As of this afternoon there have been 506 confirmed cases of Salmonella Newport illness in Canada linked to a Salmonella outbreak associated with onions. Officials in the U.S. have not posted an outbreak update since Sept. 1.
The total in Canada has increased by 49 people since the most recent update from the Public Health Agency of Canada on Aug. 31. The 506 confirmed patients are spread across several Canadian provinces — British Columbia has 116; Alberta 292; Saskatchewan 34; Manitoba 25; Ontario 14; Quebec 24; and Prince Edward Island 1.
On the U.S. side of the border, according to a Sept. 1 update, there are at least 1,012 sick people across 47 states with Salmonella infections linked to onions.
Thomson International, Inc., of Bakersfield, CA, shipped the implicated onions and has initiated recalls in both countries. Other companies that use Thomson as a supplier have also recalled onions and related products.
Investigations by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration initially showed a link between the illnesses and red onions, but because of the way onions are grown, harvested, and packed other onion types, such as white, yellow, or sweet yellow, are also likely to be contaminated.
Public health officials in the United States report that 34 illness clusters have been identified in 13 states of the implicated states.Information was collected on 23 of the 34 clusters at restaurants and grocery stores. Information from these clusters shows that many ill people ate red onions and other types of onions.
Investigations conducted by U.S. state and federal officials determined that all 23 restaurants and grocery stores specifically identified as having served or sold red, yellow, or white onions. Seventeen of the 23 (74 percent) served red onions, 13 (57 percent) served yellow onions, and 10 (43 percent) served white onions.
Of those patients interviewed so far in the United States, 90 percent report they specifically remember eating onions or foods containing onions during the days before they developed symptoms of Salmonella infection.
Thomson International, Inc., of Bakersfield, California, as a likely source of red onions. Due to the way onions are grown and harvested, other onion types, such as white, yellow, or sweet yellow, are also likely to be contaminated.
About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.
Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.
Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.
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