Cluster of E. coli cases linked to bean sprouts

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In the past two weeks, 24 cases of E. coli have been reported in the Edmonton zone, say Alberta Health Services officials.

Of the 24 cases, 21 have been connected to a contaminated batch of bean sprouts from a local supplier.

Five people have been hospitalized.

Officials say there is no longer a risk to the public as they believe the contamination was limited to one batch. The health authority is still investigating.

E. coli is a germ, or bacterium, that lives in the digestive tracts of humans and animals. Most types of E. coli are harmless, but some strains can cause illness, (predominantly abdominal cramping and diarrhea that may be bloody) or in severe cases, anemia or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

E. coli infections happen when someone comes into contact with the feces, or stool, of humans or animals. This can happen when you drink water or eat food that has been contaminated by feces.

AHS advises there are ways to prevent E. coli contamination, especially over the long weekend, including:

Cook beef to at least 71 °C (160 °F).

Thoroughly wash vegetables and fruits before eating.

In the kitchen, wash your hands with hot, soapy water often, especially after you touch raw meat.

Wash any tools or kitchen surfaces that have touched raw meat.

Use only pasteurized milk, dairy, and juice products.

Use only treated, or chlorinated, drinking water.

When you travel to countries that may have unsafe drinking water, don’t use ice or drink tap water. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables, except those with skin that you peel yourself.

Wash your hands often, and always wash them after you use the bathroom or change diapers.

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