Public health officials in Michigan are warning residents of rising cases of E. coli infections.

Officials in Ottawa County report that they are tracking nine cases of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli. Four patients have been so sick they have been admitted to hospitals.

The county health officials say the nine infections are an unusually high number compared to this time in 2021.

County health officials are working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to determine if there are any links among the patients, including the possibility of common foods.

About E. coli infections
Anyone who has developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. 

Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients. 

People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.

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