Third case of E. coli suspected in DelawareDec 9, 2006 | AP
State health officials on Friday confirmed a second case of E. coli infection involving patrons of Taco Bell restaurants and are investigating two other suspected cases.
Public health officials said E. coli infection had been confirmed in a 21-year-old man who ate at a Taco Bell on Concord Pike in Wilmington on Nov. 20. Authorities believe a 14-year-old boy who ate at the same restaurant on Dec. 2 also may be stricken with E. coli.
A second suspected case involves a 59-year-old woman who ate at a Taco Bell in Newark on Nov. 27, but laboratory tests ruled out E. coli as causing the illness of a 22-year-old woman who ate at a Taco Bell on Kirkwood Highway in Wilmington on Dec. 3.
On Thursday, officials said a 15-year-old Elsmere girl was hospitalized for five days with an E. coli infection after eating at a Taco Bell restaurant in New Jersey on Nov. 18.
On Thursday, all 15 Taco Bell restaurants in Delaware closed at the request of state officials and agreed to conduct sanitation and food safety reviews consistent with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control.
Authorities said 13 of the restaurants, including three found to be in violation of health regulations during inspections Tuesday, were re-inspected Friday and allowed to immediately reopen.
The restaurants in Newark and on Concord Pike remained closed pending completion of efforts to clean and sanitize the facilities, discard food items on the premises, collect and analyze stool samples from employees for the presence of E. coli, and provide enhanced food safety and hygiene training to employees.
Health officials began testing food samples from the restaurants, including lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, cheese and salsa, on Thursday.
Taco Bell removed green onions from all 5,800 of its restaurants Wednesday after preliminary tests linked them to the E. coli bacteria. Federal investigators also are scrutinizing other non-meat Taco Bell ingredients, including cheese, lettuce, yellow onions and tomatoes.
At least 59 confirmed cases of E. coli sickness have been reported in six states, with the majority linked to Taco Bell, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.
Certain strains of E. coli, a common bacteria found in the feces of humans and livestock, can cause abdominal cramps, fever, bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, blindness, paralysis and death. Earlier this year, three people died and more than 200 were sickened in an E. coli outbreak traced to packaged, fresh spinach grown in California.