The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued a press release about the E. coli outbreak linked to the consumption of recalled Grassfields cheeses. At least seven people are sick with non-O157:H7 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections. Six of those sickened live in Calhoun, St. Clair, Wayne, Kent, and Livingston counties in Michigan; a seventh case is from out of state.
The six people in Michigan have laboratory confirmed illnesses and are ill with the same outbreak strain of E. coli bacteria. Several of those sickened reported eating meals made with Grassfields cheese products in “multiple restaurant settings,” according to the press release. Samples of the cheeses have been collected from restaurants and from the Grassfields Cheese facility in Coopersville, Michigan.
Bacteria matching the E. coli strain found in the ill persons was identified in one Grassfields cheese sample through testing conducted at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). Testing of more cheese samples is underway.
Grassfields Cheese LLC has recalled all types and sizes of organic cheese manufactured at their facility from December 1, 2015 through June 1, 2016. The specific cheeses recalled include Gouda, Onion ‘n Garlic, Country Dill, Leyden, Edam, Lamont Cheddar, Chili Cheese, Fait Fras, Polkton Corners, and Crofters.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include abdominal cramps, mild fever, possible vomiting and nausea, and diarrhea, which may be bloody or watery. If this infection is improperly treated, or if the patient is very young or elderly, it may progress to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can destroy the kidneys.
Hemolytic uremic syndrome is characterized by damage and destruction of red blood cells, which can clog the blood vessels in the kidneys. Kidney failure, strokes, seizures, and death can follow. The symptoms of HUS include pale skin, lethargy, little or no urine output, skin rash, easy bruising, and bleeding from the nose or mouth. Anyone who is experiencing these symptoms should be taken to a doctor immediately for treatment.