Orange County's public health officer Friday ordered another shutdown of the Children's Dental Group of Anaheim, where dozens of youngsters were affected by a bacterial outbreak.
Doctor Eric Handler issued the order after tests showed bacteria is still in the office's water system, even though it was recently replaced.
"We have shut them down through a health officer order so we can do a thorough assessment as to why this has occurred," Handler said.
On Sept. 15, Handler ordered the dental office to stop doing pulpotomy procedures and replace its internal water processing system. When that job was completed, the ban was lifted Nov. 7.
Test results on Thursday, however, showed there was mycobacterium in the office's internal water system, Handler said.
As of Tuesday, county health officials said they had logged 58 cases involving the clinic, with 20 confirmed to be infected and the rest probably infected. All 58 have been hospitalized at some point.
They range in age from 2 to 10 and underwent pulpotomy procedures from March through Aug. 11.
Since the ban was lifted Nov. 7, the clinic had been "in operation and doing pulpotomies," Handler said, with no new reports of infections.
Handler said his office will be monitoring children treated at the office since Nov. 7 to ensure their health.
"It's important to understand that we're taking every measure that mycobacterium is eliminated from the internal water system," Handler said.
He said it's unknown why the water continues to show signs of the bacteria, "which is why we're working closely with the Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention) to help determine" the cause.
The dental office cannot reopen until it meets a number of requirements ensuring the bacteria has been cleansed from the system.
Attorney Daniel Callahan, who sued the dental clinic this week on behalf of a 6-year-old boy who lost much of his lower jaw to an infection, said he was "not surprised about the county's action, especially given their findings.
But that is not going to relieve the Children's Dental Group of liability either for the dentists involved nor their insurance companies.
"In fact, we're presently doing an investigation if there are other defendants to add to this lawsuit," he said.