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Health officials probe outbreak of E. coli in Hunterdon

The Hunterdon County Democrat reported today on the New Jersey-County and state departments of health, Hunterdon Medical Center and the federal Food and Drug Administration investigating an outbreak of 10 cases of E.coli in late October and early November.
Health Department Director John Beckley said the primary focus of the investigation is Chili’s restaurant in Raritan Township and one of its food suppliers that deals with sources from out of state. He said information is being gathered.
“We’re understanding more, but don’t have things pinned down,” Beckley said. “The positive cases are not all the same strain. We’ve been doing continuing surveillance since November and there have been no new cases” since his department became involved.
Meileen Acosta, the county’s epidemiologist, said the Health Department learned about the outbreak when a physician called to report the first case. The department is still getting lab results, trying “to isolate and identify the absolute source” of where the infection started.
“The objective is to learn as much as we can about the source or sources of the infections so we can prevent any future cases,” Beckley said. He would not identify what specific products were being analyzed, but said he does not believe there is any ongoing risk, “We have no reason to think that the restaurant poses any risk. I ate there myself last weekend,” he said.

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