E. coli FAQ

Q: I understand there is an E. coli outbreak on campus. When did this happen?
A: We were informed Thursday, Nov. 6 that there had been four confirmed cases and that Public Health was tracking and monitoring the situation. They are looking at a contamination period of Oct. 21 through to today.

Q: What is the source of the outbreak?
A: Public Health will be looking into all possible sources of contamination. At this point in time, they have not identified a specific source and/or location. To date, the only commonality is that all four confirmed cases ate at the Pita Pit in the University Centre. As a precaution, the University has voluntarily closed the Pita Pit in the University Centre until Public Health completes its investigation.

Q: How many people are sick?
A: We have been told by Public Health that there are four confirmed cases. All are students. We are deeply concerned about the people who have become ill and are taking this situation very seriously.

Q: Do they all live in the same residence or did they eat at the same cafeteria?
A: Public Health has yet to determine a source. To date, the only commonality among the four students is that they ate at the Pita Pit in the University Centre. Not all confirmed cases are students living in residence.

Q: Has the strain been identified yet?
A: The strain has been identified as E. coli 0157.

Q: Is it safe to eat on campus?
A: Public Health has indicated that currently there is no need to close campus food service operations or change any food products being offered. The University has closed the Pita Pit in the University Centre on a voluntary basis. Under the guidance of Public Health, the University will be taking the proper steps to ensure the safety of our food service operations.

Q: What should I do if I feel sick?
A: Students living in residence or without a family doctor who are feeling sick should go the Student Health Services in the J.T. Powell Building next to the Athletics Centre. Student Health Services is extending its hours and will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8 and from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 9. Those students who are too ill to go to Student Health Services should go to the hospital. Employees who are feeling sick should call Occupational Health and Wellness at Ext. 52647. Staff will be monitoring telephone messages over the weekend.

Q: How long does it take for people to show symptoms of E. coli?
A: Symptoms can develop anywhere from 12 hours or as long as three to ten days after infection.

Q: If I am sick and living in residence how can I get food?
A: Students in residences who are sick should contact their Resident Assistant.

Q: What is the University doing about the outbreak?
A: We are in regular contact with Public Health and will be following its lead and direction. Our course of action will be determined by the recommendations that come from Public Health. In the meantime, we will continue to follow our routine and very stringent sanitization procedures. We will also be reminding all faculty, staff and students of the importance of proper hand washing and food safety practices. As a precaution, the University has voluntarily closed the Pita Pit in the University Centre until Public Health completes its investigation.

Q: Will the University be closing more of its food services?
A: The University is in daily contact with Public Health and will follow recommendations as they attempt to determine the source of the outbreak.

Q: E. coli outbreaks are occurring in several parts of the province. Is there a connection?
A: Public Health has advised us that they are working closely with the Ministry of Health to determine if there is any commonality.

Q: Where can I find more information on E. coli?
A: For more information, you can visit the University's Food Safety Network website at www.foodsafetynetwork.ca or call the toll free phone line 1-866-503-7638. You can also visit the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health website.

Q. What should I do if I have been sick and as a result have missed classes?

A. A student who for any reason does not attend classes regularly, runs the risk of being unable to complete the work of the semester and is advised to report to the program counsellor for academic counselling upon returning to classes. The program counsellor can also provide direction with regard to late assignments.