E. coli alert issued re: Gort’s cheese

Salmon Arm, B.C. product, believed to be distributed throughout the province,

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An outbreak of illness caused by E. coli O157:H7 is prompting the BC Centre for Disease Control and Interior Health to issue a public alert to avoid consuming cheese products from Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm of Salmon Arm.

A check of Safeway showed none on the shelves and telephone calls to Kootenay Market, No Frills and Ferraro Foods (Trail) revealed the product is not sold in these local stores. Anyone with Gort’s cheese products at home or at retail should immediately dispose of it. It is believed to be distributed throughout the province.

The farm operator has also agreed to halt any further shipments of cheese products and to stop selling cheese to the public at the farm.

Currently, it has been confirmed that four people in BC have become ill after consuming the cheese. Another four cases in the province are under investigation.

If you have eaten this cheese and feel well, there is no need to do anything further. If you ate this cheese within 10 days and have severe diarrhea or feel very sick, see your health care provider.

The illnesses began in July with the majority of infected people displaying symptoms in late August to early September.

Public health and food safety staff from BCCDC and Interior Health are working with counterparts from the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Health Canada to investigate this outbreak and prevent further health risks to the public.

E. coli (Escherichia coli)

– A germ, or bacterium, that infects the digestive tract of animals.

– There are many types of E. coli, and most of them are harmless. But some can cause severe illness, even death.

– E. coli O157:H7 can cause stomach cramps and mild to severe diarrhea that can be bloody.

Symptoms start two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria, and usually last between five to 10 days.

For more information on E. coli and its health risks, visit the BCCDC web site: www.bccdc.ca/dis-cond/a-z/_e/EColi/overview/default.htm