The Cause of Illness that Left 200 Sick has Been Determined

E. coli outbreak hits 43 near Hamilton


Source of Article:


Mike Barber, Canwest News Service

Published: Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The number of suspected cases linked to an E. coli outbreak in Burlington, Ont., spiked Tuesday, just as another restaurant in the nearby Niagara region prepared to reopen on Wednesday after a similar outbreak closed it last month.

The Halton Region Health Department said Tuesday that officials were investigating 43 suspected cases of E. coli - up from 28 on Monday - originating from Johnathan's Family Restaurant in Burlington, between Hamilton and Toronto.

Of the 48 cases, three have been confirmed to be E. coli O157.

The molecular fingerprint of the Burlington infections has been matched to those of the Niagara outbreak, where 47 suspected cases, 12 of which have been confirmed, led to the closure of two restaurants.

Both M.T. Bellies in Welland, Ont., and the Little Red Rooster in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake have been linked to 21 cases each of suspected E. coli infection.

The remaining five suspected cases have not been linked to any food establishment.

Niagara Region Public Health said Tuesday that the Little Red Rooster had "satisfied all the criteria" for reopening. The restaurant's owners said they would reopen on Wednesday.

Dr. Robin Williams, the medical officer for Niagara health authority, said the strain of E. coli O157 was very rare. She said that given three restaurants in two regions bore the same strain, common food distributors are being looked at to help determine a source of infection.

Early analysis, said Williams, suggested salad ingredients could be a potential culprit, but nothing has been confirmed.

E. coli is usually found in undercooked ground beef, but has also affected water supplies and most recently, lettuce grown in California and distributed throughout the United States - including more than 30 cases in nearby Michigan.

A third E. coli outbreak in North Bay, Ont., has led to 246 suspected cases of infection, 49 of which have been confirmed to be the harmful food-borne bacterium.

That outbreak, which closed a Harvey's fast-food restaurant on Oct. 12, has seen cases in Quebec, B.C., and 10 other districts of Ontario, but has not been linked to the other outbreaks.

No source of contamination has yet to be determined in any of the outbreaks and the investigations are ongoing.



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