Health officials looking into a cluster of E. coli contamination in Michigan

May 14, 2014

Health officials suspect undercooked ground beef.
Health officials suspect under cooked ground beef.
Credit user i believe i can fry / Flickr

State health officials say they're working with health departments in Kent, Livingston, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties to investigate a cluster of recent illnesses due to the bacteria E. coli O157.

The state Department of Community Health and the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced Wednesday that the suspected source of the bacteria is ground beef.

More from the MDCH press release:

Laboratory results suggest these illnesses are linked to a common source. The investigation is ongoing, and preliminary information collected from ill persons indicates that ground beef is most likely the source. Ill individuals ate undercooked ground beef at several different restaurants in multiple locations. MDARD is working with local health departments and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine the source of the ground beef and how widely it was distributed.

Officials say there have been five confirmed illnesses reported in adults between the ages of 20-41, with symptoms starting April 22 to May 1. No deaths have been reported, and three people have been hospitalized.

The MDCH reports that none of the sick individuals have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), "a severe complication of E. coli O157 infection."

Laboratory results suggest that the illnesses are linked to undercooked ground beef at several different restaurants in multiple locations. More testing is planned.

E. coli can cause severe cramps, nausea and diarrhea, as well as other complications.

E. coli O157 illnesses can be very serious or life-threatening, especially for young children, older adults, and people who are immunocompromised,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive at the MDCH. “Whether you cook at home or order in a restaurant, ground meats, including ground beef, should always be cooked thoroughly to the proper temperature."