11 Confirmed E. coli Cases Traced to Toccoa Restaurant

The number of cases in a Stephens County E. coli outbreak is now up to 11 and state health officials believe the likely source is a Toccoa restaurant.

In an e-mail statement released Monday night, District Two Public Health Spokesman Dave Palmer said 10 Georgia residents and one South Carolina resident have been confirmed as having a strain of E. coli.

In addition, Palmer said the common denominator among the victims is 10 of the 11 patients reported eating at the BBQ Shack on SR17 in Toccoa during the weekend of May 2 through 4.

Of the 11 confirmed cases, Palmer said seven people had to be hospitalized, and five of those patients had complications. Five were diagnosed with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, or HUS.  

According to the National Institute of Health Web site,  HUS is a disease that destroys red blood cells and causes kidney injury and can lead to kidney failure.

According to Palmer, investigators have not yet confirmed whether the BBQ Shack is the source of the E. coli infection. 

He said the owners of the BBQ Shack are working closely with state and local public health officials in the ongoing  investigation.   The BBQ Shack serves pork ribs and Southern style BBQ they make on site using large grills and smokers.

Palmer said that evidence to date indicates that people were at risk for exposure only during that first weekend in May. He said no more cases were reported after that weekend in Stephens County.

E. coli is a bacteria and infection from the bacteria can cause serious illness, that can lead to hospitalization, if severe.   Health officials said symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bloody diarrhea and can occur  three to four days after exposure to the bacteria.

Anyone who experiences the symptoms for E. coli infection should see their the health care provider immediately.