A food poisoning lawsuit was filed last week by a Michigan State University student who became sick after eating iceberg lettuce contaminated with E.coli bacteria last month. At least 36 other people in Michigan have also been sickened by the lettuce which originated in California.
Between September 8th and September 19th, an E. coli outbreak emerged in Michigan with several cases reported at Michigan State University and a jail in Lenawee County. It subsequently spread throughout the state, with cases of food poisoning identified in the Detroit area and five other counties.
The first E. coli lawsuit tied to the Michigan outbreak was filed by Samantha Steffen of East Lansing against Aunt Mid’s Produce of Detroit, who was the local supplier for the contaminated lettuce.
The lawsuit alleges that Steffen was sickened by tainted iceberg lettuce she ate in mid-September at Michigan State University. As a result of severe food poisoning, she suffered bloody diarrhea and was hospitalized with dehydration. Stool samples have confirmed the presence of E. coli O157:H7, which is the strain of bacteria seen in the outbreak.
E.coli O157:H7 is one of the more common strains of bacteria linked to food poisoning in the United States. When left untreated, it can lead to dehydration.
While most healthy adults recover within a few week from Ecoli food poisoning, young children and the elderly could be at risk for more severe illness. If the toxin enters the blood stream, E. coli could lead to kidney failure known as Hemolytic-Urenia Syndrome (HUS).
Michigan state health officials have confirmed 36 cases of food poisoning associated with the contaminated lettuce, and at least 18 people have been hospitalized as a result of their injuries.
Although the exact cause of the E. coli contamination of the iceberg lettuce has not yet been identified, investigators indicated on Thursday that the produce originated in California before being shipped to Michigan.
Since no new cases have been reported in recent weeks, a Michigan Department of Agriculture spokeswoman indicates that the contaminated lettuce is likely no longer on the market. However, the investigation is ongoing.