Second Niagara restaurant closes over E. coli concerns
Mike Barber , Canwest News Service
Source of Article: http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=eb1e3d3f-26d3-4248-86ed-fef2a5ff2feb
Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2008
As the number E. coli cases and questions in the Niagara
region continue to mount, the area health authority said Wednesday that time
and patience are needed before answers are found.
Twenty-three people in the southern Ontario
area infected with E. coli are currently being investigated by Niagara Region
Public Health, eight of whom have been confirmed to have E. coli 0157: H7, said
Dr. Doug Sider, NRPH's
associate medical officer of health.
The outbreak has closed two local restaurants - Little Red Rooster in
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., and M.T. Bellies in Welland
Ont., - and it appears a third or more sources could be affected as well.
But lab results and
statistical analysis confirming whether the two closures are linked won't be
available until the weekend at the earliest, Sider
And while molecular fingerprints of confirmed cases at both restaurants
are the same, Sider said it was too early to
determine if there was a common source, and if so, what it might be.
Three of the four cases from Welland and two of the 16 from
Niagara-on-the-Lake are confirmed to be E. coli O157: H7. But the remaining
three confirmed cases have not yet yielded a third source of infection.
E. coli O157: H7 is a harmful strain of bacteria that can lead to bloody
diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever.
In severe cases, E. coli infection can lead to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, commonly referred to as hamburger disease.
The illness, which mostly affects children younger than five years old,
can lead to kidney failure and death.
Sider could confirm that the fingerprint of the
Niagara strain is not the same as that of a larger E. coli outbreak in North Bay, Ont. A Harvey's restaurant in the central Ontario city has been linked to 230
suspected cases, 45 of which have been confirmed as having E. coli O157: H7.
Sider said the public health department has
contacted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see if the
fingerprint had arisen in the U.S.
New York state public health officials
were also alerted to look for potential E. coli cases coming from Ontario.
"We need to look locally, we need to look regionally, we need to look
nationally, we need to look internationally," said Sider.
Should the fingerprint have a match elsewhere, determining the source
might be made easier, he said.
Epidemiologists from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Ontario
Agency for Health Protection and Promotion have been dispatched to Niagara to help investigate.