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Ottawa County issues warning on increasing E. Coli infections

A Pennsylvania woman developed a urinary tract infection cased by <em>Escherichia coli</em> bacteria that were found to be resistant to colistin, an antibiotic that is seen as the last line of defense.
A Pennsylvania woman developed a urinary tract infection cased by Escherichia coli bacteria that were found to be resistant to colistin, an antibiotic that is seen as the last line of defense.

The department is currently monitoring 9 shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) cases, which it says is significantly higher than the typical number during this time of the year. Of the nine cases, four have resulted in hospitalization.

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health is alerting the community to increasing cases of shiga-toxin producing E. coli infections (STEC).

The department is currently monitoring 9 STEC cases, which it says is significantly higher than the typical number during this time of the year. Of the nine cases, four have resulted in hospitalization.

STEC is a pathogenic form of E. Coli that’s often associated with foodborne outbreaks. While mild infections can improve within five to seven days, for some individuals, including young children and the elderly, it can be life-threatening.

Ottawa County is teaming up with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to investigate possible links between cases.

The department says STEC symptoms can vary but usually include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, vomiting and or a low-grade fever – typically appearing three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria.

Public health officials urge anyone who experiencing the following to contact their health care provider right away:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than three days
  • A fever higher than 102˚F
  • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine

Prevention steps include:

  • Practice good handwashing often
  • Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says the contents have already been washed.
  • Cook meats thoroughly. Always cook food thoroughly and use a food thermometer to check that the meat has reached a safe internal temperature. You cannot tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at its color.
  • Don’t cause cross-contamination in food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with hot, soapy water after they touch raw meat. If possible, use separate cutting boards for raw meat.
  • Avoid raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (such as fresh apple cider).
  • Don’t swallow water when swimming and when playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.
  • Know if you are at higher risk of “food poisoning”. People with higher chances for foodborne illness are pregnant women, newborns, children, older adults, and those with weak immune systems, such as people with cancer, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS.
  • Stay home if you are sick. Because STEC can be so contagious, this is especially important for people who work at or attend school or childcare, and for those who work in food handling.

More information can be found, here.

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