October 18, 2008

Canadian E. Coli Victims Rise to 131

Public health officials in North Bay, Ontario, say the number of people sickened by E. coli bacteria at a fast food restaurant has risen to 131.

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Whiting told the Toronto Star she expected the number to increase further in coming days because the bacteria's incubation period that can last as long as 10 days.

She said three of the victims were being treated in hospitals after the outbreak last weekend at a Harvey's restaurant. The victims range in age from 1 to 84 years old.

Whiting said preliminary suspicions on the source of the outbreak centers on hamburgers, but that hadn't been conclusively proved. The restaurant was closed Sunday night.

Most victims went to hospitals with symptoms of diarrhea, including bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting, the Star said.

Whiting said she believes the number of victims are high for a fairly small community because the restaurant has a prime location at the intersection of two highways.