Since the summer, a salmonella outbreak has swept across the country. Over 50 people in Canada have been infected with the illness, and at least 42 of those cases occurred in B.C.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the likely cause of the outbreak is long English cucumbers.

A public health notice was updated on Friday warning that the salmonella infections, which were first reported in mid-June of 2018, were still ongoing.

No one has died from the illness, but ten people have been hospitalized since the summer.

“Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to long English cucumbers has been identified as the likely source of the outbreak,” says the federal public health warning.

However, while the cucumbers have been cited as the likely source, the government has not issued any food recall warnings.

According to the release, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will work with the Public Health Agency to identify contaminated foods, and will recall products if it becomes necessary.

“Many of the individuals who became sick reported eating long English cucumbers before their illness. However, more information is needed to determine the possible causes of contamination.”

Tips to protect yourself

In the same release, the federal government offered tips on how to protect yourself from salmonella infections.

While anyone can become ill, special attention should be taken for infants, children, seniors, or those with weakened immune systems.

The tips include:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce.
  • Cut away any bruised or damaged areas on fresh produce, since harmful bacteria can thrive in these areas.
  • Wash fresh produce thoroughly under fresh, cool, running water, even if you plan to peel them.
  • Avoid soaking fresh produce in a sink full of water. It can become contaminated by bacteria in the sink.
  • Use a clean produce brush to scrub items that have firm surfaces like cucumbers, oranges, melons, potatoes, carrots.
  • Use one cutting board for produce, and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood.
  • Place peeled or cut fruits and vegetables on a separate clean plate or in a container to prevent them from becoming cross-contaminated.
  • Use paper towels to wipe kitchen surfaces, or change dishcloths daily to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria, and avoid using sponges as they are harder to keep bacteria-free.
  • Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils before and after preparing food. Use a kitchen sanitizer (following the directions on the container) or a bleach solution (5 ml household bleach to 750 ml of water), and rinse with water.

If you are worried you may have been infected with salmonella, symptoms include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

These symptoms appear roughly 72 hours after being exposed to the infection, and typically run for 4 – 7 days.

In most healthy people, the illness clears up without treatment. However, in severe cases hospitalization or antibiotics may be necessary.

If you experience symptoms or suspect you have contracted salmonella, contact your healthcare provider.

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