Increased cases of E. coli prompts investigation

E Coli bacteria
E Coli bacteria(MGN)
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 8:13 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WNEM)– A recent increase in illnesses related to E. coli bacteria has prompted the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the Kent, Ottawa and Oakland county health departments to investigate.

There were 98 cases of E. coli infection reported to MDHSS in August, in comparison to 20 cases around Aug. 2021. The current investigation is still in the early stages, but laboratory results have linked some of these cases to each other, MDHHS said.

“While reports of E. coli illness typically increase during the warmer summer months, this significant jump in cases is alarming,” MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian said. “This is a reminder to make sure to follow best practices when it comes to hand hygiene and food handling to prevent these kinds of foodborne illness. If you are experiencing symptoms of E. coli infection like cramping and diarrhea (or gastrointestinal distress), especially if they are severe, make sure to let your health care provider know.”

Symptoms vary for each person, but often include:

·         Severe stomach cramps

·         Diarrhea – often bloody

·         Vomiting

·         Fever

People experiencing symptoms of E. coli infection should consult a health care provider as soon as possible. Health care providers should contact their local health department to report suspect or confirmed cases, MDHHS says.

Symptoms of E. coli infection usually appear three to four days after the exposure but may appear in as little as one day or up to 10 days. Symptoms often improve within five to seven days. Some infections are very mild, but others can be severe or even life-threatening. Younger children and older adults may be more likely to experience severe illness.

MDHHS provides a few ways to prevent E. coli infections which are often directly connected to proper hand hygiene and food handling practices, such as:

Washing hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol:

  • Before and after handling food
  • After using the bathroom or changing a diaper
  • After contact with animals or their environments, such as farms, petting zoos, fairs or even the backyard