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Abbott expects to start shipping EleCare infant formula in the coming weeks

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(This July 15 story corrects headline and first paragraph to "in the coming weeks" from "next week")

(Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories said on Friday it expects to begin releasing EleCare formula in the coming weeks from its recently reopened Sturgis plant, which has been at the center of a baby formula shortage in the United States.

The company had shut down the plant in February and recalled its infant formula, including Similac and EleCare, after reports of bacterial infections in babies who had consumed products made at the facility.

Abbott briefly reopened this plant early last month, but had to shut it down after about two weeks due to thunderstorms and heavy rains.

The company is initially manufacturing EleCare and is working to restart the production of Similac.

EleCare formula is meant for children and babies who cannot tolerate intact protein or may have protein allergies.

Abbott said it is also extending the rebates offered on its products until Sept. 30, in states where the company holds the contract when Similac is unavailable.

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Mark Potter)