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2008 North Bay E. coli outbreak settlement approved by judge

An Ontario judge has approved a settlement of a class action suit brought after an estimated 235 people were sickened by E. coli bacteria traced to a North Bay, Ont., restaurant in 2008.
An investigation by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit indicated the outbreak at the Harvey's restaurant was most likely caused by contaminated onions. The outbreak began on Oct. 11, 2008, after North Bay General Hospital reported several people in emergency with bloody diarrhea and cramps and was declared over on Nov. 21, 2008.

An Ontario judge has approved a settlement of a class action suit brought after an estimated 235 people were sickened by E. coli bacteria traced to a North Bay, Ont., restaurant in 2008.

An investigation by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit indicated the outbreak at the Harvey's restaurant was most likely caused by contaminated onions.

The investigation found the risk of exposure lingered for about a week due to inconsistent cleaning of the onion dicer.

In a Sudbury court room, Justice Patricia Hennessy of the Superior Court of Justice approved a settlement earlier this month that would see class members receive between $1,000 and $7,250, depending on how long their symptoms lasted.

Under the settlement, some claimants who had symptoms for more than two days can be assessed to receive out-of-pocket expenses, including lost wages.

The outbreak began on Oct. 11, 2008, after North Bay General Hospital reported several people in emergency with bloody diarrhea and cramps and was declared over on Nov. 21, 2008.

The health unit closed the Harvey's/Swiss Chalet restaurant on the night of Oct. 12, 2008, after initial analysis of food histories and outbreak questionnaire data identified food purchased from the Harvey's as a common factor.

During the outbreak, 360 symptomatic people were reported to public health for investigation and 235 met the outbreak case definitions.

A total of 50 cases were laboratory confirmed for E. coli, three of which were secondary cases.

No deaths were associated with the outbreak, but 26 people were hospitalized, and one case of haemolytic uremic syndrome in a child was reported.

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