Michigan Schools Hit by E. Coli Outbreak

Michigan State reports seven confirmed cases of one strain, while the University of Michigan has three.

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A couple cases of bad food poisoning that sent a half-dozen Michigan State students to the hospital two weeks back turns out to be a statewide outbreak of E. coli. State health officials have confirmed 24 cases of E. coli poisoning in Michigan, including seven from MSU and three from the University of Michigan. The rest of the confirmed cases were spread across the state, including five in a county jail. Aside from what the health officials could verify, MSU officials suspect an additional 20 or so students had E. coli poisoning.

All 24 of the confirmed statewide cases were caused by the same sometimes-fatal 0157:H7 strain, which causes bloody diarrhea and can lead to liver and kidney damage. Researchers say the Michigan's cases are a genetic match to E. coli in New York, Oregon, Ohio, and Illinois.

Campus and state health administrators have yet to identify the source. As a precaution, MSU has removed frozen turkey and particular produce items from its cafeteria for the time being. Now that no incidents have been reported for almost a week, school officials have also begun surveying students from several dorms, asking them what they had eaten in the past three weeks. The answers could help the local and state health departments narrow their search for the source of the outbreak.