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UPDATED: ‘Qualicum Spice’ cheese E. coli outbreak over

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Update January 8, 2019  ̶  The E. coli outbreak linked to cheese appears to be over. In total, seven people in B.C. became ill with E. coli linked to consumption of this cheese. There have been no new cases since early November. 

The investigation at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks is complete and the BCCDC and its investigative partners believe raw milk was the likely source of contamination. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks has committed to heat treating the milk to reduce risk once the production of Qualicum Spice cheese resumes.

November 13, 2018  ̶  ​The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is alerting British Columbians to discard or return to the place of purchase any Little Qualicum Cheeseworks’ Qualicum Spice cheese that they currently have at home. Products in the marketplace have a best before date up to and including April 24, 2019.

Five people in B.C. have been affected by an E. coli outbreak between August and October. Qualicum Spice cheese samples were tested and found to be contaminated with E. coli. The investigation is ongoing to determine the source and extent of contamination. 

Qualicum Spice is an unpasteurized cheese. It is distributed throughout B.C. and sold in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, wineries, restaurants and at the Little Qualicum Cheeseworks farmgate store. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks has voluntarily recalled the affected product. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks produces several other types of dairy products. No other products are being recalled at this time and consumers do not need to discard them.   

People who become ill from E. coli can have a wide range of symptoms. Some may have no symptoms and some may become seriously ill and be hospitalized. The following symptoms can appear within one to ten days after infection:

  • severe stomach cramps
  • diarrhea or bloody diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • little or no fever
If you have eaten this product but have no symptoms, there is no need to do anything. If you become ill after consuming this cheese:
  • Practice good hand washing with warm water and soap to prevent the spread of illness
  • Drink lots of clear fluids to stay hydrated
  • Anyone who has bloody diarrhea or is concerned about their symptoms should see a health care provider or call HealthLinkBC at 811
  • Antibiotics and anti-diarrhea medications should not be used to treat this infection unless prescribed by your health care provider

The BC Centre for Disease Control, a part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides public health leadership through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The Centre provides diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance, and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities. The BCCDC also provides health promotion and prevention services to reduce the burden of chronic disease and preventable injury. For more, visit www.bccdc.ca  or follow us on Twitter @CDCofBC.

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit www.phsa.ca or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.

Media contact:
Heather Amos
BCCDC Communications
604.707.2412
or PHSA media line:
778. 867.7472


E. coli O121; Health alert
 

 

 

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