The Cause of Illness that Left 200 Sick has Been Determined

12 new E. coli cases suspected in southern Ont.

Source of Article:


Mike Barber, Canwest News Service

Published: Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Another day of investigations into parallel E. coli outbreaks in the Niagara region and Burlington, Ont., yielded 12 new suspected cases of the food-borne bacterial infection.

In Burlington, the Halton region health department said Wednesday they were investigating 52 potential cases of E. coli O157 - up from 43 on Tuesday.

Three of those cases have been confirmed to be E. coli infection originating at Johnathan's Family Restaurant in Burlington, a city of about 160,000 between Toronto and Hamilton.

The outbreak stemming from two restaurants in the Niagara region of southern Ontario appears to be tapering off, as the number of new cases reported Wednesday rose by just three, to a total of 50.

Of those 50, 21 have been linked to the Little Red Rooster restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The eatery reopened Wednesday after Niagara region public health officials deemed the kitchen safe. Twenty-four cases have also been linked to the M.T. Bellies restaurant in nearby Welland. The kitchen at the bar and grill remains closed as inspectors continue their investigation into a source of the outbreak.

The remaining five cases have not been attributed to any locale.

Potential links between the two outbreaks are being investigated by the provincial Health Ministry, as the molecular fingerprint is quite rare, said Dr. Robin Williams, the Niagara unit's medical officer of health.

Williams said Tuesday that early analysis of the victims' menu choices could suggest the source was tainted produce. Contaminated lettuce grown in California sickened more than 40 people in the U.S. in September and October, including people in Michigan and New York.

In 2006, an outbreak originating from tainted spinach killed three and made more than 200 people ill across the U.S.

Meanwhile, a separate outbreak, which has kept a Harvey's in North Bay, Ont., closed since Oct. 12, "is in its final stages, with no new lab confirmed cases," a statement from the North Bay Parry Sound district health unit said Wednesday.

That outbreak, which was not linked to the ones in southern Ontario, led to 249 suspected cases of E. coli infection, 49 of which have been confirmed.

E. coli O157 infection can cause bloody diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and fever. In severe cases, it 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.



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