Public health agencies are investigating a countrywide salmonella outbreak after 22 Canadians have fallen ill because of contaminated turkey or chicken.
Of the reported cases listed in a notice by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), five have been hospitalized and one individual has died. The majority of cases were reported in Western Canada: nine came from British Columbia, seven in Alberta, five in Manitoba, and one in New Brunswick.
PHAC is working with the Canadian Food Health Agency, Health Canada, and several provincial health authorities to track down infections.
Contaminated holiday dinners might be a culprit: half of the illnesses occurred from October to November, a period where turkey was commonly served for Thanksgiving.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the Canadian outbreak involves the same salmonella strain that has poisoned 216 Americans so far. Although U.S. turkey brands like Jennie-o have been recalled south of the border, a single source has yet to be identified in Canada.
A salmonella outbreak linked to cucumbers affected 37 Canadians earlier this year, hospitalizing five.
With Outbreak Ongoing, Prevention Is Key
Salmonella is a bacteria that causes food poisoning, commonly found in raw or uncooked meat. People can contract salmonella by ingesting contaminated foods or water. The bacteria is undetectable to taste or smell, spreading easily in unsanitary conditions; unwashed chopping boards and knives are suspect.
Symptoms of salmonella include nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and diarrhea. Infection usually clears up on its own within one to three days.
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To prevent future cases, PHAC is encouraging Canadians to practice hygienic food preparation, as well as to cook their chicken and turkey thoroughly.
Cooking Temperatures To Keep In Mind
Whole turkey and chicken: 82 degrees Celsius.
Breasts, ground meat, burgers, and leftovers: 74 degrees Celsius.
Internal temperatures can be checked by using a thermometer on the thickest part of the meat.
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