The federal government is working with provincial health agencies to identify the source of a Salmonella outbreak that has infected 91 people between March and November.
Eight provinces reported infections during this period, including Quebec (13), Ontario (53), Alberta (11), British Columbia (6), Saskatchewan (2), Nova Scotia (2), Manitoba (2), New Brunswick (1) and Prince Edward Island (1). No deaths have been reported.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says risk of contracting the illness is low and while the source of the current outbreak is unknown, the agency identified poultry products as “items of interest” in its continuing investigation.
Salmonella comes from a bacteria found naturally in the intestines of birds and reptiles and is most often transmitted to people when they eat contaminated foods (mostly poultry, milk, eggs or beef).
Infants, children and seniors are most at risk of contracting the bacterial illness and once a person is infected, they can contaminate others. Symptoms include diarrhea, chills, fever, abdominal cramps, headaches and nausea.
To avoid contracting Salmonella the PHAC advises people to use the following safety tips when preparing food:
- Cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly. Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs, or raw (unpasteurized) milk.
- If you are served undercooked meat, poultry or eggs in a restaurant, don’t hesitate to send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
- Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
- Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly, and the immunocompromised.
- Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles, birds, or baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces.
- Avoid direct or even indirect contact between reptiles (turtles, iguanas, other lizards, snakes) and infants or immunocompromised persons.
- Don’t work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time.
- Mother’s milk is the safest food for young infants. Breastfeeding prevents salmonellosis and many other health problems.