November 6, 2020

Canadian Red Onion Salmonella Outbreak Grows Again: No Change in U.S.

The Canadian red onion Salmonella outbreak has grown again, but there is no change in U.S. numbers. The United States outbreak has not been updated by the CDC or FDA since September 1, 2020, when that agency reported at least 1,021 sick in 47 states. Illnesses in both countries have a similar genetic fingerprint, which means they likely share a common source of infection.

Canadian Red Onion Salmonella Outbreak Grows Again: No Change in U.S.

Both outbreaks have been linked to onions grown and exported by Thomson International of Bakersfield, California. Red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions have been recalled in the U.S. and Canada because of the way onions are grown and processed. Secondary recalls have also been issued for products made with those onions. Onions grown in Canada are not suspected in this outbreak.

In Canada, at least 506 people are sick in seven provinces. That is an increase of 49 more cases since the last update. Two people have now died, but the notice from Public Health Canada states that “Salmonella did not contribute to the cause of death for either individual.”

The patient case count by province is: British Columbia (116), Alberta (292), Saskatchewan (34), Manitoba (25), Ontario (14), Quebec (24) and Prince Edward Island (1). Illness onset dates range from mid-June to mid-August 2020. Seventy-one people have been hospitalized because they are so ill. The patient age range is from 1 to 100 years of age.

If you have onions at home, check to see if they were produced by or imported by Thomson International. If you aren’t sure, or if there is no identification on the onions, throw them away. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Then clean and sanitize all surfaces that may have come into contact with the onions, including storage bins, cutting boards, slicers, countertops, utensils, and other containers.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and pain, stomach cramps and pain, and diarrhea that may be bloody. If you have experienced these symptoms, especially if you have eaten uncooked onions, see your doctor. You may be part of this Canadian red onion Salmonella outbreak.

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