MICHIGAN, USA — State and local health departments are investigating an uptick in illnesses related to E. coli, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) said Tuesday.
MDHHS reports 98 cases of E. coli infection across the state this August, compared to 20 cases in August 2021.
Health officials saw the biggest increases in Kent, Ottawa and Oakland counties.
Laboratory results have linked some of the cases to each other, but the investigation is still in the early stages, officials say.
“While reports of E. coli illness typically increase during the warmer summer months, this significant jump in cases is alarming,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “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."
Bagdasarian reminds residents to tell their health care provided if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Severe stomach cramps
- Diarrhea – often bloody
Symptoms usually appear three to four days after exposure, but may appear anywhere from one to ten days.
The infection can be anywhere from mild to life-threatening. Young children and older adults are at an increased risk of being severely ill. Five to ten percent of confirmed cases develop hemolytic uremic syndrome.
MDHHS officials say it's important to take the following steps to prevent an E. coli infection:
- 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.
- Always marinating foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Never reuse sauce on cooked food used to marinate raw meat or poultry.
- Never placing 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 letting raw meat, poultry, eggs or cooked food sit at room temperature 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.
- Avoiding raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products and unpasteurized juices (like fresh apple cider).
- Avoiding swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools and backyard “kiddie” pools.
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