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Taco Bell link rejected in twins' E. coli case

The E. coli that hospitalized two Spring Hill 9-year-olds isn't related to the outbreak in the Northeast linked to Taco Bell that sickened at least three dozen people in three states, the twins' mother said Wednesday. Alexa and Michael Lapi spent five days at Spring Hill Regional Hospital in mid November after suffering painful cramps and diarrhea, said mom Kim Lapi. Health Department officials confirmed E. coli on Nov. 15. Lapi said health officials contacted her Thursday to tell her the incident is not linked to the cases in the Northeast.

Lapi suspected a meal the children ate Nov. 3 from the Taco Bell at Spring Hill Drive and Mariner Boulevard, but a health inspection found no problems at the fast-food outlet, she said. Michael suffered near kidney failure after his release from the hospital, and spent another six days at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

"It's very scary the effects it can have," said Lapi, a nurse. With Taco Bell ruled out, she doesn't know how her children became sick. "Not knowing the source, you wonder, 'Where did it come from and am I going to expose them to it again?' "

Health experts offer simple prevention tips, including hand washing, thoroughly cooking beef, and rinsing fruits and vegetables under running water. The infections are the first in Hernando County since 2005, and health officials say it appears to be an isolated case.

HERNANDO COUNTY

Gardening calendar is now available

The Hernando County Gardening Calendar for 2007 is available at the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Service, 19490 Oliver St.

The calendar includes month-by-month expert advice on Central Florida landscaping. The cost is $3, with proceeds benefiting the Hernando County Master Gardeners.

The office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call 754-4433.

SPRING HILL

Western theme ball aids Cancer Society

Tickets are available to the Cattle Barons' Ball 2007 to benefit the American Cancer Society. The event will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 26 at Silverthorn Country Club, 4550 Golf Club Lane.

The theme will be a western party featuring entertainment, competitive games, food and silent and live auctions.

Tickets are $100. A campfire table host sponsorship, which includes a table seating 10, is $1,000 and entitles the host to amenities such as preferred seating for guests, a number of complimentary beverages and ACS partnering opportunities.

For information, sponsorships and tickets, contact Vivian Bogul toll-free at 1-800-940-1969, ext. 101, or by e-mail at vivian.bogul@cancer.org; or Mel Toran at ext. 113 or mel.toran@cancer.org.

SPRING HILL

Sponsor a brick, help VFW Post 10209

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10209 invites service personnel, businesses and individuals to sponsor a brick for a memorial pond and freedom walk to be built at the post's new property.

Bricks cost $50, which includes engraving. The memorial will include the brick memorial wall, a flag walkway, fountains, railings, bushes and floodlights. The idea came from post member "Wild" Bill Taylor.

The post, at 15166 Spring Hill Drive, recently sold its current site. Plans are under way for a new 12,600-square-foot home off Anderson Snow Road.

To purchase a brick, or for information, call the post at 796-0398.

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