E. coli outbreaks and college life are becoming more and more synonymous. Most parents of incoming freshman worry about alcohol and other extracurricular activities, but several recent E. coli outbreaks might cause a shift in the worry paradigm. Maybe not. Nevertheless, today, lettuce was finally announced as the source of the large E. coli O145 outbreak that has sickened as many as 60 people, including many students, in Ohio, New York, and Michigan. The outbreak has reached Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, and Daemen College in Buffalo.
In May 2008, multiple students of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington were sickened by E. coli O157 in an outbreak that ultimately caused at least 10 illnesses. The source of the outbreak: E. coli-contaminated lettuce. Heather Whybrew was one of the students sickened.
In September 2008, at least 26 Michigan residents, including multiple students from the University of Michigan and Michigan State, were sickened in an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to, yes, E. coli-contaminated lettuce that was grown and sold by Santa Barbara Farms. One of the victims of the 2008 University of Michigan E. coli outbreak was Lindsey Jennings, who later went on to testify in Washington DC in support of food safety.
And also in September 2008 (a bad year for college e. coli outbreaks), at least 17 residents of Boulder, Colorado were sickened in an outbreak linked to a Boulder-area Jimmy Johns restaurant. Many of the sick people in the outbreak were University of Colorado students.