Health Officials pinpoint Moultrie E-Coli source - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Health Officials pinpoint Moultrie E-Coli source

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

July 3, 2008

MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) - Friday afternoon investigators asked The Barbeque Pit Steak and Seafood restaurant to close its doors, pending an investigation.

The restaurant complied. 

Another case of E-coli is confirmed making the total five, but health officials have also confirmed three other cases of a severe illness that's associated with E-coli.

Health officials still don't know what is making Moultrie residents sick, but believe they've found the common link, The Barbeque Pit Steak and Seafood Restaurant on First Avenue SouthEast.

"That's been our number one concern in public health to protect the health of the community so when we see individuals still getting sick we continue to be greatly concerned," said the Deputy Director Public Health, Brenda Greene. 

They've narrowed it down to the restaurant, asking them to close shop while investigators now work with the restaurant to find the source. They'll be looking closely at the menu and talking with both those who got sick and those who didn't, giving them a well companion questionnaire to try and determine an exact cause.

"We'll compare what they ate with what the individual that got sick ate so that we can possibly rule out some food items and then if we can narrow it down to one or a few food items then that will help us continue our investigation," said Greene.

At Colquitt Regional Hospital they're still seeing patients with symptoms. Melissa McDonald's parents were both admitted Monday and Tuesday with E-coli like symptoms, they've both been tested and are awaiting results.

 "They're actually very sick. Daddy is so sick he can't stay awake. Momma, she's actually getting over hers so hopefully she'll be able to come home tomorrow," said McDonald.

Hospital representatives say it's been difficult to sort out the cases, and hope the new information will make it easier since the outbreak started around June 19th.

"Colitis started showing up on our C-T scans and this started raising awareness then when the first confirmed case came the awareness was really there," said Colquitt Medical Center P. R. Director Gary Boley. 

Health officials say plenty of people have eaten at the Barbeque Pit and haven't gotten sick, but caution those who have eaten there recently. They say if you start to feel sick, have stomach cramps, or bloody diarrhea, you should see your physician.

The Southwest Georgia Public Health District says if you ate at the restaurant and didn't get sick then there's likely nothing to worry about. Those who have not been sickened do not need to be tested for E-Coli.

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