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article imageSalmonella outbreak hits eight provinces in Canada

By Karen Graham     Oct 17, 2015 in Food
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with federal and provincial health officials in an investigation into an outbreak of Salmonella infantis in eight provinces, including Manitoba.
As of Friday night, CTV News Winnipeg was reporting PHAC said, "At this time, no source has been identified and the investigation is ongoing." The comment has raised some concerns, though because the outbreak has been going on for a number of months.
Talking about the length of time the investigation is taking, Dr. Rick Holley, a distinguished professor in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, said, “it's been going on since June, and it's now October, and we're still no further ahead in finding out what it is that is causing this problem."
However, the PHAC is saying the health risk to Canadians is low. In a Public Health Notice issued on October 15, the agency explained, "the bacteria is normally found in the intestines of animals, reptiles and birds. Contaminated foods often come from animal sources, like poultry, beef, milk or eggs, but can also include fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Illness can be avoided if safe food handling, preparation, and cooking practices are closely followed."
There are currently 34 cases of Salmonella infantis in eight provinces: British Columbia (3), Alberta (6), Saskatchewan (2), Manitoba (2), Ontario (16), Quebec (3) Nova Scotia (1), and New Brunswick with one. Individuals became sick between June 12, and Sept. 20, 2015.
The majority (61 percent) of the cases were female, with an average age of 41 years. Eight people were hospitalized, but all are now recovering or have recovered. The agency could not pinpoint where in manitoba the two cases were reported.
“It’s common across the country,” said Dr. Holley, “The same DNA fingerprint on that Salmonella is coming up, and so there is a common cause, and it would really be unfortunate if we don’t find out what the cause of that is.”
Added note: While Salmonella infantis can be found in meats and poultry, vegetables and fruits, the bacteria has also been found in dry pet food and treats.
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