An outbreak of Salmonella Infantis in Canada has sickened at least 34 people in eight provinces. No source has been identified at this time, and the investigation is ongoing.
At this time, the case count by province is: British Columbia (3), Alberta (6), Saskatchewan (2), Manitoba (2), Ontario (16), Quebec (3) Nova Scotia (1), and New Brunswick (1). People became ill between June 12, 2015 and September 20, 2015. Most of the cases (62%) are female. The average patient age is 41. Eight people have been hospitalized, which is higher than the usual percentage in typical Salmonella outbreaks. All have recovered or are recovering.
Because no source has been identified, the government can only issue general warnings to help people protect themselves from this infection. Anyone can get sick with a Salmonella infection, but there are certain groups that are more at risk for serious complications. Infants, children, senior citizens, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses are at higher risk of serious illness, and can get sick more easily.
Previous Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to contaminated foods such as poultry, beef, milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The bacteria live in the intestines of animals, reptiles, and birds. The bacteria can contaminate produce either through contaminated irrigation water, in transport, or through improper handling. It is illegal to sell foods with enough bacteria to make someone sick. Poultry often contains Salmonella, so it’s important to handle it and cook it safely.
To protect yourself and your family, always wash hands with soap and water before handling all food, before serving food, and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. Always cook food to a safe internal temperature and measure that temperature with a reliable food thermometer. Keep raw meats, eggs, and poultry away from other foods while shopping, preparing food, and storing foods.
Always wash fresh vegetables and fruits before you eat them. Clean counters and cutting boards after handling raw meats and eggs. And refrigerate or freeze perishable foods within two hours of cooking.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, and vomiting. People are usually sick for four to seven days, but usually get better on their own without medical treatment.
Unfortunately, if you have had a Salmonella infection you can be infectious for several days or weeks. If you work in schools or daycares or the health care field, or prepare or serve food to the public you should consult a doctor before you go back to work.