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--
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information, visit www.cdc.gov/ecoli.