523695_1.jpgWestern U.P. Health Department is investigating a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 cases who became ill over the Christmas holidays. Initially 3 local and 2 non-local cases were identified.

Investigation has led to the identification of two additional cases. Four of the cases were hospitalized; no deaths have occurred. The health department has determined that the likely source of the outbreak was an ill food-handler at The Ambassador, a Houghton restaurant. The restaurant owner and his staff have been working cooperatively with the health department’s Environmental Health division during the investigation. The restaurant remains open for business and there is no anticipated on-going risk of illness due to this outbreak.

“Such an investigation is a routine part of health department operations,” said Dr. Teresa Frankovich, M.D. “The cases came to light earlier this month and health department staff have been conducting interviews with the ill individuals to look for exposures they might have in common. All of the cases have now been linked through the restaurant.”

According to Dr. Frankovich, “Occasional, single cases of E coli diarrhea occur sporadically, but it is unusual to have a cluster of cases at the same time. Public health investigates clusters of disease or illness to make sure that there is no on-going risk of illness and to make sure prevention efforts are in place.”