Oklahoma 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 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.

Questions that need answers:

1.  Do the Pulsed field gel electrophoresis patterns (PFGE patterns), or genetic fingerprints, of the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in the victims stools match? If they match it means that there is likely a “point-source” outbreak – meaning, that it is a particular restaurant and/or food item that made these folks ill.

2.  Does the PFGE pattern match any patterns on PulseNet at the CDC?

3.  Does the PFGE pattern match any patterns on recalled food products?

4.  What are the common places where all of these people were? Restaurants, swimming pools, day cares, county fairs?

5.  Was there a common food item that these people shared?

6.  What are the common places where all of these people were during the week leading up to their illness?
7.  Is active surveillance (notifying hospitals, laboratories, and clinics to watch for and report suspect cases) being conducted to determine if there are more illnesses in these towns and elsewhere?
8.  Have any of the restaurant employees been ill with the same symptoms?

9.  Where is the cow poop?