Foodborne Illnesses / E. coli /

E. coli O157:H7 tied to Grassfields Cheese

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), and local health departments are investigating an outbreak of six cases of non-O157:H7 Shiga toxin- producing Escherichia coli infections in Michigan residents from five counties: Calhoun, Kent, Livingston, St Clair, and Wayne; a seventh case is from out of state. All six cases have been laboratory confirmed at MDHHS and have the same of strain of E coli.

While the investigation is still underway, several of the ill individuals have reported consuming meals containing Grassfields cheese products in multiple restaurant settings. Samples of cheeses have been collected from restaurants and from Grassfields Cheese in Coopersville, MI. Bacteria matching the E coli strain found in the ill individuals was identified in one Grassfields cheese sample through testing done at the MDARD Geagley Lab and the MDHHS Lab. Testing of more cheeses is underway.

Cases range in age from 15 to 37 years old and illness onset dates range from March 13, 2016, to July 13, 2016. One case was hospitalized but has since been discharged.

Grassfields Cheese LLC has issued a nationwide recall of all types and sizes of organic cheese manufactured from December 1, 2015, through June 1, 2016. Cheeses include Gouda, Onion ‘n Garlic, Country Dill, Leyden, Edam, Lamont Cheddar, Chili Cheese, Fait Fras, Polkton Corners and Crofters.

Illness caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli can include symptoms of acute diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, and abdominal cramps with little or no fever. The illness usually lasts one week. In some people, especially young children, the elderly, or those who are immunocompromised, a more severe illness, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and even death, is possible. Persons with HUS have kidney failure and often require dialysis and transfusions.

Anyone who has recently eaten Grassfields Cheese products and is experiencing symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and their local health department.