This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that health officials in Michigan and Ohio are examining a growing number of illnesses connected to E. coli bacteria. At least 29 instances have been reported to date, and the CDC expects that number to rise.
The CDC has not yet identified the food responsible for the “rapidly spreading outbreak.” It recommended anyone with E. coli infection symptoms to contact their local health authorities. Symptoms of the infection include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, vertigo, and dehydration.
The onset of symptoms normally occurs three or four days after a person ingests the bacteria, and the majority of infected individuals recover within seven days without treatment, according to the CDC. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services made its own statement regarding the increase in E. coli illnesses in the state and stated that it is collaborating with local health departments in Kent, Ottawa, and Oakland counties to determine the cause.
According to the announcement, about 100 instances have been reported to the state health department since the beginning of August, which is roughly five times the number of cases reported during the same time period last year. According to the health department, laboratory testing reveals that some of the current cases are related to one another. However, it was underlined that the Michigan inquiry is still “in its early stages.”
Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the top medical administrator of Michigan’s health department, said in a statement, “While reports of E. coli sickness normally increase during the warmer summer months, this considerable rise in cases is troubling.” This serves as a reminder to adhere to basic practices regarding hand cleanliness and food handling in order to prevent foodborne illness.
A representative for the Ohio Department of Health told CBS affiliate WBNS that incidents have been reported in Clermont, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Wood, Lorain, Lucas, Mahoning, and Summit counties, and that four of the nine cases needing hospitalization have occurred in Ohio.
Similar to health officials in Michigan and Ohio, the CDC urges individuals to take extra measures when handling food to limit their chances of consuming or transmitting E. coli. It is recommended to wash hands, utensils, and surfaces that may come into touch with food, to wash produce, to separate raw foods from cooked meals, and to refrigerate perishable foods. In addition, health officials recommend using a thermometer to ensure that items are cooked to a high enough temperature to destroy the bacterium.
In one of the most recent significant E. coli outbreaks, nearly 200 people in more than half of the U.S. states were ill after eating infected romaine lettuce. After giving the public the go-ahead to consume lettuce again, the Food and Drug Administration stated that cow excrement likely contributed to the contamination due to “the proximity of livestock to product fields.”