E. coli outbreak linked to Filipino restaurant in southeast Edmonton

Edmonton health officials have confirmed five cases of a serious strain of E. coli in people who ate food from Mama Nita's Binalot

Five cases of a serious strain of E. coli have been confirmed in people who ate at Mama Nita's Binalot

Five cases of a serious strain of E. coli were linked to food served at Mama Nita's Binalot. (Google Street View)

Edmonton health officials have confirmed five cases of a serious strain of E. coli linked to food served at a restaurant in the city's southeast.

Alberta Health Services warns that anyone who has eaten at Mama Nita's Binalot since March 15 should monitor themselves for symptoms of the infection. The date could change if other cases of E. coli are discovered.

"We know that they're close in time and that they're close in place and that they all ate at this restaurant," said Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, medical officer of health for the AHS Edmonton zone.

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"Beyond that, there's no common particular foods that they had at this restaurant. Otherwise, we don't actually have any other linkages."

Symptoms, the most predominant of which is diarrhea that may be bloody, will usually appear within one to 10 days after eating food contaminated with the E. coli O157:H7 strain bacteria.

Health officials are still trying to figure out the source. Operators of the restaurant, located at 1519 Lakewood Rd., have been co-operative.

Restaurant is still open

The premises were inspected on Tuesday by Environmental Public Health.

While the restaurant and its workers have not yet been confirmed as the source of the infection, it is known that all of the lab-confirmed cases involved people who ate food from Mama Nita's Binalot, Hasselback said.

The restaurant is still open.  AHS is working with the restaurant owners to eliminate further risk of contamination.

"At this time I do not believe that there is sufficient risk that has not been properly mitigated to justify closing the restaurant," Hasselback said.

Health officials want to "really make sure that everyone on staff understands strict hand hygiene, cooking things properly," he added. "If that bug is present in, say beef or pork, which are quite common, cooking it all the way through is going to kill that bug. This bug can be taken care of."

The website for Mama Nita's Binalot says it serves authentic Filipino food that can be ordered for delivery.

E. coli infections are generally caused when a person eats food or drinks water that is contaminated with human or animal feces, or comes into direct contact with a person who is sick.

According to AHS, children, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk of complications from this strain of E. coli. In its more severe forms, hemolytic uremic syndrome — a form of kidney failure — can develop.

The majority of people who get sick should improve on their own within 10 days, but a small number may develop complications.

Individuals who start to develop symptoms are urged to seek medical attention and be sure to mention a possible exposure to E. coli O157:H7.