Investigation Continues In Aetna's E. Coli Cases

Source of Article:,0,7729965.story


| The Hartford Courant

9:56 AM EDT, March 25, 2009

Aetna employees are answering a survey of their recent eating habits as city and state health officials try to determine what caused five people who work at the company's Hartford office to be stricken with E. coli in the past three to four weeks.

Four employees have been hospitalized with E. Coli, and all have been released. Officials initially said one person was hospitalized.

Company spokesman Fred Laberge said state Department of Public Health officials requested that employees take the online survey, which was e-mailed to them late Tuesday.

About 40 people who work at the Aetna cafeteria are being interviewed this week, part of the detective work officials hope will lead to the source of the contamination, said Martha Page, Hartford's environmental health director. Compass Group operated the cafeteria, Laberge said.

The office has a cafeteria and a kiosk that serves prepared food, but health officials have not determined that the contamination occurred there. "We don't have an answer to that question yet, but that is not unusual at this point," Page said.

The salad bar was closed Tuesday "as a precaution," Laberge said, but he cafeteria remained open.

Despite several violations, the cafeteria passed its most recent inspection, which was done March 12, according to city records. The kiosk was inspected Feb. 26 and had enough violations that a reinspection was required, which it passed March 12.

The most recent E. coli case occurred about a week ago, when an employee went to the company's wellness center complaining of feeling ill. He was taken to an emergency room and admitted to a hospital, but has since been released, Laberge said.

State officials notified Aetna on Monday of the E. coli cases, and the company sent an e-mail to employees at noon, followed by another later in the day, Laberge said.

The e-mails included information about E. coli, including recommended treatments and how to avoid it.

"We're working closely with the city as well as the state Department of Health," he said.




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