October 24, 2016

E. coli Outbreak in Canada Sickens 24

An E. coli O157 outbreak in Canada has sickened at least 24 people, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Public health officials do not yet know the source of the outbreak, but are investigating.

E. coli PhotoThe case count by province is: Alberta (1), Ontario (7), Quebec (14) and Nova Scotia (2). Illness onset dates were between July 12 and August 8, 2015, with the peak of illness reported occurring between July 25 and August 1, 2015.

In the past, outbreaks of E. coli have been linked to raw or undercooked meat products, raw dairy products, and raw fruits and vegetables that have been contaminated with feces. Anyone can get an E. coli infection, but those at most risk for serious complications are young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems.

The symptoms of an E. coli outbreak include diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery, abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, and vomiting. E. coli infections should never be treated with antibiotics, since that can make the risk of serious complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) much more likely.

To avoid the risk of E. coli infections, always cook foods to a safe internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer. Wash fruits and veggies before preparing or eating them. Keep hot foods hot, above 140°F, and cold foods cold, below 40°F.

Avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, poultry, seafood, and foods that are to be eaten raw, when preparing food, when shopping, and while storing these foods in the fridge. And always use warm soap water to clean knives, cutting boards, work surfaces, and your hands after preparing raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

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