Public Health Notice: Outbreak of Salmonella illnesses linked to contact with pig ear dog treats

OTTAWA, ON, Sept. 29, 2020 /CNW/ - Original Notice

Why you should take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial and territorial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections occurring in British Columbia, Alberta, and Yukon.

Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to pig ear dog treats has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak. Some of the individuals who became sick reported feeding their dog Paws Up! and Western Family brands of pig ear dog treats before their illnesses occurred. These brands are sold at Canadian Tire and Save-On-Foods. The outbreak investigation is ongoing and it is possible that additional products may be identified.

On September 29, 2020, the supplying company, Masters Best Friend, voluntarily issued a Notice of Stop Sale for Paws Up! and Western Family brands of pig ear dog treats. These products were sold nationally. For more information on the affected products, please contact Masters Best Friend.

Although products are no longer available for purchase in stores, they may still be in consumer homes. Given this, do not feed your dog any Paws Up! or Western Family brand pig ear dog treats. Always wash your hands right after handling dog treats, and ensure that all areas the treats have come in contact with are properly cleaned and sanitized.

This outbreak is a reminder of the importance of safely handling all pet treats, including pig ears and pet food. These products can be contaminated with bacteria that can make you and others sick if proper handling and cleaning practices are not followed. If contaminated, pet treats and pet food can also make your pets sick. Ill pets can spread bacteria, like Salmonella, to individuals they are in contact with even if they do not show any signs of illness.

This public health notice will be updated as the investigation evolves.

Investigation summary

As of September 29, 2020, there are eight confirmed cases of Salmonella Typhimurium illness in the following provinces: British Columbia (5), Alberta (2), and Yukon (1). Individuals became sick between late February and early August 2020. Three individuals have been hospitalized. In addition, one individual has died. Individuals who became ill are between 7 and 95 years of age. The illnesses are distributed equally among men (50%) and women (50%).

It is possible that more recent illnesses may be reported in the outbreak because there is a period of time between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported to public health officials. For this outbreak, the illness reporting period is between four and seven weeks.

Who is most at risk

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but children aged 5 years and under, older adults, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for contracting serious illness.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

What you can do to protect your health

It is difficult to know whether a product is contaminated with Salmonella because you can't see, smell or taste it. To help prevent Salmonella infections, the following tips may help reduce your risk of getting sick, but they may not fully eliminate the risk of illness.

  • Do not feed your dog any Paws Up! or Western Family brand pig ear dog treats. Although products are no longer available for purchase in stores, they may still be in consumer homes.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after handling any pet food or treats, including pig ear dog treats.
  • Wash containers, shelves, and areas that held any pig ear dog treats with hot, soapy water, and wash your hands after handling any of these storage items.
  • Keep pet food and treats, including pig ear dog treats, away from children and pick up treats when your pet is done with them.
  • When possible, store all pet treats away from where human food is stored or prepared.
  • When shopping, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching unpackaged pet food or treats, including products in bulk bins or on store shelves.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria from an infected animal, person, or contaminated product.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting

These symptoms usually last for 4 to 7 days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. In some cases, severe illness and hospitalization may occur. In some cases, antibiotics may be required. People who are infected with Salmonella bacteria can be infectious from several days to several weeks. People who experience symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care provider if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

What is the Government of Canada doing

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health of Canadians from enteric disease outbreaks.

The Public Health Agency of Canada leads the human health investigation into an outbreak and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor the situation and to collaborate on steps to address an outbreak.

Health Canada conducts health risk assessments to identify dangers under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA). If a danger is identified, Health Canada can take action on the identified product(s).

The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians if new information related to this investigation becomes available.

Additional information

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

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