Olympics: E-coli outbreak in Toronto could spread to children

Bears have been banned from settling into basements in Windsor for the duration of the Olympics

A health problem that usually strikes adults is spreading in Toronto – and doctors there say they are expecting a vaccine against it to be given to young children.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety issued a warning about e-coli in December.

It said people who had been in contact with horse stables in High Park or an equestrian centre outside Toronto were at risk.

Meanwhile, an outbreak of the infection in the US has so far infected 167 people, with 68 hospitalised.

Higher levels of the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), were found in human intestinal tracts, with some patients reporting having had stool samples tested for S. aureus in the United States.

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The most common symptoms of the infection are fever, muscle aches, vomiting and diarrhoea. People most at risk are those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, diabetes type 1 and 2, kidney disease, asthma, or pre-existing colon or abdominal conditions.

The chief epidemiologist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr Jasun Muha, told BBC News the outbreak was not limited to the virus.

“The horse owners came in contact with some people in the area and there were a number of cases where the patient actually had an underlying colon and abdominal condition, so it’s a bit of both,” he said.

“People who are at very high risk should be vaccinated,” Dr Muha said.

“Parents shouldn’t be afraid to send their kids to school or to recitals or their children’s sporting events,” he said.

Preliminary tests of Canadian samples showed multiple species of S. aureus, but the strain “to date was a broadly similar S. aureus strain to the LA E coli strain that had caused the Oregon outbreak”.

A total of nine Canadian patients are believed to have contracted S. aureus in association with the equestrian centre in Ontario and 27 in association with Windsor.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed at least 39 patients had contracted the S. aureus strain at least 30 miles from the centre.

E-coli causes food poisoning when it can enter through the intestines, stomach or small bowel.

Read more: What’s the difference between food poisoning and diarrhoea?

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