Report On Locust Grove E. Coli Leaves Questions

Thursday, April 9th 2009, 3:12 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

There have been nearly 6,500 hours of work, but still no answers for what spread the deadly bacteria that sickened hundreds.   The Oklahoma Health Department released its final report on Thursday regarding the E. coli outbreak at the Country Cottage in Locust Grove.

Read the OSDH report.

One young victim is still facing a long recovery.

"It's a hard road. But we've came along way. We've come a very long way. When she came home, she could hardly walk or anything, because her muscles were so bad," said Machaela's mother, Christina Ybarra.

Her mother says Machaela is the youngest victim of last summer's E. coli outbreak.  She was just two and a half years old, when her parents rushed her to the hospital.

"When we got there she was already in renal failure," said Machaela's mother, Christina Ybarra.

Her little kidneys shut down.  Her pancreas quit.  She spent 41 days with tubes lacing her tiny body in intensive care.  All but two of those days, she was on life support.

Her mom says there were days, when they didn't think she would make it.

"She almost died twice, while she was there. But, she's here," said Machaela's mother, Christina Ybarra.

Machaela and her family ate at Locust Grove's Country Cottage, last August. 

The Oklahoma Health Department's final report confirms the restaurant was the source of the outbreak.  But, after hours of investigating, scores of testing, they still can't pinpoint what spread the bacteria.

3/30/2009 Related story: Mayes County Lawsuit Filed Over E. Coli Outbreak  

Investigators say it was likely food-borne transmission. 

Machaela's family was hoping for something more specific.

"Well, it's hard when you have a family member, especially a child, that's affected so bad and you want to know why. And, you can't find anything out," said Machaela's mother, Christina Ybarra.

Machaela is now three and taking her role as big sister very seriously.  But, she's still a very sick little girl.

"Yeah, there are plenty of doctors who mess with me," said Machaela.

"She's still having kidney problems.  She's still having problems with her bladder. She's in pull-ups. And, they just recently put her on medicine for seizures," said Machaela's mother, Christina Ybarra.

Her parents have to watch her diet.  She can't play too hard because she dehydrates easily.  She has to see a doctor about once a week, and she takes three different kinds of medicine twice a day.       

As if all that wasn't enough, doctors warn before she's a teenager her battered kidneys will give out and she'll need a transplant.

"Even though we're out of the hospital, it's still not over. And, it won't be for a very, very long time, if at all," said Machaela's mother, Christina Ybarra.

The state report says EMSA flagged the state as early as Friday, August 22nd about the spike in children being admitted to Tulsa hospitals with bloody diarrhea.  The next day half a dozen patients reported eating at the Country Cottage and the health department made a surprise visit to the restaurant.

The Country Cottage did not voluntarily close until three days later.