Health & Wellness


Up to 93 possible E. coli cases in Ontario linked to Harvey's as outbreak spreads

As many as 93 people in Ontario could be afflicted with a potentially deadly strain of E. coli linked to a popular fast-food restaurant, health authorities reported Thursday.

Laboratory tests have confirmed 15 cases of poisoning due to E coli O157:H7, with 78 others under investigation, stemming from a Harvey's restaurant in North Bay, Ont.

Dr. Catherine Whiting, the area's medical officer of health, said in an interview the outbreak has spread beyond North Bay, with one confirmed case in Sudbury, Ont.

Four other cases - including one in eastern Ontario - may also be linked to the outbreak, she said.

Victims range in age from five to 84 years old, with nine reported to be in hospital and the rest recovering at home.

UN assisting Afghan authorities to respond to diarrhoea outbreak

Map - Afganistan
© Unknown
United Nations agencies are helping authorities to respond to a diarrhoea outbreak in Afghanistan, where only about a quarter of the population has access to safe drinking water and 20 per cent of child deaths is attributed to the easily preventable disease.

According to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, the outbreak is located mainly in five provinces - Nangarhar, Nuristan, Laghman, Samangan and Faryab - with a few cases also reported in seven others. Twenty-two people have died out of the almost 4,000 cases reported so far.

37 human anthrax cases in northern Iraq outbreak

Thirty-seven people have been infected by anthrax in northern Iraq in the country's first outbreak of the disease since the 1980s, the health minister in the Kurdish autonomous region said on Sunday.

Health Minister Ziryan Othman said the disease appeared to have been passed on from livestock. The first human case of the outbreak was discovered in remote Dahuk province last month.

None of the reported cases had yet proven fatal, he told Reuters. The 37 cases in humans have all affected the patients' skin, rather than their lungs or internal organs, as occurs in more serious anthrax cases.

Othman said the authorities have ordered that infected animals be slaughtered and buried, while animals not yet infected should be vaccinated.

India: Gastro outbreak claims 10 in a week

At least 10 people, including five children, have died of diarrhoea at Kulti near Asansol over the past week. Over 2,500 have been afflicted with the disease.

Nearly 300 patients have been admitted to the Asansol Subdivisional Hospital and the two hospitals of Eastern Coalfields Ltd and nursing homes in Asansol and Kulti, about 260km from Calcutta.

A large section of patients is being treated at home with the help of three medical camps set up by the Burdwan health authorities.

"There have been 10 diarrhoea deaths in the past one week and over 2,500 cases have been reported. We suspect contaminated drinking water is the reason behind the outbreak," said Abu Ershad, the district's chief medical officer.

Of the 2,500, over 1,000 are children.

Listeriosis bacteria found at Toronto plant

Maple Leaf Foods worker
© The Canadian Press
A Maple Leaf Foods worker clad in protective clothing refills cleaner bottles while spraying down equipment on one of the suspect food processing lines at the facility in Toronto.
Ottawa - Four new positive tests for listeriosis have been confirmed in samples of meat at the Maple Leaf plant at the centre of the outbreak that has left 20 Canadians dead.

The plant was allowed to reopen on Sept. 17, but no product has so far been allowed to enter the market.

Late Wednesday, federal officials from the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council Office and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency met to discuss the new findings that the bacteria is still present in the plant.

Since the plant resumed production, there have been 2,700 product samples and four positive test results for Listeria monocytogenes.

Deadly strep outbreak in northern Ontario largely impacting homeless, drug users

A deadly outbreak of streptococcal infections that's killed 10 people in northern Ontario is likely to spread but doesn't pose a widespread threat because it appears to be clustered around distinct groups of people, the province's chief medical officer of health said Thursday.

"It doesn't seem to be showing and spreading throughout the community there but spreading within a very specific subgroup of the community," Dr. David Williams said a day after Thunder Bay's public health unit announced the deaths.

"It seems to be a very limited part of the community... Some related with homeless, some with an intravenous drug user group, some related with some urban populations we're trying to follow-up on.

The Pharmaceutical Get Out of Jail, Free Card

Monday commenced the new Supreme Court term and one of the primary issues on the table concerns the "Final Rule" established by the Food and Drug Administration that provides lawsuit immunity for pharmaceutical companies whose drugs have inflicted harm on consumers. In a case currently before it, the Supreme Court is evaluating a lawsuit against drug-maker Wyeth regarding a drug called Phenergan. A musician from Vermont filed suit after getting gangrene in her arm following the injection of this nausea drug to treat a severe migraine attack. Consequently, she had to get her arm amputated and is seeking resolve for allegations of inadequate warnings and labeling from Wyeth about the risks involved with this particular type of injection.

England: Mutant rats plague Hampshire

© Unknown
Mutant super-rats immune to normal poisoning techniques are swarming Hampshire, according to one of Britain's leading rodent experts.

The revelation comes as a survey of councils reveals the number of rats infesting Hampshire has skyrocketed in recent years.

The pesky rodents are also proving a costly menace, with spending soaring by more than £40,000 in one borough.

DNA tests on rats collected across the county confirmed the presence of a mutant gene that helps rodents develop the resistance.

US: Bubonic plague found in Four Corners area

A northeast Arizona man has contracted bubonic plague and health agencies are urging Four Corners residents to help prevent the spread of the disease.

The Navajo Nation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday warned of a new possible outbreak of plague. The Apache County, Ariz., man who contracted the disease began showing symptoms in late September, the Navajo Nation said, including a 103-degree fever, chills, diarrhea and groin tenderness. He has responded well to treatment, the nation said.

US: Weld County prairie dogs test positive for plague

Colorado - Prairie dogs found dead south of Briggsdale have tested positive for plague, the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed.

The highly infectious bacterial disease is transmitted primarily by flea bites. Although human cases are rare, the illness can be life-threatening.

This year, 22 positive tests for plague have been confirmed in animals in the state.