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Number of E. coli cases from B.C. cheese increasing across country

Gouda cheese.

Philip Cheung/The Globe and Mail

The Public Health Agency of Canada is now investigating 21 cases of E. coli in five provinces related to contaminated cheese products from a farm in British Columbia.

That's up from 14 cases on Saturday, and the agency says one case each has been reported in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec, and nine people have become ill in Alberta and in British Columbia.

The individuals got sick between mid-July and early September, and an elderly woman in B.C. has died from the bacterium linked to Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm.

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The agency is reminding people to follow proper hygiene to prevent the spread of all food-borne illness including E. coli by washing their hands before and after cooking and keeping knives, counters and cutting boards clean.

Last Tuesday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recalled 14 raw-milk cheese products sold online, at the farm and elsewhere between May 27 and Sept. 14 and added a 15th product on Thursday.

One of the co-owners of Gort's Gouda Cheese Farm in Salmon Arm has offered a tearful apology, saying the company is trying to get to the source of the E. coli outbreak.

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