Vials of E. coli found in Kelowna transient camp
By John McDonald
This is close up image of E. coli bacteria.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
October 08, 2015 - 2:30 PM
KELOWNA - Vials containing the bacteria E. coli, apparently stolen from a medical laboratory, have been discovered at a transient camp near Munson Pond.
The unusual find by local bylaw officers prompted a call to Kelowna RCMP and a local hazardous material disposal company, who sent out personnel to retrieve the vials.
"It's pretty common for us to find transient camps in that area, certainly through the summer months, but it’s not common to find stolen material from a lab,” director of protective services Rob Mayne says.
Mayne says some of his officers were on a regular patrol and had identified a transient camp in an isolated area near Benvoulin Road and KLO Road where they discovered the tent.
“They did what they normally do which is give a warning by deflating the tent and leaving a business card hoping they will voluntarily leave.”
It wasn’t until they returned the next day that officers went through the tent and discovered the vials which were labelled E. coli. They called the RCMP and Kelowna Fire Department as well as Hazco, a private environmental services company.
Mayne says further examination confirmed the vials contained E. coli, a common bacteria found in the lower intestines of most warm-blooded organisms.
“There was no risk of harm to the environment but there could have been some risk for people,” he says.
E. Coli is the frequent culprit in outbreaks of food- and water-borne illnesses and can be fatal in some cases. There are thousands of strains and only a few of them are considered dangerous.
Mayne could not say how many vials were found, where they were from or what else was found with it but says his officers will be devising a protocol to deal with such situations in the future.
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