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Seven E. Coli outbreak cases confirmed

By Ben McNeely

Friday, June 8, 2007

CHINA GROVE - Seven cases of E. coli have been confirmed by area hospitals.

NorthEast Medical Center confirmed six cases and Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury had one confirmed case.

Jeannie Vance, director of infection control with NorthEast, said four of the patients were hospitalized and two were outpatient.

Vance said all of the patients have been discharged.

Michael Burton, spokesman for Rowan Regional, said the patient with E. coli is hospitalized. He also said doctors are tracking a suspected case when a patient came in presenting symptoms.

The outbreak centers around Captain's Galley Seafood Restaurant on Main Street in China Grove. Rowan and Cabarrus health officials said the common thread in all the patients is that they ate at the restaurant between May 26 and May 29.

Rowan Health Director Leonard Wood said health officials have pushed the date back to May 15.

"We want to make sure we have everybody included, but we are still focusing on the late May timeframe," Wood said.

The restaurant has been inspected and no obvious cause was found, Wood said.

John Kazakos, owner of Captain's Galley, said in a written statement that "we have great respect for the officials with the health department and will continue to cooperate in any investigation."

"We remain committed to provide our customers with quality food and service," Kazakos wrote.

The restaurant remains open.

Dr. Allan Krusell, head of the infectious disease department at NorthEast, said there is no way to determine how big the outbreak is at this point.

"So far, there are strong implications it is just from one restaurant," Krusell said. "But we don't know how many people have been exposed."

Krusell said if people experience E.coli symptoms - abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting - they should contact their physicians.

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