The Huntsville Times reported on the expanding outbreak linked to Little Rosie’s Taqueria.

Eight more people have tested positive for the potentially deadly foodborne illness, bringing the total to 15. Most of the victims are children or young adults. Five people remain hospitalized: two each at Huntsville Hospital and Crestwood Medical Center; and one at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.  Five-year-old Samuel Coggin of Meridianville was taken to Vanderbilt by ambulance Sunday and may have to undergo dialysis, said his grandfather, James Cole. Kidney failure is one of the most serious symptoms of E. coli infection.  Although the health department says the cause of the outbreak remains a mystery, many of the victims ate at Little Rosie’s Taqueria on Whitesburg Drive in late June.

The fact that the Health Department can not seem to find the cause, reminded me of the following quotes from the Scripps Howard writer, Tom Hargrove:

Food safety can depend on the state you live in

The rate at which state health departments are able to detect and diagnose outbreaks of food illness varies alarmingly in the United States.

Ten other states reported food-sickness outbreaks at a rate of only half the national average or even less. They are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

But 24 states failed to identify the cause in at least half of their food-sickness outbreaks. States with worse-than-average diagnosis rates are Alabama, Florida, Montana, New Jersey, Washington state, Michigan, California, Maryland, Illinois, Mississippi, Delaware and Missouri.

Alabama epidemiologists found the cause in only nine of their 180 outbreaks that sickened at least 718 people. That is a 5 percent rate of diagnoses.

“We just lurch from day to day. It’s a real struggle,” said Alabama State Epidemiologist John Lofgren. “We’ve never identified a virus at the state level. We’ve always had to send viral specimens to the CDC for testing.”