Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Suspected Ontario E. coli case linked to Germany
An Ontario man who consumed local produce on a trip to Germany earlier this spring has Canada's first suspected case of E. coli linked to the deadly outbreak in Europe.
Initial testing has confirmed the presence of the toxin compatible with the E. coli outbreak overseas, but it will take a few more days for further lab tests to confirm the case of the super strain, Ontario's chief medical officer of health said Monday.
"This is an adult male who recently returned from Germany and who was clearly exposed to this infection while there," Dr. Arlene King said in an interview. "He's doing well, and the followup is continuing with him."
The man, who is from Peel Region west of Toronto, has been released from hospital, King said. She did not provide his age or any other details about him, citing privacy concerns.
King said the risk to the public is low and stressed that people should practise good hygiene, particularly after using the bathroom, handling animals and before preparing food or eating.
The European outbreak was initially attributed to Spanish cucumbers but officials later ruled them out. Suspicion was then cast on sprouts from Germany, but authorities backtracked again
Monday, though they stopped short of giving sprouts a clean bill of health.
The strain that is responsible for the German outbreak has never been detected before by researchers and has various characteristics that make it more virulent and toxin-producing.
The bug has killed 22 people and sickened some 2,330 others in Europe. More than 630 of the victims are hospitalized with a rare, serious complication that can lead to kidney failure, but there's no evidence the Canadian man suffered kidney damage, said King.
A Public Health Agency of Canada spokesperson said no other E. coli cases have been reported elsewhere in the country. The U.S. has reported four suspected case linked to the European outbreak.
King expected more cases could surface in Canada.