Exact source of Calgary E.coli outbreak not yet identified: Alberta Health Services – Calgary

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Alberta Health Services says it is testing and collecting samples from a central kitchen servicing multiple daycares in the Calgary area, but an exact source for the E.coli outbreak has not yet been identified.

As of Saturday, there are 164 lab-confirmed cases linked to the E.coli outbreak and 27 kids are in hospital. Six patients had been discharged from hospital.

AHS also said 19 patients have been confirmed to have severe illness and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a rare disease that affects the kidneys and blood clotting functions of people. Calgary Zone medical officer of health Dr. Franco Rizzuti said Friday the severe  illness is part of a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection

Rizzuti also said a small number of kids require dialysis and dialysis machines were brought in from other AHS sites in case they are needed in the coming days.

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Experts say this is a “historic outbreak” and an outbreak of this magnitude is “highly unusual.” This is the largest outbreak in children less than five years of age associated with a single point source, they said.

“Based on the epidemiology of the cases we’ve seen to date, it is highly likely the source of this outbreak is food that was distributed from the central kitchen. At this point, AHS has collected food samples for testing and awaiting results. At this time AHS has not been able to identify with certainty the exact food item that was the source. We continue to investigate,” said Matthew McCallum of AHS’ communications team.

This statement comes after a statement of claim for a potential class action was filed in court Friday morning.

Maia Tomljanovic, partner at Cumming & Gillespie Lawyers, said the statement of claim names all of the daycares, central kitchen and other facilities.

The statement of claim says “negligent, unsanitary and unsafe food storage, preparation and handling practices” resulted in the E. coli infections, resulting in a variety of illness, emotional upset, and caused a loss of income and loss of “housekeeping capacity.”

They seek $150,000 per class member among other damages.

None of the claims have been tested in court.

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Diana Batten, Alberta’s critic for childcare as well as children and family services, said in a statement Saturday the investigation into the central kitchen is a “good first step.”

She urged Minister of Children and Family Services Searle Turton to provide more resources to the daycares and families who are impacted by the E.coli outbreak.

“My understanding is an investigation into this outbreak has been launched and that’s a good first step; however, we need to see leadership from the Minister of Health and Minister of Children & Family Services. So far, the government has said nothing about additional resources being provided to these daycares and has offered nothing to reassure families making stressful decisions about whether to send their children back to the impacted sites,” Batten’s statement read.

“We also need the investigation to provide recommendations to prevent such a devastating outbreak in the future and a commitment from the government that they will follow through on this.

“The health and well-being of Albertans, and especially children, must be a priority for the government at all times.”

–With files from Adam Toy, Global News.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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