OKLAHOMA CITY - An E. coli outbreak linked to a restaurant in northeastern Oklahoma has sickened more than 200 people and killed at least one person, state health officials said Tuesday.
The Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove has been closed for more than a week, but an exact source of the contamination has not been pinpointed, said state epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley.
It is the largest outbreak of a particular strain of E. coli in the United States, Bradley said.
"The complexity of this outbreak and the necessity to be extremely thorough in our investigation means we still have more questions than answers," she said.
The state is testing food preparation and serving surfaces at the restaurant and interviewing those who became ill, Bradley said.
Health officials first reported the outbreak Aug. 25. The state Health Department said Tuesday that 206 people have become sick, including 53 children. Those sickened range in age from 2 months to 88 years.
The outbreak has been blamed for the death of 26-year-old Chad Ingle of Pryor, who died Aug. 24, a week after eating at the restaurant.
A spokeswoman for the family that runs the restaurant has described the owners as distraught.
A message on the restaurant's answering machine says, "We have decided to voluntarily remain closed today so we can continue working closely with the state Health Department."
Symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. Most of those who die have weak immune systems, such as the elderly or very young.
Locust Grove is a community of 1,500 about 50 miles east of Tulsa.