Lincoln County and state health inspectors still investigating death of Serena Profitt – nothing really new to report
County and state health officials held a news conference this morning at the Lincoln County Commissioners chambers this morning and, on the whole, had very little news about the source of E coli bacteria that claimed the life of four year old Serena Profitt, who died earlier this week at Doernbecher Childrens Hospital in Portland.
Officials were unable to talk specifically about Serena’s case due to federal privacy regulations but they were able to describe how their investigation is moving forward. Officials said they’ve interviewed members of the two families whose E coli infected children played and ate together over the Labor Day weekend.
Families believe the two children shared an E coli tainted turkey sandwich at an Otis area restaurant. Family members also mentioned that the two children swam in a lake together. Health officials added that lakes are a common source of E coli bacteria.
As for the restaurant part, officials said they inspected the restaurant (wasn’t the Otis Cafe) and talked with workers there. Officials said the restaurant has a prescribed food handling protocol which involves lots of hand washing. Inspectors reviewed other aspects of the restaurants operations and didn’t find anything out of line. They took test samples but the results aren’t back yet.
There was more than a week gap between when the kids ate the sandwich and when the investigation began. And a lot can change at a restaurant in that time. Food gets cycled out, new food comes in, the place is cleaned and so on.
Officials say there have been no reports of anyone else getting sick from something they ate at the restaurant. But officials have said that the strain of E coli in this case, E coli 0157, is most commonly associated with food.
So…bottom line is…nothing really new. The investigation is continuing. But medical officials left the news conference with a point they repeated several times during the news conference – nailing down the exact source of an E coli exposure with just two cases…just two…doesn’t give them a lot to go on. In the best of all cases, investigators need a lot of sick people who did the same things together to raise the level of certainty as to where and how they came in contact with the bacteria. In short, we may never find out.