Foodborne Illnesses / E. coli /

E. coli O145 outbreak, Michigan, Ohio and New York

There are currently three related clusters of E. coli O145 illnesses under investigation in Michigan, Ohio and New York at Ohio State University, University of Michigan and Daemen College. The first to be discovered was in Washtenaw County, Michigan. At least 10 residents have suffered culture-confirmed E. coli O145 infections after consuming contaminated food at several different retail foodservice establishments. Stool tests are currently pending for an additional 14 people suspected of having consumed E. coli O145-contaminated food.

Another cluster, which involves a genetically indistinguishable strain of E. coli O145, has occurred in Columbus, Ohio, where it has sickened at least 5 residents and likely more. Health officials in Ohio have indicated that the illnesses appear to be linked to a specific restaurant in Columbus, but have not specifically identified the restaurant. Daemen College appears to have at least three ill.

Working collaboratively, the States of Michigan, Ohio and New York were able to determine that these clusters are part of the same large outbreak of E. coli O145. Health authorities suspect that the Washtenaw County and Columbus cases were exposed to the same contaminated food product, and that the several retail food locations where outbreak cases had become infected were supplied with that food product by the same distributor. It is not yet publicly known what the exact food item is, but the Michigan Department of Agriculture is currently conducting a trace-back investigation, which, together with other known circumstances about the outbreak, suggests that the suspect food may be a produce item.