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Oregon Restaurant Ruled Out as the Source of Recent E. Coli Infections

The Lincoln County Public Health Division in Newport, OR, announced Wednesday that the restaurant in Otis, OR, where Serena Profitt, 4, and her friend, Brad Sutton, 5, shared a turkey sandwich over Labor Day weekend was not the source of E. coli infection that later killed the girl, hospitalized her friend, and may have sickened a third child.

Samples from the Roadhouse 18 Bar & Grill sent to the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory for analysis tested negative for E. coli bacteria, division officials said.

Aubrie Utter, 3, of Lebanon, OR, spent eight days in the hospital battling an E. coli infection but has reportedly recovered.

“All of the test results have come back negative and our comprehensive investigation of the establishment did not reveal a link to the reported case,” said Amy Chapman, Lincoln County Environmental Health Program Manager.

There have been no new reported cases of E. coli infection in Lincoln County since the outbreak investigation began, said Rebecca Austen, division director, adding that the investigation is continuing.

County health officials said that while the public is at “extremely low risk” of E. coli infection, people are advised to take routine preventive measures against the bacteria such as frequent hand washing, thoroughly disinfecting household surfaces (bathrooms, kitchens and play areas), avoiding cross-contamination during food preparation, washing fruits and vegetables before consuming them, and thoroughly cooking raw meat.

The two children shared more than a turkey sandwich that weekend. They also attended a birthday party at a park in Lebanon, OR, played in a pond near the South Santiam River, were around a pet goat and other animals, and ate watermelon and cupcakes purchased at the Walmart store in Lebanon.

Recent news accounts reported that the goat droppings did test positive for E. coli, but it wasn’t clear whether it was the same type as the O157:H7 strain that sickened the children.

(Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney and publisher of Food Safety News, has been retained to represent the Profitt family.)

A third child, 3-year-old Aubrie Utter of Lebanon, attended a different party at the same park that weekend, later became sick, and, after testing positive for E. coli, spent eight days at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. She has reportedly recovered.

Meanwhile, Brad Sutton was transferred from a Tacoma, WA, hospital to one in Seattle, where his condition has been upgraded from critical to satisfactory. He has been on dialysis for hemolytic uremic syndrome, a kidney disease associated with E. coli infections.

Another child, 3-year-old Brooklyn Hoksbergen of Lynden, WA, died Sept. 5 in Seattle from an E. coli infection believed to be unrelated to the other three cases. Health officials in Bellingham, WA, said this past week that, while tests show her case was not connected to the others, they are unable to ascertain the source of her infection and are concluding their investigation.

© Food Safety News