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Pa. health officials investigating four E. coli cases

Dec 5, 2006 | AP The state Health Department is investigating an E. coli outbreak that sickened four people in suburban Philadelphia to determine whether it is linked to an outbreak in New York and New Jersey, a department spokesman said Tuesday.

Two of the four people who fell ill in Montgomery County at the end of November were hospitalized, but both have since been released, health department spokesman Troy Thompson said.

The department has not identified the source of the E. coli contamination, but three of the four people confirmed that they ate at a Montgomery County Taco Bell restaurant, Thompson said.

The company had no immediate comment on the Pennsylvania cases Tuesday.

E. coli, or Escherichia coli, is a common and ordinarily harmless bacteria, but certain strains can cause abdominal cramps, fever, bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, blindness, paralysis, even death.

Eleven Taco Bells that used the same food distributor have been implicated in the New York and New Jersey outbreak, which sickened at least three dozen people.

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