OTTAWA, ON, Aug. 12, 2020 /CNW/ - This notice has been updated to advise that the outbreak appears to be over and the outbreak investigation has been closed.
Why you should take note
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) collaborated with provincial public health partners and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of E. coli O157 infections that occurred in three provinces. The outbreak appears to be over, and the investigation has been closed.
Based on the investigation findings, exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food was identified as the likely source of the outbreak. All of the individuals who were sick reported exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food, or to dogs fed this raw pet food, before their illnesses occurred.
On June 12, 2020, the responsible company voluntarily recalled the affected Carnivora brand frozen raw pet foods with various date codes. These products were sold in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and may have been distributed in other provinces or territories. For more information on the affected products, please consult Health Canada's Recalls and Safety Alerts website.
Although this event appears to be over, this outbreak is a reminder of the importance of proper handling of raw pet food products. These raw products can have bacteria that can easily be spread around food preparation areas and can make you sick if the handling of raw pet product practices are not properly followed.
In total, there were five confirmed cases of E. coli O157 illness linked to this outbreak in three provinces: British Columbia (2), Alberta (2) and Manitoba (1). The individuals were sick between early March and late May 2020. Two individuals were hospitalized. No deaths were reported. Individuals who became ill were between 3 and 43 years of age. The majority of cases (60%) were female.
The collaborative outbreak investigation was initiated because reports of E. coli O157 illnesses with similar genetic fingerprints were identified. All of the individuals who were sick reported exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food purchased at various pet stores before their illnesses occurred.
Who is most at risk
E. coli O157 is more likely to cause severe illness than other strains of E. coli. Pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing serious complications.
Most people who become ill from an E. coli O157 infection will recover completely on their own. However, some people may have a more serious illness that requires hospital care or causes long-lasting health effects. In rare cases, some individuals may develop life-threatening complications, including stroke, kidney failure and seizures, which could result in death. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.
What you should do to protect your health
Although the outbreak is over, you should always use the following tips to help prevent illnesses related to the handling of raw pet products:
- Do not feed recalled pet food products to your pet.
- Wash and sanitize any containers, utensils and surfaces that the raw pet foods touched before using them again. This includes countertops, microwaves and refrigerators.
- Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after feeding, handling or cleaning up after pets. Animals fed raw meat diets are more likely to be shedding harmful bacteria like Salmonella and dangerous strains of E. coli even when they appear healthy, compared to those fed commercial kibble or other cooked diets. Regularly clean surfaces that come into contact with pet food or pets.
- When possible, store all pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from reach of young children.
- If you suspect you have become ill after being exposed to frozen raw pet food, or pets fed these diets, and have symptoms consistent with E. coli O157 infection, talk with your health care provider.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada does not recommend feeding raw pet food to pets, especially in households with young children, or individuals who have conditions that compromise their immune system that put them at greater risk for more serious illness. However, if you choose to feed your pet a raw food diet, it is recommended that you buy from companies that use meat-derived ingredients that have been prepared in sanitary conditions and passed inspection for human consumption. Also look for companies that have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points protocol in place, which sets safety standards and practices, and helps to greatly reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.
People infected with E. coli O157 can have a wide range of symptoms. Some do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others. Others may feel as though they have a bad case of upset stomach. And in some cases, individuals become seriously ill and must be hospitalized.
The following symptoms can appear within one to ten days after contact with the bacteria:
- mild fever
- severe stomach cramps
- watery or bloody diarrhea
Most symptoms end within five to ten days. There is no real treatment for E. coli infections, other than monitoring the illness, providing comfort, and preventing dehydration through proper hydration and nutrition. People who develop complications may need further treatment, such as dialysis for kidney failure. You should contact your health care provider if symptoms persist.
What the Government of Canada is doing
The Government of Canada is committed to food safety. The Public Health Agency of Canada leads the human health investigation into an outbreak, and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor the situation and collaborate on steps to address an outbreak.
Health Canada provides support to communicate to Canadians the products being recalled from the Canadian marketplace.
The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians as new information related to this investigation becomes available.
- E. coli
- Pets: Healthy animals, healthy people
- General food safety tips
- Recalls and safety alerts mobile application
SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada