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article imageE. coli outbreak in Canada under investigation — Warning issued

By Karen Graham     Jan 14, 2017 in Food
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), in collaboration with federal and provincial public health partners, is investigating an outbreak of Escherichia coli, called E. coli O121. The source of the outbreak has not been identified.
PHAC has identified 12 cases of E. coli O121 in three provinces, all matching the genetic fingerprint, but the source of the outbreak is still under investigation, according to Food Safety news.
The three provinces include British Columbia (4), Saskatchewan (4), and Newfoundland and Labrador (4). The illness onset dates range from November to December 2016. Four individuals were hospitalized. These individuals have recovered or are recovering, according to the PHAC notice, dated January 13, 2017.
E. coli lives in the intestines of cattle, poultry, and other animals. While most E. coli are harmless, there are strains, like E. coli O121 that can be very dangerous. While most people made ill by E. coli experience a few days of upset stomach and then recover fully, infections can sometimes be life threatening.
Pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing serious complications that can even lead to death. Cooking food properly and following other food safety tips will reduce the chance of picking up an infection.
It's important to remember that food contaminated with E. coli can look, smell and taste normal. E. coli and many other harmful bacteria can be killed by cooking food properly. This means not eating hamburger patties that are pink in the middle. Keep raw meat separate from ready-to-eat foods in the home.
The government of Canada is investigating this outbreak, and the public will be kept informed. Further inquiries may be addressed by calling PHAC at 1-866-225-0709 or by email: info@hc-sc.gc.ca.
More about PHAC, Ecoli outbreak, Canada, public health warning, source unknown
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