122 Albertans diagnosed with E. coli as AHS looks for cause
E. coli can be prevented by cooking meat well, washing hands and vegetables thoroughly
Alberta Health Services says there is an outbreak of E. coli after 122 people across the province were diagnosed with the bacteria in the last month.
Dr. Chris Sikora, the Edmonton Zone's medical officer of health, said 59 of the reported cases are in Calgary while 48 are in Edmonton.
AHS says the bacteria found in these cases is E. coli 0157:H7, which can cause cramping, bloody diarrhea and kidney failure.
Sikora said this particular strain seems to be isolated to Alberta, suggesting it is possibly caused by a locally produced and distributed food item.
Seventeen people have been hospitalized so far, Sikora said.
AHS has not yet been able to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak, but Sikora says that is not unusual in cases of E. coli, which can incubate for up to two weeks before the carrier shows symptoms.
However, he did note that nearly 80 per cent of reported cases were associated with Asian-style restaurants in Edmonton and Calgary during the last two weeks of July.
Despite the increase in cases, Sikora said Albertans are not overly at risk, as long as they follow healthy food preparation techniques.
To avoid the bacteria, AHS advises washing fruits and vegetables before eating, cooking beef thoroughly and washing hands with soapy water after handling meat.
In 2013, 96 cases were reported in the province. Of those, 20 were in the Edmonton Zone.
Earlier this month some people were admitted to hospital in Edmonton with E. coli that was linked to reports of contaminated bean sprouts.