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Girl, 12, with E. coli remains hospitalized

Times Staff Writer

A 12-year-old girl remained in intensive care Wednesday after being infected with the E. coli bacteria at a Lake Forest restaurant, hospital and health officials said.

Earlier reports said she had been released.

After being diagnosed with the most serious complication of E. coli Wednesday afternoon, the girl was transferred from Children’s Hospital of Orange County at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo to the CHOC facility in Orange. The girl, whose name has not been released because of privacy issues, was admitted to the hospital Friday.

Two others hospitalized after dining at the Foothill Ranch Souplantation have been released. One person over age 70 was discharged Tuesday or Wednesday. An 8-year-old boy was discharged Tuesday.

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Health officials said they were still trying to determine the source of the bacteria that caused seven diners to become ill after eating at Souplantation on March 23 and 24.

Officials from the Orange County Health Care Agency said test results Wednesday showed all were infected by the same source.

The restaurant remains open because Health Care Agency investigators have not found any health violations.

Symptoms of E. coli usually appear three to four days after exposure to the bacteria. People with E. coli may have bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain or cramps or fever. Most cases resolve in five to 10 days.

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Denise Almazan, a CHOC spokeswoman, said the 12-year-old girl, a dancer, was in excellent health before she became ill.

Almazan said the girl was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which occurs in less than 10% of those infected with E. coli, usually those younger than 5 or the elderly. People with HUS may develop kidney failure and anemia, and 3% to 5% die.

Three people, including a toddler, died in an E. coli outbreak last summer.

The outbreak was traced to spinach grown near Salinas. The form of bacteria in that outbreak was similar to what was discovered at the Lake Forest restaurant.

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Souplantation officials said customers with concerns about the E. coli incident should call (800) 328-7761.

“We want to encourage that the investigation goes forward, but we have to ask for patience while science takes its course,” said Pam Ritz, a company spokesperson.

Health agency officials said they were continuing to look for the source of the contamination, talking to Souplantation employees and the seven infected people.

dave.mckibben@latimes.com

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