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For Release:
December 11, 2006

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

For Further Information Contact:
Tom Slater
(609) 984-7160
Donna Leusner
(609) 984-7160
Marilyn Riley
609) 984-7160

DHSS Updates E. coli Investigation


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is investigating 73 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 28 cases that meet the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) case definition as being associated with the outbreak.  This includes 14 confirmed cases in Middlesex (12), Essex (1) and Union (1) counties.  All 14 have strains of E. coli 0157 that match those of other confirmed cases in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Carolina.


The other 14 -- all probable cases according to the CDC definition – are from Middlesex (9), Essex (1), Somerset (2), Camden (1) and Hunterdon (1) counties.


New Jersey’s 28 outbreak-associated cases are linked to Taco Bell restaurants in Camden, Middlesex, Union, Passaic, and Somerset Counties.  The 28 people ranged in age from 4 to 37, and became ill between November 22 and 30.


“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,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.


In addition to participating in the epidemiologic investigation, the department’s Public Health and Environmental Laboratory has conducted laboratory testing on food samples from Taco Bell restaurants, their distributor McLane Foodservice Inc., in Burlington, and the distributor’s supplier, Ready Pac Produce in Florence.


Fifteen samples of green onions taken from McLane on December 6 have tested negative.  The batches of green onions sampled were processed by McLane’s supplier, Ready Pac, November 26 or later, well after the outbreak began.


Twenty food samples taken from Taco Bells in South Plainfield and Edison have also tested negative in the DHSS laboratory.


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


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