Meatloaf likely source of Calgary daycare E. coli outbreak
In recent weeks, the province of Alberta in Canada has been hit by an E. coli outbreak. The outbreak has been linked to a central kitchen, Fueling Minds, which supplied food to several daycare centres across the region. As a result, there have been 351 confirmed cases, with an additional 37 secondary cases. The outbreak has led to significant hospitalizations, with four children still in the hospital. Some of these children have developed a disease impacting their kidneys.
Investigations and Findings
Authorities are still puzzled about the exact source of the outbreak. As of the last report, a total of 128 lab-confirmed E. coli cases were linked to the outbreak. This number represented a significant increase from the 56 reported cases two days earlier and the 96 reported cases a day before. With the week progressing, the number of children hospitalized has also increased, with 25 in the hospital as of the last report. The majority of these children are at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, while a few are at the pediatric ward of the Peter Lougheed Centre.
Health inspectors have been actively investigating the central kitchen linked to all of the daycares, taking food samples for further testing. In total, 11 daycares have been temporarily closed until the issues are resolved. The central kitchen, Fueling Minds, has been found in violation of public health regulations related to food handling in the past.
Response from Authorities and the Catering Company
In response to the outbreak, Alberta’s Premier has initiated a review panel to consider policy changes and food handling requirements. The panel’s job will be to investigate the outbreak and recommend necessary changes to prevent a similar incident in the future. Meanwhile, the catering company has been charged with operating without a proper license. The company has expressed its cooperation with the authorities but has noted that the exact source of the infection hasn’t been confirmed yet.
The E. coli Bacteria and Its Impact
E. coli, short for Escherichia coli, is a type of bacteria found in animal and human feces and survives in most environments. While it is not naturally infectious, certain strains produce toxins that cause illness. Symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea, which can turn bloody if the toxin starts to degrade the intestinal layer. From there, the toxin may enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to problems such as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that affects the kidneys.
Children are more vulnerable to severe outcomes due to their heightened susceptibility to toxins. Thus, it is crucial to ensure regular medical treatment and observation for children infected with toxin-producing E. coli. This involves daily analysis, daily blood tests, and if necessary, IV fluids to ensure they’re hydrated.
Preventing E. coli Infection
Preventing E. coli infection involves maintaining high standards of personal and food hygiene. This includes washing hands thoroughly before handling food, cooking meat thoroughly, washing fruits and vegetables before eating, and avoiding raw milk or dairy products made from raw milk. Daycares and other institutions that serve food to children must also ensure they follow proper food handling procedures to prevent contamination.
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