Type of E. coli Identified; Well Water at Country Cottage May be an Issue

Well water at a restaurant linked to a deadly E. coli outbreak has tested positive for bacteria.

One man has died and about 50 people have been hospitalized with the illness linked to the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove.

State Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Skylar McElhaney says DEQ did not specifically test for the strain of E. coli but for a group of bacteria to give officials an idea of whether unhealthy contamination is likely.

She says the well is on the restaurant's property and there is no evidence that citizens’ drinking water is contaminated. The state Health Department will reanalyze the samples to see whether the toxin-producing bacteria is present.

The cause of the contamination is unknown. Sewer leaks, runoff from agricultural waste and improper well maintenance and disinfection are common causes of bacterial contamination.

Meanwhile, the type of E. coli strain that caused the illnesses was identified as E. coli 0111, a rare type of the infection, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said Friday.

"This is a rare type of E. coli that is not normally found in an outbreak this large," said state epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley.

Health officials sent

samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for analyzation. The CDC just notified OSDH of their find.

More than 116 people have been sickened from the E. coli, including 87 adults and 29 children.