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December 5, 2006: E. coli Cases in NJ at 25, While NY Is Also Hit

At least 25 cases of E. coli infection have been identified in NJ with links to several Taco Bell restaurants in the central portion of the state. In addition, over a dozen cases have been reported on Long Island in NY. These cases also appear to be linked to Taco Bell restaurants. Health officials have not yet verified a connection between the NJ and NY outbreaks.

Victims in both NJ and NY remain hospitalized, although both of the NJ children diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) appear to be improving. The NJ victims range in age, but the majority are under 18 years old.

It has also been reported that two of the employees of the South Plainfield, NJ, Taco Bell restaurant have tested positive for E. coli infection in stool samples, but they have not shown symptoms, according to Middlesex County Public Health Department Director David Papi. Taco Bell has closed the South Plainfield restaurant, as well as four others in Suffolk County on Long Island.

The E. coli strain that has been detected in the NJ and NY cases, E. coli O157:H7, produces a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness. Young children and the elderly may be more susceptible to this type of infection. Symptoms may include diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps and may appear anywhere from one day to one week following exposure.

If you think that you are experiencing symptoms related to E. coli infection, you should contact your health care provider or visit your local hospital emergency room.

To learn more about E. coli HO157:H7 and food poisoning, please visit  or .

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