Processed restaurant food may be source of E. coli outbreak in NS and NB


Health officials think they may be closer to identifying the source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 15 people in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Three more cases of E. coli infection were confirmed in NS over the weekend, bringing the total to 10 since Dec. 23. All patients, who range between 18 and 83 years of age, have either recovered or are recovering, including one person who remained in hospital with acute kidney failure.

The province's chief public health officer said the new cases are no cause for alarm.

"We know that the incubation period of E. coli 0157 is one to 10 days, so it is not uncommon to see additional cases arise as more people who may exhibit symptoms get tested," Dr. Robert Strang said.

Health authorities think another five cases in NB may be linked, and the two provinces have been working together with the Public Health Agency of Canada to track the source or sources of the contamination.

Strang told the Chronicle Herald that some kind of processed food widely distributed, likely through restaurants, is the most likely culprit. The investigation has been able to focus on a few different food products, mainly produce. He said officials hope to have more concrete information in the next few days.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include abdominal pain and severe cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Some people may develop anemia and kidney problems.

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