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Health officials investigating 4th possible case of E. coli in Lucas County

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Three people continue to recover in Lucas County after a serious outbreak of E. coli sickness and health officials are investigating a fourth possible case.

Detriot-based Wolverine Packing Co. has recalled about 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products sold for restaurant use in four states that may be contaminated with the bacteria E. coli.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Monday that affected Wolverine Packing Co. products were produced between March 31 and April 18. They were shipped to distributors in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio.

The products bear the establishment number "EST. 2574B" and will have a production date code in the format "Packing Nos: MM DD 14" between "03 31 14" and "04 18 14."

E. coli can cause severe cramps, nausea and diarrhea, as well as other complications. Dr. Grossman said all four have been suffering from vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly blood or mucous in their stool.

The Lucas County Health Department wrapped up a media conference Monday May 19 explaining the three confirmed cases in the area. None of the Lucas County cases are young children but the health commissioner says he will be very concerned if someone in the five-years-old and under age group gets sick. He also said children under five are most susceptible to a condition from E. Coli called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. It attacks blood cells and kidneys.

"Unfortunately this bacteria has the potential to cause much more significant disease and even potential death and that's why we are bringing it up," said Dr. Grossman.

Commissioner David Grossman says a 19, 23, and 42-year-old have been sickened with E. coli and at least two were hospitalized. A 17-year-old could be a fourth case and they are investigating.

If a young child would get sick from this tainted beef, Grossman is concerned about a condition where bacteria could damage blood cells and cause severe kidney damage.

The commissioner says none of the beef was sold in stores or any schools, but two of the cases involved people who ate at Toledo restaurants. He won't reveal the establishment's name until the investigation is complete, but said it was a sit-down place, where the people who got sick may have ordered the beef a certain way. It may not have been cooked long enough to kill the bacteria.

"We will follow up a little bit. If there are any of these people that get sicker or if this new case which is under investigation right now, pans out to be something worse, we're going to pursue that. We always ask the same questions, ‘Who were you with? Who ate with you?'" said Dr. Grossman.

Grossman says he is confident that the Toledo restaurant has eliminated the rest of the tainted beef it may have had. He says the three people confirmed with E. coli are home and improving.

"All my colleagues are pretty aware of these types of illness. If it looks more severe, we really pursue it to the hilt. Once we get one then our gate's open. We'll take off," Dr. Grossman said.

Dr. Grossman said you should seek medical attention if you suffer the symptoms for more than one day.

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