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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2012

DHEC finds no specific link identified between restaurant, disease outbreak

COLUMBIA, S.C.The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control finds no ongoing transmission of disease or current public health threat related to a Spartanburg-area Mexican restaurant, the agency announced today.

"While it is our policy not to release information during a pending investigation unless it affects the health of the citizens of South Carolina, the El Mexicano on East Main Street in Spartanburg has voluntarily agreed to release its name to the public." DHEC Director Catherine Templeton said. "We’ve found no conclusive link between the restaurant and those who have gotten sick during this outbreak."

Templeton said the management of El Mexicano #6 has cooperated fully with DHEC inspectors, who found no substantial violations during the restaurant’s most recent inspection on May 11 where the facility scored an “A” rating. The restaurant also scored an “A” rating during an unannounced routine inspection in February.

"We've willingly answered all questions, as well as reviewed our menu items practices since DHEC inspectors first approached us in the early stages of their investigation," El Mexicano #6 Owner Martin Mata said. "We're glad that DHEC has found that our restaurant presents no health threat to our valued customers. This is the first problem we've had like this in more than 15 years in the business.

“In the interest of all Mexican restaurants in Spartanburg, we felt it was important to come forward and share what DHEC has determined so far in its investigation and our willingness to assist the agency any way that we can,” Mata said. “We’ll continue to work with DHEC to get to the bottom of this situation.”

According to Templeton, DHEC’s investigation will continue in an effort to determine a possible link between these cases of human illness and a food product.

The ongoing investigation includes one lab-confirmed case of E. coli O157:H7, two cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which often follows E. coli infection in children, and seven other cases of diarrheal illness. The most recent case began experiencing symptoms on May 3.

Anyone experiencing severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting should seek care from their health care provider.

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For media inquiries:
Adam Myrick – (803) 898-3884
Email – myrickar@dhec.sc.gov
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