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For Release:
December 13, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Gretchen Michael
Donna Leusner

DHSS Updates E. Coli Investigation


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is investigating 84 cases of illness potentially related to the multi-state outbreak of E. coli 0157 infection associated with Taco Bell restaurants.


Included in the total are 33 cases that meet the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) case definition as being associated with the outbreak.  This includes 23 confirmed cases in Middlesex (19), Somerset (2), Essex (1) and Union (1) counties.  All 23 have strains of E. coli 0157 that match those of other confirmed cases in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Carolina.


The other 10 -- all probable cases according to the CDC definition – are from Middlesex (3), Union (2), Essex (1), Camden (2), Hunterdon (1) and Somerset (1) counties.


New Jersey’s 33 outbreak-associated cases are linked to Taco Bell restaurants in Camden, Middlesex, Union, Passaic, and Somerset Counties.  The 33 people ranged in age from 4 to 54, and became ill between November 22 and Dec. 5. The average age is 19.


Forty-three cases are considered suspect under the CDC definition and an additional 8 investigations are in the preliminary stages.


"The food source of the outbreak has not been determined. However, federal investigators have found raw ingredients consumed at Taco Bell restaurants to be of particular concern,’’ said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.


Federal, state and local health officials continue to investigate this outbreak and continue to evaluate possible sources of the E. coli contamination.


"The Department's Food and Drug Safety Program continues to work closely with the federal Food and Drug Administration regarding investigations to assess public health risk associated with food supply and distribution.  Additionally, the Department's Communicable Disease Service continues to work with local health departments and the CDC on investigating suspect illnesses in addition to providing support for analyses to determine specific food-associated risks," Dr. Jacobs said.


People who develop symptoms of possible E. coli infection should contact their health care provider immediately. Symptoms could include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps or vomiting, but usually not fever.


The Department will provide daily updates of case counts and test results at

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