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CFIA investigates salmonella outbreak linked to avocados

avocados generic

December 9, 2021: This notice has been updated to reflect 16 additional cases that have been reported in the ongoing outbreak investigation. There are now 79 Salmonella illnesses reported across five provinces.

Why you should take note
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections involving five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The illnesses reported in Ontario were related to travel to Alberta and British Columbia.

The source of the outbreak has not been confirmed and the investigation is ongoing. Many of the individuals who became sick reported eating fresh avocados purchased from grocery stores or served at restaurants before their illness. Investigation findings to date have identified that these avocados have been distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. More information is needed to confirm the source of the outbreak. The outbreak appears to be ongoing, as illnesses continue to be reported.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is issuing this public health notice to inform residents and businesses in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba of the investigation findings to date so that they can make informed decisions. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that residents in other provinces and territories are affected by this outbreak. This notice also includes important safe food handling information for Canadians and businesses that may help prevent further Salmonella infections.

This public health notice will be updated as the investigation evolves.

Investigation summary
As of December 9, there have been 79 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella Enteritidis illness investigated in: British Columbia (34), Alberta (28), Saskatchewan (4), Manitoba (11) and Ontario (2). The illnesses reported in Ontario are related to travel to Alberta and British Columbia. Individuals became sick between early September 2021 and mid-November 2021. Four individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 5 and 89 years of age. The majority of cases (63%) are female.

CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation. If specific contaminated food products are identified, they will take the necessary steps to protect the public, including requesting a recall of product as required. Currently there are no Food Recall Warnings associated with this outbreak.

Who is most at risk
Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but young children, the elderly, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for contracting serious illness.

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 to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

What the Government of Canada is doing
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health of Canadians from enteric disease outbreaks.

PHAC leads the human health investigation into an outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor the situation and to collaborate on steps to address an outbreak.

Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine whether the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.

CFIA conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.

Epidemiological information
Figure 1 is an epidemiological curve for this outbreak, which shows the numbers of new cases by week. Outbreak investigators use this information to show when illnesses begin, when they peak, and when they trail off. It can take several weeks from the time a person becomes ill to when the illness is reported and testing confirms a link to the outbreak. Data are available for 79 cases.

Media contact
Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations

Public inquiries
Call toll-free: 1-866-225-0709