Health department investigating E. coli outbreak
WASHTENAW COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH CONTINUES
E.COLI OUTBREAK INVESTIGATION
Possible Link to Similar Outbreak in Ohio
YPSILANTI, Mich., April 26, 2010 — In cooperation with multiple agencies, Washtenaw County Public Health continues investigating an outbreak of food-related illness. Preliminary results from the Michigan Department of Community Health indicate that this is a toxin-producing E. coli non-0157 strain. Seven of the local cases have been confirmed as E. coli non-0157 and are related to one another. Fourteen cases are awaiting laboratory confirmation of E. coli. Persons reporting illness consistent with the outbreak were likely exposed between April 7th and April 15th and became ill between April 9th and April 16th. Persons typically experience symptoms three to four days after eating foods contaminated with E. coli.
The process of identifying common food sources is complex. Initial findings indicated ill persons were exposed at one or more local eateries. Additional evidence now indicates there may have been a problem related to the distribution of certain foods received locally. The Michigan Department of Agriculture is conducting a traceback to determine whether a common food distributor or supplier may be involved. Similar cases are also under investigation in Ohio. Columbus Public Health in Columbus, OH is reporting five confirmed cases of E.coli non-0157, with several more pending confirmation.
“Our investigation is progressing,” says Dr. Diana Torres-Burgos, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Washtenaw County Public Health. “Outbreaks like these are incredibly time-consuming and difficult, and we continue to share the information we can confirm.”
Symptoms of E. coli infection include abdominal cramping followed by diarrhea that progressively worsens and is often bloody. Typically, there is no fever. Anyone with similar symptoms should seek medical attention. Individuals are also asked to report suspected E. coli illness to Washtenaw County Public Health at 734-544-6700.
Most persons sickened with E. coli recover within a week; however, some infections can be serious. The non-0157 strain of E. coli identified in the outbreak is less common, but it is still capable of producing severe illness.
Proper hand washing, food handling and cooking are critical to preventing the spread of foodborne illness. The Washtenaw County Public Health Fact Sheet on E. coli is available at: http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/public_health/phcontent/cd_fact_sheets/ecoli.pdf