Public health officials from Mayes County, Oklahoma State, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigated the outbreak, and were unable to determine how the E. coli entered the restaurant or was spread. Epidemiologic and environmental investigations were conducted, but according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health final E. coli outbreak report:
E. coli O111 was not isolated by bacterial culture methods or identified by molecular methods in any of them. In the absence of finding the outbreak organism in any food handler or environmental specimen, how E. coli O111 entered the restaurant and was spread over numerous consecutive days is unclear. Apart from whatever mode the bacteria was introduced into the restaurant, the epidemiologic findings suggest that foodborne transmission of E. coli O111 through various food items—either contaminated with the bacteria by food handlers or by cross-contamination from food preparation equipment, counter surfaces, or storage areas – occurred at Country Cottage from August 15 – 24.
Marler Clark represented over a dozen clients in E. coli claims against Country Cottage. All claims were resolved.