MAPLE RAPIDS – Three people in eastern Gratiot County, including two young children, have been sickened in an E. coli outbreak.
The two children were hospitalized and developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney disorder that stems from E. coli poisoning.
The third patient, a parent of one of the child patients, did not develop the kidney disorder and is recovering from the E. coli infection.
The children are not related.
“This strain of E. coli is very potent and troublesome,” said Mid-Michigan District Health Department (MMDHD) Medical Director Dr. Robert Graham. “We urge everyone to take precautions to prevent becoming infected by this germ.”
The MMDHD, Michigan Department of Community Health and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are investigating the source of the E. coli but has few leads to go on so far.
“We haven’t been able to pin it down,” Graham said. “The source is important to find, but it’s more important to use preventative measure.”
E. coli is a form of bacteria normally found in animal guts. It can spread from fecal matter into food that humans consume through undercooked meat, unpasteurized natural beverages, dirty water and pets with diarrhea.
People most commonly contract E. coli through tainted meat and milk. It also can be passed from person to person.
E. coli causes nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever, loss of appetite, abdominal bloating, diarrhea and bloody stool. Kidney problems one week after onset allowing chemicals usually filtered out of the blood to build up in dangerous amounts.
People should see medical attention if they are in close contact with someone with E. coli and develop diarrhea or if they have diarrhea that lasts for 48 hours or longer.
Graham urges everyone to take the following precautions:
• Cook all meat, especially ground meat, to a temperature of 155 degrees for 10 seconds or until the juice from it becomes clear.
• Avoid unpasteurized apple cider and milk.
• Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables before eating.
• Wash your hands before preparing or eating food and after visiting the restroom or changing a diaper.