Epidemiological information: E. coli O157:H7 illness related to cheese produced by Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm

15 November 2013

What is epidemiology?

Epidemiology is the study of disease in a population. Epidemiologists, or “disease detectives,” use surveillance systems to identify those who are sick and confirm that the sick people are part of this event. They then gather information from the people who got sick and review the clues from all parts of the investigation that might reveal the cause of the illness event.

The figure below forms part of the epidemiological investigation into this outbreak. An "epi curve" (Figure 1) is a valuable reference tool in any epidemiological investigation. An epi curve shows when cases begin, when they peak, and when they trail off. Certain details of the people who got sick (Table 1) also help epidemiologists as they work to solve the questions involved in foodborne illness.

For more information on specific cases please contact the appropriate provincial health authority.

Figure 1. Number of people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli

Text equivalent for figure 1

Text Equivalents - Epidemiological information: E. coli O157:H7 illness related to cheese produced by Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm

Table 1. People confirmed to be infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157, by week of illness onset
Date of onset by week Number of cases
Jun 30 0
Jul 7 1
Jul 14 0
Jul 21 1
Jul 28 3
Aug 4 0
Aug 11 1
Aug 18 1
Aug 25 8
Sep 1 5
Sep 8 3
Sep 15 3
Sep 22 1
Sep 29 1

Note: It can take several weeks from the time a person becomes ill to when this illness is reported and testing confirms a link to the outbreak.

Table 1: At a Glance
Outbreak status Ongoing
Case count 28
Provinces/Territories 5
Deaths 1
Hospitalizations 4
Cases with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) 1
Gender (m:f) 11:17
Age range in years 3-82
Recall Yes
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