sábado, 25 de octubre de 2008

Ontario E. coli outbreak continue expanding

Harvey's restaurant sold E coli O157:H7 contaminated foods

As many as 93 people in Ontario could be afflicted with a potentially deadly strain of E. coli linked to a popular fast-food restaurant, health authorities reported Thursday. Laboratory tests have confirmed 15 cases of poisoning due to E coli O157:H7, with 78 others under investigation, stemming from a Harvey's restaurant in North Bay, Ont.

Dr. Catherine Whiting, the area's medical officer of health, said in an interview the outbreak had spread beyond North Bay, with one confirmed case in Sudbury, Ont. Four other cases -- including one in eastern Ontario -- may also be linked to the outbreak, she said. Victims range in age from five to 84 years old, with nine reported to be in hospital and the rest recovering at home. However, no cases of kidney failure or other serious complications had been reported.

The North Bay Parry Sound District health unit said the outbreak originated at a Harvey's restaurant in the city, although the actual source of contamination was not yet known. The bacterial strain is the same one that afflicted the town of Walkerton, Ont., in May 2000, when seven people died and about 2,500 others fell ill. In that case, the outbreak was traced to contaminated municipal tap water, but that's been ruled out in the North Bay case. The very young and frail elderly are especially susceptible to kidney failure or even strokes resulting from infection. Other symptoms of infection include stomach cramps, nausea and possibly a fever. Treatment is essentially supportive -- giving patients fluids to prevent dehydration.

Because E. coli bacteria are easily spread, health officials urge especially careful handwashing and other sound hygiene practices when dealing with suspected cases of infection. One suspected case in the North Bay outbreak may be the result of an infected person passing on the contamination.

Source: The Canadian Press

Aporte: Guillermo Figueroa

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