Got E. coli?

An Ottawa County cow share program has been linked to one Muskegon County resident and one Kent County resident becoming ill with the O157 strand of E. coli from unpasteurized milk.
Krystle Wagner
May 17, 2014

Those cases come days after reports of five Michigan residents — including one from Ottawa County — becoming sick from eating undercooked ground beef and becoming infected with E. coli.

Lisa LaPlante, spokeswoman for the Kent County Health Department, said the cases are separate and have “ironic timing.” She said health departments do tend to see an increase in the amount of reported E. coli cases at this time of year related to not properly washing fruits and vegetables.

LaPlante said the 6-year-old Kent County child who became ill is doing better and wasn’t hospitalized.

“At that age, it can be serious and deadly,” she said.

Jill Montgomery Keast, health education supervisor for Public Health Muskegon County, said they aren’t looking into other cases, and she didn’t know the condition of the 31-year-old Muskegon County woman who became ill in March.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, milk can become contaminated through cow feces getting into direct contact with the milk, infection in the cow’s udder, cow disease, bacteria that lives on the skin of cows, insects, rodents, environment and cross-contamination from humans.

Symptoms of the illness include vomiting, abdominal pain along with a fever, diarrhea, body aches and headaches.

Between 1998 and 2011, 79 percent of dairy product-associated outbreaks were reported to the CDC, and 148 outbreaks were caused by consumption of raw milk or related products.

Health officials said it is illegal to sell raw milk or raw milk products in Michigan because of the health risks associated with its consumption. The product is obtained through herd share programs, which are not licensed or inspected by state or local agencies.

Montgomery Keast recommends residents do research before consuming foods that haven’t been approved. She recommends looking at information released by the Michigan Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

LaPlante advises people to thoroughly cook meat and check the temperature with a thermometer. She also urges caution in consuming undercooked hamburger and unpasteurized milk.


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