Black Hawk County Health Department officials continue to investigate an outbreak that’s sickened over 30 people and sent 14 people to the hospital with severe diarrhea.
Health Department Director Tom O?Rourke says early on, they suspected it’s an e-coli infection but had to wait for tests to confirm that. “Our efforts are focused around one eating establishment that was immediately and thoroughly inspected,” O’Rourke says. He says that restaurant was “effective” in helping the health department identify and locate its customers, many of whom are University of Northern Iowa students.
Campus and other sources in the area say the restaurant that was the source of the outbreak is a Taco John’s, but O’Rourke says state law prevents him from revealing the name of the establishment.
O’Rourke says after the inspection, the restaurant in question remained open.
O’Rourke says his department will keep interviewing people — by Friday they’d done 55 interviews already — and they hope to reach a conclusion over the weekend. He did say the outbreak had nothing to do with a nationally-publicized e-coli infection at some Taco Bell restaurants that had the chain removing all the onions from items on its menu.
Eight of the 14 hospitalized in the outbreak were UNI students. By Monday, O’Rourke expects to get back the lab tests that could confirm e-coli and they’re asking anyone who has had serious diarrhea recently to contact the Black Hawk County health Department.