News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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E. coli outbreak in Emmet County

Public health officials are investigating the cause of an outbreak of E.coli in Emmet County. It is not known at this time if it is related to any of the recent E.coli infections confirmed in many states including Michigan. Four individuals have been diagnosed with a severe type of E. coli infection in the last week. All developed bloody diarrhea and dehydration and were hospitalized at Northern Michigan Regional Hospital for treatment.

Further testing of stool samples is underway to determine if the local cases are from the same strain that has caused at least 30 cases of E.coli in downstate Michigan, which has been linked to institutionally purchased iceberg lettuce. In addition to contaminated food (especially raw fruits and vegetables), E.coli can also be spread from poor hygiene, eating undercooked ground beef, drinking impure water, drinking unpasteurized milk, and working with cattle.

“Right now, we don’t know if the outbreak is from person-to-person contact, a foodborne illness, or another source,” said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

Meyerson said Health Department staff are working to identify the source of E.coli in order to reduce the number of new cases. “We start our investigation by interviewing sick individuals. We ask them to try to remember every single thing they’ve eaten in the past several days. Common foods can sometimes point us to the problem.”

One to eight days after you are infected, E.coli can cause severe abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. “Symptoms can also include fever, nausea, or vomiting. If you have these symptoms -- especially bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps – call your health care provider right away,” said Meyerson.

Good food safety practices can prevent E. coli and other foodborne illnesses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) & Prevention recommends--