Sep 17, 2008 (CIDRAP News) An outbreak of Escherichia coli O111 infections in Oklahoma seems to have run its course after sickening 314 people, putting 72 in hospitals, and killing one, Oklahoma officials announced yesterday.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) said that the last known case-patient fell ill Sep 6 and that it believed the outbreak was over.
All the cases have been linked to the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, Okla., the OSDH said. According to previous reports, most cases occurred in people who ate at the restaurant between Aug 15 and 17.
E coli O111 is a fairly unusual strain, far less common than O157:H7, the type identified in most E coli outbreaks, but it causes a similar illness. Oklahoma officials believe the cases there represent the largest O111 outbreak reported in the United States to date.
Of the 314 people who were sick, 246 were adults and 65 were children, while the ages of three were not yet known, the OSDH said. Seventeen people received kidney dialysis treatment for hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal condition.
Investigators have interviewed 1,843 people in connection with the outbreak, the OSDH said, but have not yet identified a specific food vehicle in the outbreak.
"Health investigators are reviewing results of interviews with persons who ate at the Country Cottage to determine the possible association of illness to specific food items. This analysis could take several weeks," the OSDH said.
Last week a state official said investigators were considering the possibility that the restaurant had an infected employee who handled many different foods, since the investigation hadn't pointed to any specific foods.