One dead in outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to cantaloupes in Canada

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Published November 26, 2023 at 11:58 am

One dead, 63 confirmed salmonella cases across five provinces in Canada

Health Canada has issued a nationwide recall involving two prominent cantaloupe brands, stemming from an outbreak of salmonella, affecting five provinces this month.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with federal and provincial health partners, along with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to probe a Salmonella outbreak in five provinces: British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The investigation links the outbreak to Malichita and Rudy brand cantaloupes. Health Canada says many affected individuals reported eating cantaloupe before falling ill.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued recall warnings for Malichita brand cantaloupes on three different days this month: Nov. 1, Nov. 14, and Nov. 17, with an update on November 24 to include Rudy brand cantaloupes.

The recalled products were distributed in several provinces, and secondary recalls have been issued for products made using the contaminated cantaloupes.

Symptoms typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria, and usually last for 4-7 days, according to Health Canada. Additionally, in this incident, individuals who became ill are between 0 to 100 years of age. About half of the cases (51%) were men, Health Canada notes.  Figure 1. Text version below.

Figure 1. Number of people infected with Salmonella Soahanina, Salmonella Sundsvall, and Salmonella Oranienburg by week.

Table via canada.ca. is an epidemiological curve, illustrating the outbreak’s timeline—revealing when illnesses started, peaked, and subsided. According to Health Canada, confirming the outbreak link may take weeks from illness onset to reporting and testing. The data includes information on the 63 Salmonella cases.

Risks: Poses health hazard. Symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting diarrhea, headache and abdominal cramps. Older adults, young children, individuals who are pregnant, and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of experiencing severe illness if infected with Salmonella bacteria.

Health Canada notes, individuals carrying Salmonella bacteria can transmit the infection to others for several days to weeks, even in the absence of symptoms. Transmission can occur through person-to-person contact and contact with contaminated surfaces.

While many people recover fully from a Salmonella infection within a few days without medical intervention, it can also lead to severe illness requiring hospitalization.

What should you do: To prevent illness, individuals and establishments are advised not to consume or distribute Malichita or Rudy brand cantaloupe, any products made with these cantaloupes, or any recalled produce. If you’re unable to verify the brand of cantaloupe, it is recommended to discard it. Individuals who have become sick after eating the recalled cantaloupes are urged to contact their healthcare provider.

This recall also applies to businesses in the retail, distribution, manufacturing, and food service sectors, including hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, and facilities such as hospitals, long-term care homes, and daycares, throughout Canada.

As of Nov. 24, there have been 63 confirmed cases of Salmonella infections in five provinces. Among these cases, 12 were reported in British Columbia, 12 in Ontario, 35 in Quebec, 2 in Prince Edward Island, and 2 in Newfoundland and Labrador. These infections have resulted in 17 hospitalizations, and one death.

The CFIA’s investigation is ongoing, and additional recalls may be implemented as necessary.

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