Updated: 22 April 2013
This outbreak appears to be over.
In total, eight cases were reported as part of this outbreak. The last reported case became ill on February 13, 2013.
Collaborative investigation efforts by provincial and federal health authorities and food regulatory partners confirmed that frozen beef burgers were the source of this outbreak. The burgers were recalled from the marketplace.
You should check the list of recalled beef products and, if you have any of the recalled products in your home, throw them out or return them to the place of purchase.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, in collaboration with provincial and territorial partners, will continue to monitor for and investigate any new cases of E. coli O157 that may be related to this outbreak as part of its routine surveillance activities.
Based on all the information collected to date – epidemiological, microbiological and food safety – a total of eight cases of illness were reported as part of this outbreak; four in Ontario, two in Alberta and one each in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. More information about the epidemiological investigation is also available.
Since 2006, reports of E. coli illness in people have shown a general downward trend in Canada from 978 cases in 2006 to 482 in 2011.
Most strains of E. coli are harmless; however, some strains, such as E. coli O157:H7, can make people sick, causing severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Serious complications of an E. coli O157:H7 infection can include kidney failure.
If you think you are sick with an E. coli O157:H7 infection, consult a healthcare professional.
Like other food-borne illnesses, the symptoms of E. coli infection mainly involve the gut. Symptoms may vary from person to person; however, they often include:
Symptoms usually last five to seven days.
Overall, around 5 to 10 per cent of those who get sick from E. coli O157:H7 develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), an acute renal failure which can be fatal. Of those, children younger than 5 years old and the elderly are at greatest risk of developing HUS. Symptoms of HUS vary. Some people have seizures or strokes and some need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Others live with side effects such as permanent kidney damage.
Infections can occur among people of all ages, however symptoms are likely to be more severe among the very young and the elderly. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are also at high risk of developing serious complications.
Proper hygiene and safe food handling and preparation practices are key to preventing the spread of all food-borne illnesses, including E. coli.
Hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness.Contaminated foods may look and smell normal. It is important to ensure that you thoroughly cook foods to destroy bacteria. Recalled products, however, should not be consumed and should be thrown away.
Everyone should practice these general food safety precautions at all times: