April 4, 2020

Fond du Lac E. coli Outbreak Case Count Reaches 22

According to the Pioneer Press, at least 22 people have been sickened with E. coli O157 on the Fond du Lac Reservation in northern Minnesota. The Band of Lake Superior Chippewa posted news of the outbreak on Juy 21, 2014. There is no new information about this outbreak at the Minnesota Department of Health web site.

E. coli BacteriaThis is not the same strain of E. coli associated with Applebee’s restaurants that has sickened more than a dozen people in Minnesota. That is a rare strain of E. coli O111 that has not been seen in the United States until now.

Food poisoning cases do increase in the summer months, as more people eat fresh produce that may be contaminated with the pathogenic bacteria, and more cook outdoors. Outdoor cooking must follow special food safety rules, including cooking chicken and ground meats to safe temperatures and keeping food below 40°F and above 140°F. Very warm temperatures also increase the rate of bacterial growth.

The Fond du Lac Reservation has had more outdoor gatherings recently, including an elder picnic and powwows. These types of potlucks can be vectors for bacterial transmission since many people don’t follow food safety rules when they prepare food in their homes. The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea that can be watery and/or bloody, and vomiting. A serious complication of an E. coli infection, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can occur in some vulnerable patients. That can lead to kidney failure, so medical treatment for these infections is essential.

Public health officials are investigating this outbreak and hope to have a cause of contamination pinpointed soon. Doctors and hospitals must report cases of E. coli infections to health officials so outbreaks can be traced and stopped before more people get sick.

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