In a press release issued Friday, the agency said the illnesses have occurred in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. There was also a case in Ontario, but it was linked to a trip from Alberta. Three people were hospitalized and no deaths were reported, the statement said.
The agency said that “many” of those who fell ill reported eating fresh produce before they fell ill, but more information is needed to determine the source. The outbreak appears to be continuing as diseases continue to be reported, he said.
Anyone can get salmonella, but young children, the elderly, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.
The public health agency said it was working with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada.
He also urged people to follow safe food handling practices to help prevent further Salmonella infections.
“It’s hard to know if a product is contaminated with Salmonella because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it,” the public health agency said.
The public health agency recommended the following:
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce.
- Cut off any bruised or damaged areas on fresh produce, as harmful bacteria can grow in these areas.
- Wash fresh produce thoroughly under cool, cold running water, even if you plan to peel it. This helps prevent the spread of any bacteria that might be present.
- Do not soak fresh produce in a sink full of water. It can be contaminated with bacteria in the sink.
- Use a clean fruit and vegetable brush to scrub items that have firm surfaces like avocados, oranges, melons, potatoes, carrots. Cleaning products do not need to be used to wash fresh fruits and vegetables, the agency said.
- Use one cutting board for produce and another for raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.
- Place peeled or cut fruits and vegetables on a separate clean plate or container to prevent contamination.
- Use paper towels to wipe down kitchen surfaces or change tea towels daily to avoid the risk of cross contamination and the spread of bacteria and avoid using sponges as they are more difficult to keep bacteria free.
- Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils before and after preparing food.
- Do not prepare food for other people if you think you have a salmonella infection or any other contagious disease that causes diarrhea.