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Archive for Saturday, December 9, 2006

Number of E. coli cases climbs to 62 nationwide

December 9, 2006

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— Federal health officials warned Friday that the number of infections from an outbreak of E. coli continued to climb, with more than 60 people falling ill after eating at Taco Bell restaurants, most in the Northeast.

The company ordered the removal of green onions from its 5,800 restaurants nationwide earlier this week after testing by an independent lab suggested the bacteria may have come from tainted scallions.

"Illnesses are still occurring, and we consider the outbreak to be ongoing," said Dr. Christopher Braden, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said it expected the number of cases to grow. As of Friday afternoon, the agency had counted 62 confirmed cases in six states, most of them in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

South Carolina and Utah reported one case each. South Carolina health officials said Friday that their case involved a girl who had stopped at a Taco Bell in Pennsylvania last month while traveling. It was not immediately known if the Utah victim had recently been in the Northeast.

Forty-nine of those who got sick were hospitalized, and seven developed a type of kidney failure, the CDC said.

Laboratories continued testing food samples to find the source of the bacteria.

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