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Restaurant finally closes in E. coli outbreak

The Associated Press reported that two more cases of E. coli infection linked to a restaurant have been identified, forcing the Orange County eatery to temporarily close for business.

The new cases brought the number of people sickened by the dangerous bacterium to 12. The first 10 people who tested positive for E. coli had eaten at the Foothill Ranch restaurant in Lake Forest. Tests confirmed that an 11th person, a juvenile who had eaten at the restaurant was also infected, said Orange County Health Care Agency spokesman Howard Sutter. Tests also showed an employee who did not report any symptoms or illness also had contracted E. coli O157:H7.

Meanwhile, a 12-year-old girl hospitalized with an E. coli infection was in good condition Saturday after being transferred out of intensive care and into a general care ward at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, said Denise Almazan, hospital spokeswoman

"We still have not identified the source of these infections and we cannot draw any conclusions about the possible source from the latest developments," said county health officer Eric Handler. "Our interviews with employees have shown that they also eat meals at the restaurant and an employee could have become infected in the same manner as others who ate at the restaurant."

The findings prompted the restaurant to voluntarily close so all its employees could be tested. The new cases also led the Health Care Agency to suspend the restaurant’s health permit. The serve-yourself salad-buffet restaurant stayed open after the first several cases because health inspectors initially concluded its food and conditions were safe.

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