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Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issues updated public health alert on E. coli outbreak

Confirmed cases in Clinton and Jackson counties
MDHHS
Posted at 6:10 PM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 18:10:58-04

JACKSON, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an updated public health alert Friday about more confirmed cases of E. coli in multiple Michigan counties, which included both Clinton and Jackson counties.

The department said in a news release that there are 43 confirmed E. coli cases that matched the outbreak strain that has popped up in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania in the past week.

The ages of those affected range between 6 to 94 years old. Approximately 56 percent of the people with confirmed cases have been hospitalized.

“We are reminding residents in Michigan to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms of E. coli illness such as severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting or other gastrointestinal distress,” said Dr. Alexis Travis, senior deputy director of public health administration at MDHHS. “Additionally, we urge residents to take proper precautions when handling food and practice safe food preparation.”

The release also said that 55 percent of the people reported to have consumed food items at Wendy's locations.

"While a specific food item has not yet been identified as the source of illnesses, investigations are ongoing and focusing on sandwiches topped with romaine lettuce," the release said. "Currently there is not a recommendation to avoid eating at Wendy’s while the restaurant works with local public health departments to remove potentially implicated products."

The other counties with outbreak cases are Allegan, Branch, Genesee, Gratiot, Kent, Macomb, Midland, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Ogemaw, Ottawa, Saginaw, Washtenaw and Wayne as well as the city of Detroit.

Symptoms of E. coli tend to appear three to four days after exposure, but symptoms could appear as quickly as a day after exposure or as long as 10 days.

The department recommends good hand washing techniques to prevent E. coli exposure, and it also recommends rinsing fruits and vegetables under running water.

Here are some of the department's other recommendations:

  • 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.”
  • 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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