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Many of Michigan's E. coli Cases Linked to Lettuce

Contact: CONTACT: James McCurtis (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health, Department of

       Lansing - As a precautionary measure, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is issuing a public health alert due to illnesses from the 26 cases of E. coli strain O157:H7 that are thought to be associated with bagged, industrial-sized packages of iceberg lettuce sold through wholesale venues to restaurants and institutions. There is no evidence that the bagged lettuce at grocery stores is affected. Some of the 26 Michigan cases consumed shredded or chopped iceberg lettuce in restaurants or institutions purchased from Aunt Mid's Produce Company, a Detroit-based wholesale distributor; and other distributing outlets could be identified. Product trace back and additional tests results are still in progress.

      "Our top priority at the Michigan Department of Community Health is to protect the public," said Dr. Gregory Holzman, chief medical executive for MDCH. "We appreciate all of the assistance from Aunt Mid's. They have been very helpful in this investigation. We want to ensure that the public's health and well-being is protected. Even though the investigation is ongoing, available evidence is strongly pointing to iceberg lettuce."

     The 26 genetically linked cases are present in eight Michigan counties including seven at Michigan State University (Ingham County), five inmates at the Lenawee County Jail, three students at the University of Michigan (Washtenaw County), four in Macomb County, three each in Wayne, two in Kent counties, and one each in St. Clair and Oakland counties. Of the E. coli O157:H7 cases that are genetically linked, 10 have been hospitalized. These linked cases range in age from 11 to 81 years old. Symptoms of these confirmed genetically linked E. coli patients began on Sept. 8. More confirmed cases could surface as the investigation continues.

     The symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 may include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/less than 38.5˚C). Most people get better within 5-7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening. ###