Public Health Notice Update - Outbreak of Salmonella infections under investigation

This notice has been updated to include 9 additional cases of Salmonella Infantis related to this outbreak.

OTTAWA, Dec. 18, 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 nine provinces. To date, the source of this investigation has not been identified, but poultry products are food items of interest in the ongoing investigation. Further evidence in the investigation is needed to determine the source in this outbreak.

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 food is cooked thoroughly and safe food handling, repackaging, and preparation practices are closely followed.

Investigation Summary

Currently, there are 91 cases of Salmonella Infantis illness in nine provinces: British Columbia (6), Alberta (11), Saskatchewan (2), Manitoba (2), Ontario (53), Quebec (13) Nova Scotia (2), Prince Edward Island (1) and New Brunswick (1). Individuals became sick between March 15 and November 30, 2015. The majority of cases (60%) are female, with an average age of 40 years. Sixteen 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 poultry products are food items of interest in the ongoing investigation. Further evidence in the investigation is needed to determine the source in this outbreak. Canadians will continue to be updated if 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 is commonly found in raw or undercooked poultry (including eggs), unpasteurized dairy products, fruits, vegetables, herbs and processed foods. Illnesses can be avoided if safe food handling, preparation and cooking practices are followed when preparing and repacking these types of products. Foods contaminated with Salmonella look, smell and taste normal. 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. Raw poultry pieces should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74°C (165°F). Whole poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 82°C (180°F).
  • Eggs and egg-based foods should be fully cooked to ensure they are safe to eat.
  • Keep raw food away from other food while shopping, storing, preparing and serving foods.
  • Never rinse poultry before using it because the bacteria can spread everywhere the water splashes, creating more of a safety hazard.
  • Always read and follow package cooking instructions of any frozen raw poultry products, 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.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a Salmonella infection or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not prepare food 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 severe 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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