EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services says 122 people across the province have been diagnosed with potentially dangerous E. coli germs over the past month.
The health agency says the type of bacteria found in these cases is E. coli 0157:h7, which can cause severe illness including cramping, bloody diarrhea and kidney failure.
Officials say since July 15 there have been 59 confirmed cases in Calgary, 48 cases in Edmonton, seven cases in the South, six cases in the North and two cases in the Central zone.
Alberta Health Services says it hasn’t found the source of the E. coli, which is usually found in the intestines of humans and animals, or whether the cases are linked.
Earlier this month some people were admitted to hospital in Edmonton with E. coli that was linked to reports of contaminated bean sprouts.
Health officials say people can prevent the spread of E. coli by cooking beef to at least 160 F, thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables and washing your hands with hot, soapy water after touching raw meat.
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While most strains of E. coli are harmless, the Public Health Agency Of Canada warns that some strains including E. coli O157: H7, can make people sick, and in serious complications can include kidney failure.
Symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and fever that is generally less than 38.5˚C/101˚F and tend to last for five to seven days.
High risk individuals include the very young, elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can be fatal, can develop in around 5 to 10 per cent of those who get sick from E. coli O157:H7 overall and about 15 per cent of young children and the elderly.
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.
Proper hygiene including hand washing and safe food handling and preparation practices are recommended to prevent the illness.
While E. coli is generally associated with ground meat, Alberta Health Services warns that the bacteria can also be found in foods including poultry, pork, cheese, sprouts, lettuce, yogurt, and unpasteurized milk and fruit juices and advises Albertans to take precaution.