coli strain sickens seven
Source of Article: http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/city/story.html?id=f8defeb3-c0b5-406e-8491-67f388d20b24
cause kidney failure and even death
Michelle Lang, Calgary
Published: Thursday, January 15, 2009
Public health officials are investigating a virulent strain of E. coli bacteria
that has infected five Calgarians and at least two
other people since November, saying all the cases appear to be related.
Alberta Health Services physicians confirmed Wednesday they are probing a
cluster of seven cases of E. coli 0157: H7, which can lead to kidney failure
and death in a small percentage of people.
In addition to the five Calgary cases,
health officials are examining possible links with an Edmonton
patient and a Saskatchewan
patient infected with the bacteria.
think we see some patterns here," said Dr. Richard Musto,
medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services. "It's still
early, but it looks like there is some . . . connection between these
Two of the people required hospitalization, according to sources, who
added the Calgary
cases appear linked to three unnamed Vietnamese restaurants.
Musto would not confirm that any of the cases
required a hospital stay. He said the patients are now recovering and no new
cases have come forward in the past 12 days.
Musto also declined to comment on whether the
cases were linked to restaurant meals, noting the source of the infections
has not been confirmed.
E. coli 0157, which is best known for killing seven and sickening
thousands when the water supply in Walkerton, Ont., became contaminated with
the bacteria, has been a problem several times in the city in recent years.
In 2005, an outbreak of the bacteria, linked to marshmallow milkshakes
from Peters' Drive-In, sickened 18 people. Two people were hospitalized.
In the summer of 2007, an unexplained spike in the number of
E. coli cases sickened 57 Calgarians, more than
twice the usual number of cases in the city for the period.
Several people had to be hospitalized and six developed a potentially
life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can
lead to kidney failure.
An investigation into the cases showed no single source was behind the
Tanya Maksymic, whose daughter Julia became
seriously sick with E. coli in 2007, said news of the latest cases is
She said her daughter is now healthy, although she falls ill quite easily.
"I never let my guard down, I'm always taking extra
precautions," she said. "You don't live normally after that
In the latest cases, the seven people fell ill between Nov. 26 and Jan. 2.
Musto said he does not believe there is an
ongoing public health risk from the cluster of cases, noting no new cases
have appeared in recent days.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is responsible for
investigating E. coli cases if they are related to tainted meat that came
from a federally registered slaughterhouse, is aware of the cases, but has
not yet launched a probe.
"We are waiting for more information," said Susan Turner, a
spokeswoman for the federal agency. "There's no active investigation
until we have the facts confirmed."