703 Food Safety And Sanitation
November 11, 2013
E. Coli Struck Canadians
Oct. 29, 2013 — Many Canadian scientists and clinicians were silent heroes during the early years (1977-1983) of research relating around verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC). In an article published in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, Dr. Cimolai, a medical microbiologist, found that in the past Canadian scientist called this the 'hamburger disease'. This disease is a threat to the general population; examples of its impact are the Walkerton outbreak and recent meat tainting affecting the beef production industry in Alberta, as well as food contamination in Europe.
Dr. Cimola writes "As stories of microbiological and infectious disease discoveries are told, one of the most charming of these in Canadian history is the recognition of VTEC and associated disease." The considerable burden and impact of E. coli-associated infections is an infection worldwide.
The reporter Cimolai found that Jack Konowalchuk, Joan Speirs and their collaborators in Ottawa, who defined the E. coli verotoxin; Mohamed Karmali, Martin Petric and colleagues at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, who founded VTEC and hemolytic-uremic syndrome; Carlton Gyles, University of Guelph Veterinary School, and Peter Fleming, Hermy Lior and their scientific and medical peers. Many Canadian investigators, but especially those in the veterinary school at the University of Guelph, also contributed to the science of VTEC among animals. The support between clinical and veterinary researchers led to a then first-time exponential growth in the knowledge base of VTEC. "The Toronto group led by Karmali stood front and centre during the most critical period of scientific progress, but certainly Konowalchuk et al.'s findings were pivotal."