The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued a health notice after 92 people across Canada were diagnosed with the Salmonella virus, four of whom are B.C. residents.
The outbreak is ongoing, as more and more cases continue to be reported to the health agency. Six people across the country have been hospitalized as a result of the virus, but no deaths have been reported.
In the notice, PHAC note that the cause of the virus is likely related to exposure to snakes and rodents, with many of the infected parties reporting direct or indirect contact with snakes, pet rats and feeder rodents before they contracted salmonella.
“Both reptiles and rodents can carry Salmonella bacteria even though they appear healthy and clean and show no signs of illness,” the PHAC report warns.
“Even having indirect contact with these animals or their environments can put you at risk for developing a Salmonella infection.”
Of the 92 cases, four are in B.C., 16 are in Ontario, 52 are in Quebec, nine are in New Brunswick, five are in Nova Scotia, and six are in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The report identifies the culprit as Salmonella Typhimurium, and says people became sick with this specific strain between April 2017 and October 2019.
More cases may yet be reported, PHAC warns, due to the period of time between people becoming infected and then reporting that illness to health officials.
Canada typically experiences 750 cases of Salmonella Typhimurium each year. Children aged 5 years and younger, pregnant women, older adults, or people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for contracting serious illness.
In regards to stopping the spread of the virus, PHAC suggests regular handwashing, cleaning areas exposed to snakes or rodents, and not kissing rodents or reptiles.