Public Health Notice Update - Outbreak of Salmonella infections related to contact with live baby poultry

This notice has been updated to include 7 additional cases, provide more details about the cases and the source of the illnesses, and provide contact information for consumers who have questions.

OTTAWA, June 3, 2015 /CNW/ -

Why you should take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial and local public health and agricultural partners to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba with cases of human illness related to contact with live baby poultry originating from a hatchery in Alberta.

The risk to Canadians is low. The Agency would like to take this opportunity to remind those who have contact with live poultry from any source to always take precautions to protect their health.  

Contact with live poultry can be a source of Salmonella, even if a bird appears healthy and clean. You can get Salmonella from a bird, its droppings or from environments where birds have been. Proper hand washing is the key to protecting yourself from illness. Always wash your hands immediately after handling birds, cleaning up after them or being in an area where birds have been.

Investigation Summary

Currently there are 41 cases of human illness under investigation in four provinces: Alberta (22), British Columbia (14), Saskatchewan (4), and Manitoba (1). Seven people have been hospitalized, and all individuals have recovered or are recovering. Individuals became sick between April 5 and May 23, 2015, and all have reported contact with live baby poultry including chicks, turkey poults and goslings. Many individuals reported purchasing live poultry by mail-order or from feed supply storefronts for backyard flocks to produce eggs or meat. Poultry varieties commonly reported include: broiler chickens (meat birds) such as Cornish Giants; egg layers; dual-purpose breeds and turkeys. Traceback investigations have indicated that these birds were ordered from Miller Hatcheries and Rochester Hatchery catalogues. Both catalogues ship birds supplied by a single hatchery in Alberta. 

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is leading the animal health investigation and is working closely with the hatchery to determine the source of the infected live baby poultry. The hatchery has distributed information letters about this outbreak directly to affected customers who have placed orders for live baby poultry that were hatched between March 1 and May 5, 2015. 

Who is most at risk

Canadians who are particularly at risk for infection with salmonellosis include babies, children five years of age and under, pregnant women, the elderly and those with weaker immune systems. Young children are at higher risk of infection because they often enjoy handling and interacting with live baby poultry and may not wash their hands before putting their fingers or other contaminated items in or near their mouths. If infected, young children are also at increased risk for serious illness because their immune systems are still developing.

What you can do if you have questions

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has indicated that the hatchery in Alberta primarily ships to Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, but a small number of birds have also been shipped to other provinces and territories, including Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.

If you have questions about your recently purchased live baby poultry from any source you should follow up directly with your live poultry supplier for further information.

If you have concerns about the health of your live baby poultry as it relates to this investigation, you can contact the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian/Animal Health Line in your area to help determine if your flock is affected and seek advice on what to do with your birds.

  • Alberta and Northwest Territories: 780-427-3448
  • British Columbia: 604-556-3003
  • Saskatchewan: 306-787-5547 or 306-798-0253
  • Manitoba: 204-945-7684

What you should do to protect your health

If you have been in contact with any live poultry and develop symptoms of a Salmonella infection that persist or are severe, you should consult a health professional and mention your exposure to live poultry. 

When interacting with any live poultry, either in your own backyard or in public settings, there are things you can do to help protect your health and the health of your family.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soap and water immediately after touching live poultry or any items around where birds have been. Adults should help children wash their hands.
  • If you can't wash your hands right away, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash with soap and water.
  • Keep any live poultry away from your face. Don't snuggle or kiss the birds.
  • Keep your hands away from your face while handling live poultry until you have washed your hands.
  • Children under five years of age, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weak immune systems shouldn't handle or touch live poultry.
  • Keep live poultry and poultry equipment outside your home and away from places where people eat or make food.

Salmonella infections can also result from exposure to contaminated poultry meat and poultry products, including eggs. There are precautions you can take to help protect you and your family from getting sick.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before and after handling eggs and raw poultry meat.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked poultry meat and eggs. Poultry meat pieces, eggs and egg-based foods should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure they are safe to eat. Whole poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 82°C (180°F).
  • Use pasteurized egg products instead of raw eggs when preparing foods that aren't heated (such as icing, eggnog or salad dressing).
  • Never place cooked or ready-to-eat food on an unwashed plate that held raw poultry meat or eggs.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to salmonella bacteria from an infected animal or contaminated product.

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 and hospitalization may occur. 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 Public Health Agency of Canada is doing

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 in health and agriculture to monitor and take collaborative steps to address the outbreak and ensure appropriate measures are being taken with affected poultry to protect public health. The Agency 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: Media Contact: Public Health Agency of Canada, Media Relations, (613) 957-2983

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

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