Toronto, July 12, 2007 - Toronto Public Health is investigating an outbreak of E.coli 0157 among individuals who attended a picnic in Scarborough's Morningside Park on July 1. Several hundred people attended the event, which was a reunion for the Punqudutivu Students Association of Sri Lanka.
Six cases of E.coli 0157 have been confirmed. Four individuals were hospitalized, and one has developed serious kidney complications.
“Toronto Public Health is asking anyone who attended this picnic on July 1 to watch for symptoms of E. coli,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Medical Officer of Health for Toronto.
“Symptoms include diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.”
E. coli can be contagious, especially among family members and people who live in the same household. “Therefore we are asking anyone who went to the event, as well as members of their household, to watch for these symptoms,” said Dr. Yaffe. Anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better are the chances of a full recovery.
Those most at risk are children under the age of five and the elderly. This type of E. coli can be very serious, and in rare cases, fatal. The majority of people who get E. coli recover in seven to 10 days.
If you think you have E. coli, do not prepare food for others. Children should not attend daycare until their infection is cleared and persons working in health care, daycare, or food handling who are ill should speak with their managers, and call their local health unit immediately.
The exact source of contamination in this outbreak is under investigation. E. coli cases in the summer are often associated with picnics and barbequing.
“This outbreak reinforces the importance of safe food handling practices, especially at picnics and barbeques,” said Dr. Yaffe. Cook ground beef thoroughly until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink. Transport food in chilled containers and ensure all fruits and vegetables are washed before eating. Wash your hands regularly to reduce the potential spread of illness to others.
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