The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is warning about a salmonella outbreak in eight provinces linked to snakes and the rodents used to feed them.
The health agency says it’s working with provincial health authorities to combat ongoing infections, as new cases continue to be reported.
PHAC says there are 45 confirmed cases of salmonella in the country as of April 13. The affected people became sick between February 2022 and March 2023.
Here is where every known case of the illness so far is in Canada, by province:
Ontario – 22
Quebec – 11
Alberta – 5
Manitoba – 3
British Columbia – 1
Saskatchewan – 1
New Brunswick – 1
Newfoundland and Labrador – 1
PHAC says several ill people had either direct or indirect contact with snakes and rodents used to feed the reptiles before they got sick.
So far one person has died of salmonella illness and nine people have been hospitalized. Of the 45 people who have salmonella, nine are children under five years old.
“Using a laboratory method called whole genome sequencing, some Salmonella illnesses dating back to 2022 were determined to have the same genetic type as the illnesses that occurred in 2023,” a notice from PHAC reads.
Anyone can get salmonella, however, young kids, older adults, pregnant people, or people with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill, according to PHAC.
Most people who are infected with salmonella get better after about four to seven days, PHAC says, and some may not feel sick at all, but are still able to spread the illness to others.
“Reptiles and rodents can carry salmonella. You can get sick with salmonella by touching reptiles and rodents, their food, and their environments and then touching your face, eyes, or mouth without washing your hands,” a PHAC notice reads.
To protect yourself from getting salmonella, PHAC says to follow these guidelines:
Always wash your hands after being in the area of, or touching a reptile or rodent, as well as anything they eat
Clean anything your reptile or rodent touches with soapy water and sanitizer
Never kiss a pet rodent or reptile
For more information, visit the government’s website.
Symptoms of being infected with salmonella include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and/or vomiting. You usually start to feel them six to 72 hours after you are exposed to the bacteria. In some cases, you may need to be hospitalized for severe illness and/or may need antibiotics to fight the infection.
PHAC says anyone with symptoms or an underlying medical condition should contact their health-care provider if they think they have a salmonella infection.