KAWARTHA LAKES-The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued an update about an outbreak of Salmonella.
Officials say as of December 6, there have been 79 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella Enteritidis illness investigated in: British Columbia (34), Alberta (28), Saskatchewan (4), Manitoba (11) and Ontario (2). The illnesses reported in Ontario are related to travel to Alberta and British Columbia. Individuals became sick between early September 2021 and mid-November 2021. Four individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 5 and 89 years of age. The majority of cases (63%) are female.
CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation. If specific contaminated food products are identified, they will take the necessary steps to protect the public, including requesting a recall of product as required. Currently there are no Food Recall Warnings associated with this outbreak.
This notice has been updated to reflect 16 additional cases that have been reported in the ongoing outbreak investigation. There are now 79 Salmonella illnesses reported across five provinces.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections involving five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The illnesses reported in Ontario were related to travel to Alberta and British Columbia.
The source of the outbreak has not been confirmed and the investigation is ongoing. Many of the individuals who became sick reported eating fresh avocados purchased from grocery stores or served at restaurants before their illness. Investigation findings to date have identified that these avocados have been distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. More information is needed to confirm the source of the outbreak. The outbreak appears to be ongoing, as illnesses continue to be reported.
This public health notice will be updated as the investigation evolves
Who is most at risk
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 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
It is difficult to know whether a product is contaminated with Salmonella because you can’t see, smell or taste it. The following tips for preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, including avocados, may help reduce your risk of getting sick, but they may not fully eliminate the risk of illness.
- Examine fresh fruit and vegetables carefully before buying to avoid those that are bruised or damaged.
- Wash reusable grocery bags or bins frequently.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Cut away any bruised or damaged areas on fruit and vegetables, since harmful bacteria can thrive in these areas. Be sure to clean your knife with hot water and soap before using it again.
- Wash fresh fruit and vegetables thoroughly under fresh, cool, running water, even if you plan to peel them. This helps prevent the spread of any bacteria that may be present.
- Don’t soak fresh fruit and vegetables in a sink full of water. It can become contaminated by bacteria in the sink.
- Use a clean brush to scrub items that have firm surfaces like avocados, oranges, melons, potatoes and carrots. It is not necessary to use produce cleansers to wash fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Use a separate cutting board for fresh fruits and vegetables. Wash cutting boards after each use to prevent cross contamination.
- Place peeled or cut fruits and vegetables on a separate clean plate or in a container to prevent them from becoming cross-contaminated.
- If not immediately consuming, refrigerate fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as products made with fresh fruit and vegetables (e.g., dips/spreads), after you cut, peel or make them. Harmful germs can grow in your fresh fruit and vegetables if left outside the refrigerator for too long
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.
- abdominal cramps
Use paper towels to wipe kitchen surfaces, or change dishcloths daily to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria, and avoid using sponges as they are harder to keep bacteria-free.Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils before and after preparing food. Use a kitchen sanitizer (following the directions on the container) or a bleach solution (5 ml household bleach to 750 ml of water) and rinse with water.Do not prepare food for other people if you think you are sick with a Salmonella infection or suffering from any other contagious illness causing diarrhea, these symptoms usually last for four to seven days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment, but sometimes antibiotics may be required. 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. People who experience symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care provider if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.