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E. coli alert wanes

Posted: Sunday, July 30, 2000

The Kenai Peninsula's E. coli outbreak sent another person to the hospital last week, but officials believe the worst is over.

The number of cases testing positive for the bacterial infection at Central Peninsula General Hospital is 11, said hospital spokesperson, Bonnie Nichols.

The latest patient was released Thursday, and the situation seemed to be looking up.

"As of this morning, it looked like things were slowing down," Nichols said Thursday.

Though there are no new cases to test, Nichols said infection still could occur.

The cases are linked to the Mad Moose Cafe in Sterling, Nichols said.

All CPGH cases had eaten at the cafe that is currently closed, said Brad Tufto with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Tufto said he met with Leana Moore, the owner of the cafe, Thursday. The cafe will stay closed until all samples are done, he said.

There are no estimates on when that will be, he said. The first samples are just starting to come from the lab in Anchorage and some may need to be sent Outside for testing.

Though the cafe is closed, precautions are being taken for the future.

"The operator continues to be concerned and is working well with the department," Tufto said.

According to a state of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services interim report issued Friday afternoon, the official state count of verified E. coli cases has reached nine, all of which ate at the Mad Moose Cafe from July 7 through July 19.

Another 12 reported cases are still under investigation. Of the 12, two have been identified with E. coli in a household where a family member was previously diagnosed with the bacterial infection.

Secondary spread of the illness can occur directly from person to person in families, child-care centers and custodial institutions.

The report states that although no new cases are expected related to eating at the Mad Moose, secondary cases may occur. The Division of Public Health will continue to monitor persons who are in close contact with cases.

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