This notice has been updated to include seven additional cases of Salmonella Infantis related to this outbreak, bringing the total to 98 cases. This update is to remind Canadians to follow proper food safety practices when handling, repackaging and cooking poultry products, to avoid getting sick.
The risk to Canadians is low, but the Public Health Agency of Canada and its partners would like to emphasize to consumers the importance of properly handling, repackaging, and cooking poultry products to avoid getting sick.
Information provided by individuals who became sick indicates that some illnesses may have been caused by improperly handling and repackaging raw poultry products. Other individuals who were sick reported consuming various brands and types of chicken. A sample of raw chicken taken from the home of an individual who was sick has tested positive for the same strain of Salmonella Infantis which suggests raw chicken is the likely source of the outbreak.
Salmonella is commonly found in raw or undercooked poultry. Salmonella bacteria are found naturally in the intestines of animals, reptiles and birds. The bacteria are most-often transmitted to people when they eat or improperly handle or cook contaminated foods. Contaminated foods often come from animal sources, like poultry, beef, milk or eggs, but can also include fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
What you should do to protect your health
You can avoid getting sick if you take precautions when you handle, repackage, and cook any poultry products. Foods contaminated with Salmonella look, smell and taste normal. Review and follow the safety tips below to prevent illnesses.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling all types of food products.
- Cook food to a safe internal temperature that has been checked using a digital thermometer. Raw poultry pieces should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74°C (165°F). Whole poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 82°C (180°F).
- Eggs and egg-based foods should be fully cooked to ensure they are safe to eat.
- Keep raw food away from other food while shopping, storing, repackaging, cooking and serving foods.
- Never rinse poultry before using it because the bacteria can spread everywhere the water splashes, creating more of a safety hazard.
- Always read and follow package cooking instructions of any frozen raw poultry products, including products labelled Uncooked, Cook and Serve, Ready to Cook, and Oven Ready.
- Use warm soapy water to clean knives, cutting boards, utensils, your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially meat, poultry and fish.
- If you have been diagnosed with a Salmonella infection or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not cook food for other people.
The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to collaborate with federal and provincial public health partners to monitor an outbreak of Salmonella infections. Currently, there are 98 cases of Salmonella Infantis illness in nine provinces: British Columbia (7), Alberta (12), Saskatchewan (2), Manitoba (2), Ontario (57), Quebec (14) Nova Scotia (2), Prince Edward Island (1) and New Brunswick (1). Individuals became sick between March 15 and December 12, 2015. The majority of cases (60%) are female, with an average age of 40 years. Sixteen people have been hospitalized, and all have recovered or are recovering. No deaths have been reported.
Who is most at risk
Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness, and can get sick more easily than others.
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 not get sick or show any symptoms, but still be able to spread the infection to others.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after ingesting the bacteria.
- abdominal cramps
These symptoms usually last four to seven days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. 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. It is possible for some people to become infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show symptoms. Even though you don’t show symptoms, it is still possible to carry the bacteria and spread the infection to others. People who experience severe symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care providers if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.
What the Government of Canada is doing
The Government of Canada is committed to food safety.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is leading the human health investigation of this outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal and provincial partners to monitor and take collaborative steps to address the outbreak.
Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine if the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.
The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians if new information related to this investigation becomes available.
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