E. coli Outbreak Under Investigation in Michigan, Ohio

The Columbus, Ohio Public Health Department has been investigating a multi-state <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">E. coli outbreak in which 13 cases have been reported, with five confirmed, according to 10TV.com’s Glenn McEntyre. The five confirmed cases match E. coli cases reported in Michigan, said Jose Rodriguez, Columbus Public Health spokesman, according to 10TV.com. Other cases are being probed and the origin of the outbreak is unknown.

“We are currently working with all identified cases to collect the information we need,” said Columbus Medical Director Dr. Mysheika LeMaile-Williams, quoted 10TV.com. “And we are actively doing everything we can to identify the source of infection,” Dr. LeMaile-Williams added. Reports of illnesses began streaming in April 16.

While the source is believed to be food borne, the source has not been identified, said 10TV.com. “If you have any symptoms, contact your medical provider,” Dr. LeMaile-Williams said. “That’s very important because we need to know as many people as possible so that we can help identify the source. The more sources of info we have in terms of potential products that they may have consumed, the faster we can get to the answer,” quoted the news source.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), E. coli is one of the leading causes of food borne illness in the United States; however, estimates are believed to be significantly higher since the majority of E. coli poisoning cases generally go unreported.

E. coli are a group of bacteria found in animal intestines and feces and are normally found in the digestive tracts of cows. Ground beef and other meats can become contaminated with E. coli bacteria during the slaughtering process.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps and watery diarrhea that may turn bloody within one to three days. Although some strains of E. coli are actually necessary for digestion, some are harmful, deadly, toxin producing, and part of a group of E. coli called Verocytotoxigenic E. coli, or VTECs, also known as Shiga-producing E. coli.

The very young, seniors, and persons with weak immune systems, for instance those undergoing chemotherapy or who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, are the most susceptible to food borne illness. And, while most will recover from E. coli poisoning within seven-to-10 days, extreme cases can require hospitalization, dialysis treatments, and blood transfusions, and can result in cystitis, kidney failure, and death by fatal blood poisoning known as deadly septicemia.

E. coli victims sometimes require kidney transplants and may have scarred intestines that cause long-lasting digestive difficulty. Even E. coli patients who supposedly recovered can experience long-term health problems later on in life. For instance, it is estimated that 10 percent of all E. coli sufferers develop a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, in which their kidneys and other organs fail. According to the reports cited by the LATimes, E. coli O157:H7, for instance, tends to impact those under the age of 19 and taints ground beef and other meats, green leafy vegetables, raw milk, and raw milk cheeses. Some 15 percent of children infected with this strain develop HUS.

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