MDCH Investigating E. Coli O157 Illness Cluster, Possible Case in Northern Michigan

At least five people in four different counties are infected with the same strain of E. Coli bacteria.

And a sixth could be here in Northern Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Community Health is investigating what they’re calling a cluster of E. Coli O157 illnesses.

The Benzie-Leelanau Health Department was notified of a woman in their area infected with E. Coli.

She recently traveled to Grand Rapids and ate ground beef – a common factor in the other five illnesses.

While none of the five people confirmed to have this strain of the E. Coli bacteria have suffered serious health complications, the threat of an outbreak is what’s worrying health officials.

Anyone who has eaten ground beef and experiences symptoms like severe diarrhea could be at risk.

It’s why the state is launching an investigation in Washtenaw, Livingston, Oakland, Ottawa and now Kent County.

The state is trying to narrow down possible sources – the infected people ate ground beef at different restaurants in different locations.

Doctor Collins, the Medical Director at the Benzie-Leelanau, and Grand Traverse County Health Department, has three food preparation tips to avoid E. Coli in ground beef.

First, make sure you’re cooking or grilling all beef to 160 degrees internally.

Second, avoid cross contaminating cookware that has touched raw beef, with other food you’re serving like vegetables.

And third, make sure you’re washing your hands after handling any raw beef.

Doctor Collins says he hopes to get the test results back from the E. Coli patient in the Benzie-Leelanau area early next week.