The Ottawa County Department of Public Health is alerting the public to increasing cases of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) infections in the community. The Department is currently monitoring 9 cases of STEC, which is significantly higher than the typical number of cases reported at this time of the year. The Department is working with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to investigate possible links between the cases. Four of the 9 cases have been hospitalized for their symptoms.

Jan Larson McLaughlin of the BG Independent News reports that the Wood County Health Department has recorded three years’ worth of E. coli cases in the past week.

Health Commissioner Ben Robison reported to the Wood County Board of Health Thursday evening that 15 known cases of E. coli have been identified in the last week. That compares to 27 cases in the last five and a half years in the county, he said.

“We are in the very front stages of an investigation,” Robison said.

Tests are being conducted by the Ohio Department of Health to see if there is a link between the cases. The results are expected back next Tuesday.

Robison cautioned that the 15 known cases are likely just the beginning.

“This number we expect will grow,” he said.

Of the 15 cases reported so far, five people were hospitalized, ranging in age from 21 to 60, Robison said. 

The Wood County Health Department is partnering with other agencies to try and solve the puzzle of the origin of the E. coli. Those partners include the Ohio Department of Health and other county health departments. It could be expanded to the Ohio Department of Agriculture if a link is identified to food products in the early stages of growing or processing.