Officials focus on delivered food as cause of E.coli outbreak at MSU

Ingham County health officials are focusing on the possibility that E. coli-tainted food was delivered to the Michigan State University campus as the source of an outbreak earlier this month that sent 10 MSU students to local doctors.

Investigators stress they have not honed in on a particular food or source of food — only that “they’re focusing on food from off-campus and delivered to campus,” Marcus Cheatham, spokesman of the Ingham County Health Department, said earlier today.

Lab tests have confirmed seven of more than 30 possible cases as an infection by E. coli 0157:H7, a possibly-deadly strain especially for the elderly and young children. Sixteen of the 30 remain “probable cases” as investigators await lab results. Others have been ruled out.

The MSU students are expected to fully recuperate, health officials have said.

The outbreak seems to have been confined. No new cases that were ultimately confirmed have been reported since Sept. 13. Though the last possible case was reported on the 18th, several of the latter cases have been ruled out, Cheatham said.

The department continues interviewing students and waiting for results from stool samples from some of several of students who either sought medical treatment or called the health department to report gastrointestinal problems after MSU officials e-mailed students last week to alert them to the E. coli outbreak.

The interviewing is tedious because investigators are asking students to recall the details of what they ate more than a week ago.

“It’s ‘Did you have lettuce on that grinder?’” Cheatham said, stressing that investigators have not yet honed in on a particular food or condiment. “It’s sort of gumshoe work at this point,” he said.