Health warning over E. coli after one person dies and three others fall ill

VANCOUVER – One person has died and three others have fallen ill after consuming cheese produced at a farm in Salmon Arm, B.C., that the BC Centre for Disease Control said is connected to an E. coli outbreak.

Medical health officer Dr. Rob Parker said that the person who died last month was a patient in the Interior Health Authority who was admitted to the hospital after showing symptoms of an E. coli infection.

The unidentified person had eaten cheese from Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm, Parker said, and the particular strain of E. coli found that person’s test results matched the same strain that infected three other people.

“The thing we’re still investigating is how much that illness, that infection, contributed to the cause of death,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the company have issued a recall of several varieties of raw milk cheese produced at the farm.

“This recall is the result of an ongoing food safety investigation initiated as a result of a recent outbreak investigation,” the CFIA said late Tuesday.

“There may be recalls of additional products as the investigation at this facility continues.”

The affected products were sold at the manufacturer’s outlet, at retail stores in Alberta and British Columbia and through the Internet from May 27 to Sept. 14, 2013, the CFIA said.

The BC Centre for Disease Control said another four cases are now being investigated for the same illness, and anyone who bought products from Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm should get rid of the cheese immediately.

The illnesses began in July, and a majority of the people infected started showing symptoms in late August and early September.

The centre said the farm has agreed to stop shipping cheese products to the rest of the province, and to stop selling cheese to the public.

E. coli is a bacteria that can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and even death.

Anyone who ate the farm’s cheese and is feeling very sick is being advised to see a doctor. (CKFR, The Canadian Press)

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