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Number of ill climbs in possible bacterial outbreak in northeast Oklahoma

By John David Sutter Modified: August 26, 2008 at 5:53 pm •  Published: August 26, 2008

The state Health Department today added to the toll of an intestinal illness outbreak in northeast Oklahoma. A hospital official says some of the victims are children.

Records show that state Health Department inspectors conducted an emergency inspection Saturday at the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove - where the food-borne illnesses are believed to have started - and found nine health violations. It was previously reported that the inspection found no health violations.

To date, one person has died, 17 have been hospitalized and 40 are thought to be ill in connection with food-borne illnesses from an unknown source, according to a news release from the Health Department.

At least six of those hospitalized are children. Three children ages 18 months to 12 years are undergoing dialysis at Children's Hospital at St. Francis in Tulsa, according to Dr. William Banner, co-director of the hospital's pediatric intensive care unit. Two other children were transferred to Oklahoma City for similar treatment, and one 15-year-old may soon need dialysis in Tulsa, Banner said.

Dialysis is a treatment used on patients whose kidneys are no longer functioning. Most of the victims have become sick with severe, bloody diarrhea.

State Health Department officials have said the majority of the victims ate recently at the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove, which is about 50 miles east of Tulsa. The man who died — Chad Ingle, a 26-year-old newlywed gospel singer from Pryor — ate at the restaurant on Aug. 17, was hospitalized Thursday and died Sunday.

Larry Weatherford, a spokesman for the state Health Department, said Tuesday that state officials became aware of a "suspicious cluster" of illnesses on Friday, but decided not to alert the public until Monday because "there wasn't information pointing any one direction at that point."

Guest book: Chad Ingle

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