DHEC backpedals on restaurant link to E. coli cases - FOX Carolina 21

DHEC backpedals on restaurant link to E. coli cases

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SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -

State health officials Wednesday said there is no specific link to recent cases of E.coli and a Spartanburg-area restaurant.

On Monday, the Department of Health and Environmental Control said the outbreak was related to dining at a Spartanburg-area Mexican restaurant during the last week of April and early May. Officials would not identify the restaurant, saying there was no immediate effect to the health of citizens.

Health officials said then that they were in the process of interviewing more than eight cases, two of which reported the infection had progressed to a severe condition associated with Escherichia coli infection that can lead to kidney failure.

However, on Wednesday, the department issued a statement not only saying there was no conclusive link between the restaurant and the illness, but also identifying the restaurant.

"While it is our policy not to release information during a pending investigation unless it affects the health of the citizens of South Carolina, the El Mexicano on East Main Street in Spartanburg has voluntarily agreed to release its name to the public," said DHEC Director Catherine Templeton.

Officials said in the latest statement that the restaurant scored an "A" during its latest health inspection on May 11. They said it also scored an "A" during its February inspection.

El Mexicano owner Martin Mata said he is relieved that DHEC found that his restaurant is no risk to the health of his customers. He said this is the first problem of this type his restaurant has had in more than 15 years in business.

"In the interest of all Mexican restaurants in Spartanburg, we felt it was important to come forward and share what DHEC has determined so far in its investigation and our willingness to assist the agency any way that we can," Mata said.

Officials said they are still investigating the E. coli cases to determine if there is a link between the illness and a food product.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include gastroenteritis with diarrhea and abdominal cramps with the potential for fever and bloody stools, along with hemolytic uremic syndrome in children or thrombocytopenia purpura in adults, according to health officials.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should talk to their doctor, officials said.

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