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B.C. issues warning about cheese after fatal E. coli case

Gouda cheese.

Philip Cheung/The Globe and Mail

One person has died and three others have fallen ill after consuming cheese produced at a farm in Salmon Arm, B.C., that the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said is connected to an E. coli outbreak.

Medical health officer Rob Parker said the person who died last month was a patient in the Interior Health Authority who was admitted to the hospital after showing symptoms of an E. coli infection. The unidentified person had eaten cheese from Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm, Dr. Parker said, and the particular strain of E. coli found that that person's test results matched the same strain that infected three other people.

"The thing we're still investigating is how much that illness – that infection – contributed to the cause of death," he told reporters on Tuesday.

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The B.C. Centre for Disease Control said another four cases are now being investigated for the same illness, and anyone who bought products from Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm should get rid of the cheese immediately.

The illnesses began in July, and a majority of the people infected started showing symptoms in late August and early September.

The centre said the farm has agreed to stop shipping cheese products to the rest of the province, and to stop selling cheese to the public.

E. coli is a bacteria that can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and even death. Anyone who ate the farm's cheese and is feeling very sick is being advised to see a doctor.

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