An E. coli outbreak that has made more than 20 people sick in Edmonton has health officials urging the public to exercise extra caution when preparing food.

Alberta Health Services has not yet confirmed, but suspects, that bacteria on bean sprouts has made more than 20 people sick. The majority of the cases have been in the past week.

"We've actually measured 24 new cases that have either lived in or had exposure to restaurants or other facilities in the Edmonton zone," said Dr. Chris Sikora, Edmonton Zone's medical officer of health.

E. coli is a germ that lives in the digestive tract of humans and animals. If untreated it can lead to severe anemia or kidney failure and can be fatal. 

"[It's] most common that people would be hospitalized with this type of disease for diarrhea, sometimes vomiting, but the hallmark for this type of disease is diarrhea that has blood in it," Sikora said. 

Alberta Health Services said there is no reason to worry about buying prepackaged bean sprouts because of the recent E. coli incidents, but added that everyone should wash their fruits and vegetables thoroughly to be on the safe side.

Even though it can affect vegetables, E. coli is typically associated with undercooked hamburger meat. 

Corrie Meyer, owner and Head butcher at ACME meat market, said he reminds his customers about food safety often. 

"The biggest thing is definitely washing your hands, especially if you are handling chicken and raw meat," Meyer said. "Definitely wash your hands after you are done. And use a thermometer when you are grilling and cooking in general. You know its done at 71 degrees and if it's chicken, it's 85 degrees."

Alberta Health Services is still investigating but said there should be no further risk to the public.