Public Health Agency of Canada warns E. Coli Outbreak

The Public Health Agency of Canada reported 24 cases of E. coli outbreak in 4 provinces; Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

  • Those individuals became sick between July 12 and Aug. 8.
  • Most of the cases occurred in Quebec.
  • Five of the patients were hospitalized, but the agency says all are recovering.
  • Public Health Agency of Canada says in reminding people about handling food safely.

Monday, Public Health Agency of Canada said, “At this time, the risk to Canadians is low. However, Canadians are reminded to follow safe food-handling practices to avoid illness.” Source or product causing the outbreak has not yet identified. The majority of cases, 63 per cent, were male, with an average age of 24.

The 24 cases with the same genetic fingerprint were reported in: Alberta-1, Ontario - 7, Quebec -14 and Nova Scotia-2. The agency reports an average of 440 E. coli infections across the country per year.

Escherichia coli ( also known as E. coli) is a Gram-negative, facultatively anaerobic, rod-shaped bacterium of the genus Escherichia that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms (endotherms). Most E. coli strainsare harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning in their hosts, and are occasionally responsible for product recalls due to food contamination. The harmless strains are part of the normal flora of the gut, and can benefit their hosts by producing vitamin K2, and preventing colonization of the intestine with pathogenic bacteria.

E. coli and other facultative anaerobes constitute about 0.1% of gut flora, and fecal–oral transmission is the major route through which pathogenic strains of the bacterium cause disease. Cells are able to survive outside the body for a limited amount of time, which makes them potential indicator organisms to test environmental samples for fecal contamination. A growing body of research, though, has examined environmentally persistent E. coli which can survive for extended periods outside of a host.

The bacterium can be grown and cultured easily and inexpensively in a laboratory setting, and has been intensively investigated for over 60 years. E. coli is the most widely studied prokaryotic model organism, and an important species in the fields of biotechnology and microbiology, where it has served as the host organism for the majority of work with recombinant DNA. Under favorable conditions, it takes only 20 minutes to reproduce.IMAGE/Getty Images

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