ALERT: Health Officials Investigating Salmonella Outbreak

October 21, 2018
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Public health officials in 5 different provinces are investigating a salmonella outbreak which has already affected 45 individuals.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said that as of Oct. 19, 37 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella infantis illness were being investigated in British Columbia, with 5 cases in Alberta, and 1 each in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.

The person from Quebec reported travelling to B.C. before becoming ill, a news release says.

Most of the people who became sick reported eating cucumbers, but other potential sources are also being considered. PHAC didn’t give any further details on where the foods that may have been behind the outbreak were purchased.

Nine people needed hospitalization, but no deaths have been reported. All incidents took place between mid-June and late September.

The outbreak appears to be ongoing, as illnesses continue to be reported.

The Washington State Department of Health said that it was investigating 6 cases of Salmonella infections there.

The agency says that five of the six people reported buying and eating English cucumbers from various Costco stores in Washington.

The cucumbers linked to the illnesses were sold in 3-packs of individually wrapped cucumbers.

PHAC said that it is working with the U.S. to determine whether there are commonalities between these two events which may help to identify the source of the Canadian outbreak.

Remember to follow safe food-handling tips including:

  • Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after you handle any fresh produce.
  • Cut away bruised or damaged areas on the produce. Clean your knife with hot water and some soap before using it again.
  • Wash fresh produce thoroughly under fresh, cool, running water.
  • Do not soak fresh produce in sink full of water. 
  • Use a clean produce brush to scrub items that have firm surfaces (like cucumbers, oranges, melons, potatoes, carrots). It isn’t necessary to use produce cleansers to wash fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Use one cutting board for produce and a different one for raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood.

It may take several weeks from the time a person starts getting ill to when the illness is reported and testing confirms a link to the outbreak.

Symptoms of Salmonella: 

  • Fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting — usually last four to seven days. 
  • In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without any treatment but severe illness and hospitalization may occur.
  • People who experience symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care specialist.

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