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Vancouver Island resident recovers from E. coli

An unidentified Vancouver Island resident has B.C.'s first confirmed case of E. coli O157:H7, the same strain of E. coli observed in the XL Food Inc. food safety investigation.

The BC Centre for Disease Control received confirmation of the lab test Monday.

It has been working in partnership with the Ministry of Health, regional health authorities, Public Health Agency of Canada, other provincial and territorial colleagues, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to investigate linkages of E. coli O157:H7 with XL food products.

The person who tested positive has recovered from the illness. An investigation into the source is ongoing.

The BC Centre for Disease Control and regional health authorities routinely monitor for and investigate cases of E. coli O157:H7. There are between 110 to 180 cases of shigatoxin-producing E. coli reported each year to the BCCDC. There has been no increase in the number of cases of E. coli O157:H7 reported in BC in the past few months.

Products contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 can pose a serious public health risk. Consumers are reminded not to eat recalled products and to take precautions to prevent food-borne illness, for example:

• Be sure to cook raw beef thoroughly to a final cooking temperature of at least 71C.

• Wash your hands before and after cooking.

• Keep knives, counters and cutting boards clean.

• Keep raw meats separate from other foods when you store them.

• Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly.

Consumers are encouraged to check their fridge and/or freezer to see if they have the recalled beef products in their home (see link below to health hazard alert). If you have any recalled products, discard them or return them to the place of purchase.

If you have already prepared and stored this meat, do not consume it. The safest course of action is to throw it away.

E. coli infection may cause mild to severe symptoms including diarrhea and stomach cramps. In severe cases, diarrhea may become bloody.

Symptoms start an average of three to four days after exposure to the bacteria, and usually last between five to 10 days. Rarely, it can lead to kidney failure and death.

If you think you have an infection caused by E. coli, see your family doctor for testing, advice and treatment.

— BC Centre for Disease Control

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