Friday, September 3, 2010

E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak In Greater Toronto Area

Five illnesses linked to halal meat from North York store

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (OMH) is working with public health agencies in the Greater Toronto Area to investigate a cluster of five confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses, according to Andrew Morrison, OMH Media Relations Coordinator. At least some of the victims reported having consumed various cuts of halal meat purchased at the Kabul Farms retail store located at 40 Beverley Hills Drive in North York.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a Health Hazard Alert on September 1, 2010, warning the public not to consume meats purchased at the Kabul Farms store.

Mr. Morrison provided the following statement to eFoodAlert by email today:
"In addition to the information contained in the CFIA's health hazard alert issued on September 1, 2010, warning consumers about cuts of beef sold on August 6, 2010, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care would like to inform the public that there may be a health risk associated with consumption of meat products purchased from the operation referred in the CFIA health hazard alert between July 8 and August 6, 2010. If anyone has purchased the cuts of beef from the retail outlet identified by the CFIA within this time period, the Ministry advises to exercise caution and dispose of these cuts to avoid illness.

The Ministry is working with Toronto Public Health, York Region Community and Health Services Department Unit, Halton Region Health Department and the Regional Municipality of Peel Health Department to investigate a small cluster of 5 cases of E. coli O157:H7, some of whom have reported consuming different cuts of halal meat purchased at the retail operation specified in the CFIA's health hazard alert of September 1, 2010. At this time, the Ministry is investigating to determine if other retail locations may be affected.

On August 27, 2010, the Ministry was notified by the Ontario Public Health Laboratory (OPHL) of positive food samples for E. coli O157:H7 taken during an investigation in York Region.

On the same day, the Ministry was also notified by the OPHL of four other human cases with the same genetic fingerprint as the York Region case. The onset dates of E. coli infection in all five cases range from July 15, 2010 to August 10, 2010.

No additional cases beyond this initial cluster have been identified.

We remind people that safe food handling practices and preparation are the best way to prevent infection from E. coli."

Anyone in the Greater Toronto Area who has consumed halal meat and experienced symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 gastroenteritis – especially bloody diarrhea – should consult a doctor immediately.

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