Nearly 100 cases of E. coli reported within 3 Michigan counties

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday that three local health departments and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are investigating the increase of E. coli cases.

According to the MDHHS, there have been 98 cases reported in August out of Kent, Ottawa and Oakland counties. The department is currently in the early stages of the investigation, but lab results are showing that some of these cases are related to each other.

Symptoms of the illness usually appear three to four days after exposure and can last for as long as 10 days. MDHHS officials state that some infections are very mild, but others can be severe. People experiencing symptoms of E. coli infection should consult a health care provider as soon as possible.

E. coli symptoms

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea -- often bloody
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Ways to prevent infection, transmission

  • Washing hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Never reuse sauce on cooked food used to marinate raw meat or poultry.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Be sure to have on hand plenty of clean utensils and platters.
  • Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs or cooked food sit at room temperature for more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cooking meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Consumers should use a food thermometer as color is not an indicator of “doneness.”
  • Rinsing fruits and vegetables well under running water. There is no need to use soap.
  • Avoid raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products and unpasteurized juices (like fresh apple cider).
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools and backyard “kiddie” pools.

“While reports of E. coli illness typically increase during the warmer summer months, this significant jump in cases is alarming,” wrote MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian in a news release. “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.”