An outbreak of E. coli bacteria has been reported to have infected 24 people in the province of New Brunswick since Tuesday.
Dr. Denis Allard, New Brunswick’s deputy chief medical officer of health says officials are currently trying to determine the source of the outbreak.
Allard does report that, based on the reported symptoms of the infected, officials think that the outbreak is the 0157:H7, a severe strain that can lead to the development of haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which can cause kidney failure. So far, several cases have been confirmed as E. coli 0157:H7 but the number has not been released, according to CTVNews.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is conducting testing to trace the source, but so far nothing has been found.
Twenty of the reported cases originated in the Miramichi region, an unusual occurrence in this type of contamination according to Dr. Allard. The remaining cases were two people in the Bathurst area and another two in the Saint John region. Most of the infected have been residents either in their teens or middle age.
The majority, 88 per cent of the patients being treated, reported symptoms of bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms of E. coli infection include severe abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and fever.
About a dozen of the people have been hospitalized so far, although none of the cases are believed to be life-threatening at this point.
E. coli O157:H7 illnesses are associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef or pork. People can also become infected by drinking water contaminated with E. coli or by eating contaminated vegetables.
E. coli bacteria can be easily spread from person to person, so the province's Health Department is advising residents to:
- practice regular hand washing
- thoroughly wash fresh fruits and vegetables
- thoroughly cook meat
- use warm, soapy water or a chlorine-based or other approved sanitizers to clean cutting boards, utensils, your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially meat and fish.
Most people infected with E. coli recover within seven to 10 days. People who experience the above symptoms are advised to contact their medical provider immediately.
Pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are at risk for developing serious complications that include seizures, strokes and kidney damage. In severe cases, the kidney damage is permanent or fatal.
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