The Public Health Agency of Canada has announced that it is investigating the outbreak of salmonella infections in five provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec. The source of outbreak is yet to be determined, although officials are investigating the role of cucumbers behind this outbreak as many people who became sick reported eating cucumbers.
Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the provincial public health partners are assisting the Public Health Agency of Canada in this investigation.
Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) is a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria most commonly infect people through contaminated food or water. Symptoms of Salmonella infection include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Usually, symptoms last for four to six days, and vanish without treatment in healthy people. In some cases, antibiotics may be required.
Infants, children, and old people with weak immune system are usually at a higher risk of serious illness. Life-threatening complications may develop if organs beyond intestines are infected. People travelling to countries with poor sanitation are usually at higher risk of being infected with salmonella bacteria. Once infected, an individual may carry the infection from some days to several weeks.
As of Friday, October 19, 2018, there were 37 confirmed cases of infection in British Columbia, five in Alberta, and one each in Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. These cases were reported between mid-June and late September. One infected person from Quebec said he had travelled to British Columbia before becoming ill. In total, nine people were hospitalized due to infection, and no deaths were reported. Individuals who were infected were between 1 and 92 years of age, and 58 percent of them were female.
The outbreak appears to be ongoing, as more cases of infection are still being reported. However, there are no reported cases of infection in the central and eastern Canada
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued public health notice to inform residents in western provinces about the investigation findings.
According to health experts, more information is needed to determine the source of the outbreak.