Canadian outbreak of O157:H7 due to contaminated leafy greens

A new outbreak of the strain of E. coli O157:H7 has just occurred in Canada. There have been just 12 cases, but all of the bacteria in those cases have exhibited the same genetic fingerprint, indicating an a common source epidemic (one that arises from a contaminated food source). Epidemiologists investigating the outbreak have not identified one food, but leafy greens.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is warning people to wash all food, keep refrigerated properly and use aseptic technique! From the article:

The following tips will help you reduce your risk of infection with E. coli or other food-borne illnesses:

  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, clean counters and cutting boards and wash your hands regularly.
  • Bacteria can grow in the danger zone between 4 °C and 60 °C (40 °F to 140 °F). Keep cold foods cold at or below 4 °C (40 °F) and keep hot foods hot at or above 60 °C (140 °F).
  • Keep refrigerators clean and at a temperature below 4 °C (40 °F). Install a thermometer in your fridge to be sure.
  • Place raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Use containers that are large enough to prevent raw juices from dripping onto other food or touching other food.
  • Keep raw food away from other food while shopping, storing, preparing and serving foods.
  • Read labels and follow cooking and storage instructions for all food. When buying food, make sure to check the “best before” date, and if the product has expired, let the store know.
  • Use warm soapy water to clean knives, cutting boards, utensils, your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially meat and fish.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of cooking.
  • Freeze or consume leftovers within four days of cooking. Always reheat leftovers until steaming hot before eating.
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