Listeria and cantaloupes have dominated food safety headlines lately, after a strangely quiet summer season that fortunately saw little E. coli O157:H7. But a bad bug like E. coli won’t stay down for long. And we are now in the midst of several significant E. coli outbreaks in Missouri, Michigan, and North Carolina, which follow closely on the heels of a Wisconsin outbreak that killed a small child. Here is what we know:
St. Louis County, Missouri E. coli Outbreak:
The St. Louis County Department of Health said this week that it is investigating the source of E. coli that has sickened at least 14 people. News reports Friday indicate that the outbreak has grown to include 22 people. At least 9 of the victims have been hospitalized, although there are no reports yet that anybody has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS. The health department is working to identify the source of the outbreak.
Michigan E. coli Outbreak:
Health officials say E. coli bacteria have sickened two children and one adult from mid-Michigan. The Mid-Michigan District Health Department said in a statement Wednesday that both children from the Maple Rapids area have been hospitalized with HUS. The health department said a third person from the area about 30 miles northwest of Lansing was recovering from an E. coli infection.
North Carolina E. coli Outbreak:
North Carolina Public Health officials updated the number of E. coli illnesses possible linked to attendance at the North Carolina State Fair. Of the 21 cases, 8 are confirmed and 13 cases still being investigated. All cases either reside in or traveled to Wake County in the 10 days prior to becoming ill. Additionally, 4 of the cases are still hospitalized, and all are children.
Wisconsin E. coli Outbreak:
Wisconsin’s Green County Health Department and the state Division of Public Health identified four Abe Lincoln Elementary School students infected with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 responsible for 9 illnesses and one death between mid-August and mid-September. No source has been identified for either the four recent cases or the nine earlier illnesses.