August 19, 2014 5:38 pm

Alberta health officials trying to pinpoint cause of E. coli outbreak

CALGARY- A spike of E. coli cases in Alberta has health officials trying to pinpoint the cause.

There have been over 120 cases reported over the last few weeks across the province. 59 of those were in Calgary.

Andrea Rohachuk says she fell victim to the illness after eating out at a southeast Calgary restaurant.

“It came on pretty quick,” she remembers. “I was in the hospital for about 10 hours before they sent me home, but definitely it was the sickest I’ve ever been in my whole life.

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“I’ve maybe had a little bit of food poisoning, it kind of just goes through you, but [E. coli] was a thousand times worse than that.”

So far, a single cause behind the outbreak hasn’t been identified.

“It is too early. We’re in the middle of the investigation, and we hope we’ll be able to identify a common source if possible,” says Dr. Richard Musto, AHS Medical Officer of Health for the Calgary Zone. “We’ve got this increased number, so we’re trying to see are there any patterns, anything that would link one case to another.”

He adds that E. coli is usually transmitted through meat, and there is often an increase in cases during the summer when people barbeque.

“You’ve got to make sure your hands are clean when you’re handling the meat, washing your hands before you prepare the food,” Musto recommends.

E. coli can cause severe diarrhea and abdominal pain.

 

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