LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – What may be an E. coli outbreak in northeastern Oklahoma claimed the life of a former Ardmore man.
Chad Ingle, 26, was born in Ardmore, but was most recently living in Pryor, Oklahoma, when he became ill after eating at a restaurant in Locust Grove near Tulsa.
The State Health Department says at least 14 people have been hospitalized and 20 or more cases are being investigated.
Chad ingle was an up-and-coming Christian music artist, who was born in Ardmore with strong family ties to the Ardmore community.
Ingle died Sunday in Tulsa at just 26 years old. Doctors say it was E. coli that killed him. While they do not yet know what caused the infection, a restaurant near Tulsa is now under scrutiny. Officials say dozens of people who ate at the Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove became ill.
Health professionals say it is normal to have a certain amount of the E. coli bacteria inside our digestive system, but once the levels become too high, it can be very dangerous.
"The most common thing and the most concerning problem is dehydration associated with that and that leads to further problems. So, we want to treat the dehydration because it causes a loss of fluid from the body, in the form of bloody diarrhea," Mercy Memorial Hospital E.R. physician’s assistant Robert Lynch says.
So how can something so unpleasant end up getting served to people at a restaurant? The State Health Department says the most obvious answer is poor hygiene practices.
"It’s what we call fecal-oral transmission, which means that someone has prepared food or handled food that possibly didn't wash their hands after they went to the bathroom, and then they prepared food and transmitted it that way," Carolyn Jones at the Carter County Health Department says.
Doctors say constantly washing your hands is the best way to protect your family against the bacteria.
An inspection of Country Cottage restaurant in Locust Grove found no problems.