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Salmonella in North America: Update

by 5m Editor
15 October 2008, at 8:50a.m.

CANADA - The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with provincial and local health authorities and the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control to investigate a potential North American gastro-intestinal outbreak of Salmonella Poona.

In Canada to date, there have been 26 cases spread across British Columbia (1), Manitoba (1), Quebec (8), Ontario (14) and Nova Scotia (2) with the same genetic fingerprint.

The cause of the potential outbreak is not known at this time. Provincial laboratories and the Agency's National Microbiology Laboratory are conducting ongoing analyses to determine if other Salmonella Poona cases share the same genetic fingerprint as those identified thus far. The number of cases associated with this outbreak may increase as the investigation continues.

For most people, the risk posed by Salmonella Poona is very low. Although Salmonella is the most frequently reported cause of food-related outbreaks of stomach illnesses worldwide, Salmonella Poona is relatively rare.

Salmonella Poona causes the same illnesses as other species of Salmonella.

Symptoms generally occur in one to three days after eating tainted food, and will last two to five days. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. It can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in some people, such as children, elderly people and those with weakened immune systems. People from these at-risk groups who may have experienced symptoms should consult their healthcare provider.

Salmonella can be present on a variety of foods, including eggs and poultry, unpasteurized milk and contaminated raw fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts.

The Agency reminds all Canadians to take the following precautions when preparing food

  • Wash your hands in warm soapy water before preparing food, afterwards, and again before eating
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables with water.Even if peeled, or if dealing with a melon with a thick rind, we should still wash fruits and vegetables to avoid spreading any bacteria from the surface into the flesh
  • Use warm soapy water to clean knives, cutting boards, utensils, your hands and any surfaces that have come in contact with food, especially meat and fish
  • Read labels and follow cooking and storage instructions for all foods. Make sure to check the 'best before' date, and if you find something on the shelf that has expired, let the store know.
  • Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of cooking.
  • Freeze or consume leftovers within four days of cooking. Always reheat leftovers until steaming hot before eating; and
  • Keep refrigerators clean and at a temperature below 4°C, or 40°F. Install a thermometer in your fridge to be sure
  • Salmonella can also be carried by animals. The Agency reminds pet owners to keep their aquariums clean and to wash their hands thoroughly after handling their pets.
These tips apply to everyone all the time, not just during an outbreak, says the Public Health Agency of Canada.

5m Editor