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Canada disbands its Dole salad outbreak investigation team

Health officials in Canada and the U.S. have thus far reported a total of 32 confirmed victims — four of whom died — with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes found in bagged salads produced by Dole Food Co.

Dole Food Co.

Canada’s Public Health Agency is wrapping up its outbreak investigation.

“Given that the source of the outbreak was identified and contaminated products have been recalled from the market, the outbreak investigation coordinating committee has been deactivated and the investigation is coming to a close,” according to the Public Health Agency.

The illnesses of all of the victims in both countries were so severe that they required hospitalization. Canadian officials said in their final outbreak update that the 14 lab-confirmed victims were from five provinces: Ontario 9, Quebec 2, New Brunswick 1, Prince Edward Island 1, and Newfoundland and Labrador 1.

The victims in Canada became sick between May 2015 and February this year. Three of them died, but the Canadian Public Health Agency reported “it has not been determined if Listeria contributed to the cause of these deaths.”

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t posted an update on the outbreak since Feb. 25.

At that time, the CDC had confirmed 18 people from nine states as having infections from the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes found in the Dole-produced bagged salad. Illness onset dates began July 5 with the most recent One outbreak victim in Michigan died.

Dole recalled some bagged salads Jan. 22 and expanded the recall Jan. 27 to include all varieties and brands of bagged salads produced at its Springfield, OH, facility.

The outbreak, which U.S. officials had been investigating since September 2015, was linked to the Dole salad production facility early this year when a routine FDA sampling program found a bagged salad collected from a retailer tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

As part of standard procedures, officials loaded the DNA profile of the pathogen from the salad into the CDC’s PulseNet database and it matched samples taken from listeriosis patients.

In the milder form of the disease, symptoms can start several days after consuming a product contaminated with Listeria. For the more serious form of the disease, the incubation period is generally much longer; on average about 21 days, but can be up to 70 days after exposure, according to the Canadian health agency.

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