10 of the 45 cases of E. coli outbreaks in Michigan are in Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As federal health officials investigate a possible link between a multistate E. coli outbreak and lettuce served on sandwiches at some Wendy’s franchisees, the number of cases in Michigan continues to grow.

Michigan had a total of 45 cases as of Monday. Ten of them are in Kent County, which has the most counties in the state. Ottawa County has six cases and there is one case each in Muskegon, Allegan and Branch counties.

Cathy Armstrong of the Kent County Health Department said the numbers are expected to rise.

“We got some cases towards the end of last week, so we don’t think it’s completely over yet,” Armstrong said.

Some of the patients are children being treated at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. Dr. Kira Sieplinga said the bacteria can be especially serious for children.

“We have seen several cases of children who have had acute kidney complications due to E. coli infections,” Sieplinga said. “The stress we are seeing during this outbreak may be more severe in children under the age of 10.”

Health departments are sending food samples for testing. A Hudsonville-area Wendy’s location temporarily closed to address non-lettuce-related health code violations. It is now open again, according to Ottawa County Department of Public Health spokeswoman Alison Clark. The department investigated after receiving reports of illnesses from people who had eaten there.

“No food source has yet been confirmed, but we held that food back so we could run tests,” Clark said.

Wendy’s sent News 8 a statement Monday saying it is taking steps to try to mitigate any potential contamination.

“We are fully cooperating with public health authorities in their ongoing investigation of the regional outbreak of E. coli reported in certain Midwestern states. While the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food as the source of that outbreak, we are taking the precaution of discarding and replacing sandwich lettuce in some restaurants in that region. The lettuce we use in our salads is different, and is not affected by this action. As a company, we are committed to maintaining our high standards of food safety and quality.”

Wendy’s

Health officials say that in addition to contacting your doctor if you get sick, you should report cases of E. coli to your county health department.

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