Public Health Notice - Outbreak of Salmonella infections under investigation

OTTAWA, Oct. 15, 2015 /CNW/ -

Why you should take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections in eight provinces. At this time, no source has been identified and the investigation is ongoing.

The risk to Canadians is low. Salmonella bacteria are found naturally in the intestines of animals, reptiles and birds. The bacteria are most-often transmitted to people when they eat contaminated foods. Contaminated foods often come from animal sources, like poultry, beef, milk or eggs, but can also include fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Illness can be avoided if safe food handling, preparation, and cooking practices are closely followed.

Investigation Summary

Currently, there are 34 cases of Salmonella Infantis illness in eight provinces: British Columbia (3), Alberta (6), Saskatchewan (2), Manitoba (2), Ontario (16), Quebec (3) Nova Scotia (1), and New Brunswick (1). Individuals became sick between June 12 and September 20, 2015. The majority of cases (62%) are female, with an average age of 41 years. Eight people have been hospitalized, and all have recovered or are recovering. No deaths have been reported.

To date, the source of this investigation has not been identified, but the investigation is ongoing, and Canadians will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.

Who is most at risk

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness, and can get sick more easily than others.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but still be able to spread the infection to others.

What you should do to protect your health

Salmonella can be passed on from various sources including contaminated food, pets, and other environmental sources. Foods contaminated with Salmonella look, smell and taste normal. Salmonella illness can be avoided if precautions are taken. Follow the safety tips below to protect yourself and your family.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling all types of food products.
  • Cook food to a safe internal temperature that has been checked using a digital thermometer.
  • Keep raw food away from other food while shopping, storing, preparing and serving foods.
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, clean counters and cutting boards and wash your hands regularly.
  • Always read and follow package cooking instructions, including products labelled Uncooked, Cook and Serve, Ready to Cook, and Oven Ready.
  • Use warm soapy water to clean knives, cutting boards, utensils, your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially meat, poultry and fish.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of cooking.
  • Consume refrigerated leftovers within four days of cooking. Always reheat leftovers until steaming hot before eating.
  • Wash your hands after contact with animal feces (for example, after changing kitty litter or scooping up after your dog).
  • Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas. Wash your hands well with soap and water after handling pet treats, pet food and pet toys, or after playing with or cleaning up after your pet.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a Salmonella infection or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not prepare food or pour water for other people.

 

Symptoms

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after ingesting the bacteria.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting

 

These symptoms usually last four to seven days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. In some cases, severe illness may occur and hospitalization may be required. People who are infected with Salmonella bacteria can be infectious from several days to several weeks. It is possible for some people to become infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show symptoms. Even though you don't show symptoms, it is still possible to carry the bacteria and spread the infection to others. People who experience symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care providers if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

What the Government of Canada is doing

The Government of Canada is committed to food safety.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is leading the human health investigation of this outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal and provincial partners to monitor and take collaborative steps to address the outbreak.

Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine if the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.

The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians as new information related to this investigation becomes available.

Additional information

 

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

For further information: Public Health Agency of Canada, Media Relations, (613) 957-2983

RELATED LINKS
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

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