Source of Article:http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/3879
Ingham County Health Department confirms that since last week, seven Michigan
State University (MSU) students have tested positive for the E.
coli bacteria, with three cases resulting in identical matches.
is expanding its investigation into at least four other counties and over a
dozen other cases; state health officials are working to determine if the new
cases are linked to MSU’s outbreak. Dr. Dean Sienko, Ingham County Health Department said, “We put out
an alert that went statewide with our colleagues at the state health
department.” It now seems as if investigations include about one dozen
cases in LenaweeCounty; one case each has been confirmed
in Saint Clair, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties, which are identical matches to
three MSU cases; however, health officials report that these cases have no
connection to the university.
Regarding the diversity in locations hit by the
outbreaks, James McCurtis, Michigan Department Of Community Health said, “To have all these people who
possibly have E. coli and possibly from the same strain, that is
unusual.” Investigators are trying to figure out what all those who have
fallen ill have in common. “We want to find out what have they eaten,
where did they eat, you know all of those questions, that relate, that could
bring some type of answer to this,” McCurtis
said. “So far, there is no clear pattern that’s jumping out at us that
would account for all the cases,” Sienko said.
The E. coli strain involved in all confirmed cases
is O157:H7, a virulent, contagious, and sometimes fatal strain. Strain
O157:H7 is typically spread when a person fails to properly wash his or her
hands and then handles food. Once the food is eaten, the bacteria take
hold. “As always, hand washing remains the most effective way of
preventing contagious illness,” university physician Dr. Beth Alexander warned.
E. coli are a group of bacteria found in animal
intestines and feces. Some strains are necessary for digestion; some are
harmful, even deadly, such as the very rare and toxin-producing strain E. coli
O111 that recently made headlines in Oklahoma.
Of particular concern is the virulent O157:H7 strain that is generally found to
be the culprit in E. coli-related food-borne illness outbreaks and has been
confirmed to be to blame in a variety of cases in this outbreak. Both
strains are among those E. coli that may cause serious disease and death and
are in a group called Verocytotoxigenic E. coli
(VTEC) linked to food poisoning. VTECs are very
serious and can cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, deadly septicemia, and
In the US, E. coli is the leading cause of
food-borne illness, accounting for about 73,000 infections and 61 deaths; last
year, over 22 million pounds of beef and vegetables were recalled due to E.
coli outbreaks. And, now, there is growing concern in the scientific
community—not just because of the seeming prevalence of all manner of food
borne illnesses—because instances of drug resistant E. coli are being reported
world-wide and are similar in path to a mutated staph called MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
that, when not treated early, is resistant to all but the one antibiotic of