Toronto Public Health confirms first three cases of Omicron variant in city’s water, officials say
Toronto Public Health advises residents to use treated drinking water only as a last resort and to avoid using raw water for cooking, personal hygiene and other activities that can lead to contamination
TORONTO – Three cases of the bacterium Escherichia coli O103:H4 have been confirmed in Toronto’s drinking water, public health officials said Friday.
Toronto Public Health (TPH) says the number of cases reflects the first three Omicron variant cases in the Toronto water system.
Of those three cases, two have resulted in hospitalizations.
The TPH said there are currently no more confirmed cases of Omicron variant.
This is the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant in Toronto and only third in the province since the outbreak was declared in July.
Toronto Public Health and the Canadian Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) are urging residents to not use water for personal hygiene, food preparation, drinking, cooking and sanitation.
“This outbreak of E. coli O103:H4, a pathogen that causes bloody diarrhea and other severe gastroenteritis, is an example of how disease can be caused or spread by contaminated water,” said Dr. Madeleine Bisson, director of public health for Toronto Public Health. “Anyone who uses public water sources for any purpose should take a simple precaution to protect themselves and others. Never allow drinking water to remain in your bowl when it’s not being used. Use water bottles to carry water home from a restaurant, store or bar, wash hands frequently with soap and water as well as the use of a regular washing machine,” Dr. Bisson said.
Individuals who contract the infection can spread it to others through their person-to-person contact with someone who has an infection – such as touching contaminated surfaces, then washing their hands and then handling food or water.
The infected person has symptoms of bloody diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. The illness lasts 10 to 14 days.
The disease can be fatal for young children and older adults. Symptoms can appear several hours to several days after contaminated water is consumed.
Dr. Bisson said people with symptoms of bloody diarrhea, or those who have consumed contaminated water, should call their medical provider or 911.
“If symptoms develop, seek