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1 death ‘likely’ linked to E. coli outbreak in Edmonton

Click to play video: '1 death ‘likely’ linked to Edmonton E. coli outbreak' 1 death ‘likely’ linked to Edmonton E. coli outbreak
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta Health Services suspects the E. coli outbreak in Edmonton has claimed the life of one person. The investigation into the source of the investigation has ramped up. Albert Delitala has the details. – Apr 20, 2018

Alberta Health Services has expanded its investigation into the source of an E. coli outbreak in Edmonton after one person died “likely due to E.coli infection.”

There have been 34 lab-confirmed cases of E. coli linked to the outbreak, AHS said in a media release Friday afternoon. AHS said while the cases have been primarily linked within the Edmonton area, some have popped up outside of the AHS Edmonton Zone.

The source of the outbreak is not known.

“We’ve really scaled up the avenues that we’re exploring to try and figure out what’s going on,” said Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, medical officer of health for AHS in the Edmonton Zone.

“At this time we do not have an identified, confirmed source but we have various leads and pathways of investigation.”

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The 34 confirmed cases include 11 people who have needed hospital care and one patient who died “likely due to E. coli infection.”

“I will emphasize that it is likely at this point,” Hasselback said.

“We know this person had the bacteria and we also know that they did pass, unfortunately, but there are a lot of other questions that need to be evaluated before we make a definitive link.”

Twenty-one of the cases are directly linked to Mama Nita’s Binalot restaurant in Edmonton, AHS said. However, the agency said Friday it no longer has public health concerns related to the restaurant, which serves Filipino cuisine.

READ MORE: Health officials investigate Edmonton restaurant after E. coli outbreak

AHS first said it was investigating an outbreak at the restaurant on March 29.

AHS said Friday it is investigating 13 lab-confirmed cases of E. coli that have “no known links” to Mama Nita’s Binalot. AHS does not know the source of these cases, but believes they are linked to the initial outbreak.

Hasselback said the death was not linked to Mama Nita’s Binalot.

“This outbreak is extremely complex,” added Dr. Chris Sikora, medical officer of health for AHS in the Edmonton Zone.

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“AHS, in partnership with other provincial and federal agencies, is doing all we can to protect the health of Albertans. The risk of illness remains very low.”

READ MORE: Number of E. coli cases linked to Edmonton restaurant rises to 19

The owners of Mama Nita’s Binalot worked closely with AHS and have taken significant steps to manage the outbreak, AHS said. The restaurant voluntarily closed until AHS was confident it could reopen without risk to the public. Hasselback said the restaurant asked for permission to reopen on Thursday.

While Hasselback said there isn’t any reason for the public to “drastically panic,” she said the situation is evolving hour by hour.

“There is an urgency,” she said. “Because this bug is a problem, people do get quite sick and we know there are ways we can figure out where the source is and control it. People are working very hard to find that source.

“Nothing that we’re doing right now is talking about fault. What we do is we try and trace potential sources and control them,” she continued. “That’s the ultimate goal here: protecting the public, controlling the source and removing risk.”

The main symptom of E. coli is diarrhea, which could be bloody. Uremic syndrome — a form of kidney failure — can develop in more severe forms of the disease.

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Symptoms usually develop one to 10 days after eating food contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

To help prevent E. coli contamination, people are urged to cook beef and pork to at least 71 C, wash their hands and avoid cross contaminating cooking surfaces.

People who develop symptoms or are concerned about the outbreak are encouraged to call Health Link at 811.

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