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E. coli outbreak in N.J. seems to have passed

At least three dozen sickened; 5 area Taco Bell restaurants closed

Jan 1, 2006 | MSNBC

New Jersey’s top health official is describing a recent spate of E. coli sickness as “a serious outbreak,” but says the threat seems to have passed. At least three dozen people were stricken and apparently all the victms had eaten at Taco Bell restaurants.

“There has not been an outbreak since Nov. 29, so I think that whatever happened went through already,” Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs said Monday.
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Yum Brands Inc. Tuesday said the strain of E. coli that is suspected to have sickened the victims is no longer in any of its Taco Bell restaurants and that the restaurants that were closed due to the outbreak expect to reopen.

“The E. coli strain appears to have passed through our system,” Tim Jerzyk, Yum’s vice president of investor relations, said at a meeting with Wall Street analysts on Tuesday.

Jerzyk added that there was “no immediate threat to consumers today” and said the company is continuing to work with health officials.

E. coli is a bacteria that can cause severe stomach distress and is most often spread through contaminated food.

Searching for source
State medical officials in New Jersey and New York were working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to pinpoint what caused the outbreak that sickened at least 22 people in New Jersey two of them seriously and more than a dozen on Long Island.

“We have to find the food they all had in common,” said David Papi, director of health for Middlesex County.

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