June 19, 2018

E. Coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin

Amy Wergin, public health nurse manager for the Manitowoc County Health Department in Wisconsin confirmed to Food Poisoning Bulletin that there are two cases of E. coli infections with the same DNA fingerprint in that county. Those are the only cases with the same PFGE pattern in the country at this time. She also said that the department will release more information about the outbreak when the investigation is finished.

The bacteria causing the illness is E. coli O157:H7, the most common type of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. It can cause severe illness and complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure and death. Most people contract the infection by consuming contaminated vegetables, raw or undercooked ground beef, and unpasteurized milk.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea, which is often bloody and/or watery, severe abdominal and stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, and a mild fever. Those in high risk groups, including the very young, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and people with chronic illnesses, can develop complications and need to be hospitalized. If you live in that area and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. Even a mild E. coli infection can cause serious health problems in the future.

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