The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns the public not to eat mussels from a certain area following Canadian tests that showed Salmonella and E. coli contamination.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency tested mussel meats on Aug. 21 and found the contamination, according to the FDA’s warning posted this afternoon. The Canadian agency informed the FDA of the testing results on Aug. 23.

Canadian officials are continuing their investigation. The FDA is awaiting further information on the distribution of the mussels and will continue to monitor the investigation and provide assistance to state authorities as needed.

Freezing does not kill the bacteria.

Restaurants and food retailers in Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York that have recently purchased cultured mussels from East River Shellfish Inc. based in Glenfinnan, Prince Edward Island, Canada, should not sell and should dispose of the mussels.

The mussels subject to the warning were harvested from harvest location PE 4-C on Aug. 14 and shipped on Aug. 15. 

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications.

Consumers who have recently consumed cultured mussels from East River Shellfish Inc. in Illinois, Massachusetts, or New York should immediately contact their medical providers if they develop Salmonella or E. coli infection symptoms. Symptoms are outlined below.

Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients. 

People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.

About E. coli infections
Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated mussels and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, tiredness, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. 

Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated mussels 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.

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. According to the CDC, infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile.

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.

Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

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