The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found plenty of E. coli bacteria in the test samples from private wells in the Locust Grove, OK area. CDC found E coli 0141, E coli 0179 and E coli 0113. All are types of bacteria that can cause illness in humans
But CDC found no E coli 0111, the rare strain that killed a man and made 313 others sick last year after they dined at the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove.
The fact that no E. coli 0111 was found in any of the 20 wells that were found to be contaminated does not mean that the rare strain was NOT present in well water last year.
Prior to the outbreak last year, the Country Cottage for a time used its private well water because low public water pressure. The Oklahoma State Health Department found the bacteria was introduced into the Country Cottage restaurant, as all those sickened or who died had eaten there and contracted the bacteria at the restaurant.
But where the E coli 0111 actually originated remains a mystery. Tests of food items and water last year also came up negative for 011
Tests of at least 70 private wells in the area of the Country Cottage were ordered after the possibility was raised by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson that the area’s ground water could be fouled by poultry litter on the surface. At least 20 wells were contaminated.
The state’s investigation into the O111 outbreak appeared to have hit a dead-end before the Attorney General pushed for the well testing. Edmondson Monday charged that state epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley had "botched" the investigation. He says Bradley in private says the Country Cottage well was the source of the 0111 outbreak.
The final Health Department report on the outbreak has yet to be written.
Edmondson was in Denver Wednesday, appearing before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and seeking to have the state’s injunction against the poultry industry in the Illinois River Watershed from disposing of poultry litter as fertilizer upheld. It was knocked down by a lower court.