ESCHERICHIA COLI O157, RESTAURANT - USA (NORTH CAROLINA): CAPRINE ORIGIN SUSPECTED
Date: Tue 19 Jun 2007
Source: Charlotte (NC) Observer [edited] <http://www.charlotte.com/local/story/165275.html>
Health officials closed a China Grove, NC, restaurant linked to a deadly _Escherichia coli_ outbreak on Mon 18 Jun 2007 after learning some employees slaughtered a goat there in May 2007.
At a news conference, Rowan County Health Director Leonard Wood said that on Fri 15 Jun 2007 a former employee of Captain's Galley Seafood Restaurant in China Grove told health officials a goat had been slaughtered in the kitchen. Wood said the restaurant's owners confirmed the goat slaughter over the weekend. News of the slaughter was "very disturbing" to him and the restaurant's owners, Wood said. "They don't know if or when the restaurant will reopen," he said.
On Thu 14 Jun 2007 an 86-year-old Salisbury resident died at Rowan Regional Medical Center of complications related to an infection of a dangerous strain of the bacterium _E. coli_ [O157:H7]. She was one of 21 people who got sick after eating at the restaurant, Wood said.
Health officials said they interviewed 26 employees and heard conflicting stories. The goat was slaughtered sometime between 11 and 20 May 2007, Wood said. Restaurant patrons got sick between 26 May and 3 Jun 2007, Wood said.
Health officials cannot prove the outbreak of the intestinal disease was caused by the goat slaughter, Wood said. It will be hard to establish a link without finding part of the goat carcass. "I'm not sure we'll ever be able to confirm the goat (as the source of the illness), or anything, for that matter," he said.
Greensboro lawyer David Brown, who represents the restaurant owner, said he believes 2 or 3 employees were involved. One had been with the restaurant for a while and was a person "in whom we had confidence," Brown said. The other 2 employees were recent hires, he said.
Brown said he was told the goat wasn't killed "for some religious or cultural reason, but simply a desire to cook the goat and eat it." Brown also said the employees bought the goat from a local farmer and brought it into the restaurant after hours, Brown said. The employees killed the goat in the kitchen, but took it elsewhere to cook, Brown said. The attorney said the employees didn't use the restaurant's utensils.
Health officials announced the _E. coli_ outbreak on 7 Jun 2007. Officials said they learned of another suspected case of _E. coli_ on 18 June 2007, bringing the total to 8 confirmed cases and 13 suspected cases.
[Byline: Sharif Durhams and Adam Bell]
-- Contributed by: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
[The association of _E. coli_ O157 and restaurants is not new and, in fact, undercooked ground beef from a fast food chain caused the initial outbreak of the disease in 1982 (1). Since then, outbreaks have occurred related to ground beef and a variety of other vehicles including unpasteurized cow's milk, contaminated water (for swimming or drinking), petting zoos and contaminated uncooked vegetables.
Other domesticated animals have also been associated with the organism besides bovines, including goats (caprines). Outbreaks have been associated with unpasteurized goat milk (2) and ProMED has previously reported cases associated with goat cheese (20060512.1356). Not surprisingly, goats in petting zoos have been found to carry the organism in the gastrointestinal tracts (3,4).
Although meat from the slaughtered goat was not available for testing (hence, no "smoking caprine"), this outbreak is unique for this possible epidemiologic link.]
(This is ganked from the Pro-Med mailing list, available at <http://www.promedmail.org>)