The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7, commonly called E.coli, with a possible link to leafy greens. A specific product has not been identified yet, and the investigation is ongoing.
There have been 12 cases of E.coli with a matching genetic fingerprint reported in Alberta (9), Saskatchewan (1), Ontario (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). The illness onset dates range from March 13 to March 31, 2015.
Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to leafy greens has emerged as a possible source of illness. Leafy greens can include all varieties of lettuces and other green leaf vegetables such as kale, spinach, arugula, or chard.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s investigation into the food source is ongoing.
People infected with E.coli can have a wide range of symptoms. Some do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others. Others feel as though they have a bad case of upset stomach. Still others become seriously ill and must be hospitalized.
The following symptoms can appear within one to ten days after contact with the bacteria: severe stomach cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, headache and slight fever.
Most symptoms clear up within five to ten days. However, some people who are infected with E.coli develop life-threatening symptoms, including kidney failure, seizures and stroke. While most will recover completely, others may suffer permanent health effects, like kidney damage, and some may die.
There is no real treatment for E.coli infections, other than monitoring the illness, providing comfort, and preventing dehydration through proper hydration and nutrition. People who develop complications may need further treatment, like dialysis for kidney failure. You should contact your health care provider if symptoms persist.