TULSA, Okla. (AP) - State health officials say at least 17 people have been hospitalized and 40 or more cases are being investigated after a severe illness outbreak in northeast Oklahoma.
At least one person -- 26-year-old Pryor bank employee and former Ardmore resident Chad Ingle -- has died as a result of the illness.
Oklahoma State Department of Health officials are trying to identify it's source and whether it's related to E. coli bacteria.
They have confirmed that many ate at the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove but say it's too early to pinpoint the eatery as the source.
Health officials say the restaurant passed a surprise inspection over the weekend, but online health department records show inspectors discovered nine violations, including two that directly relate to causes of food-borne illnesses.
Health Department spokesman Larry Weatherford says it's common for a restaurant to have numerous violations during an inspection and urged patience from an anxious public.
The eatery is usually closed on Mondays and voluntarily closed today.
Those who were sickened include residents from Bixby, Broken Arrow, Locust Grove, McAlester, Peggs, Pryor, Sand Springs and Tulsa.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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