The salmonella outbreak in Canada which has affected dozens has been traced back to a hatchery in Alberta.

Per the Public Health Agency, 34 individuals in Canada are sick with salmonella infections after they came into contact with baby poultry. On Monday, May 25, the agency divulged that its investigations on the salmonella outbreak in three Canadian provinces - Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia - have found links to live chicks that belonged to a hatchery in Alberta.

The salmonella outbreak started nearly two months ago with the aforementioned provinces being affected by the problem. Between April 5 and May 12, 17 people became ill owing to salmonella infections in Alberta; 4 in Saskatchewan and 13 in British Columbia.

Investigations suggest that most of these affected individuals had been in close contact with live poultry and from a specific hatchery in Alberta.

For the unfamiliar, salmonella bacteria exist in the intestines of birds, reptiles and other animals. These get transferred to humans when they consume food that is contaminated with animal poop. Alternately, if people are in contact with a bird or its droppings they can still contract salmonella.

Symptoms of the ailment include cramps, fever, diarrhea and vomiting between 12 to 72 hours of contracting the infection. The ailment lasts between 4 to 7 days usually and people can recover sans treatment. However, in some instances the diarrhea can get so bad that the individual may need to be hospitalized. In these cases the infection could spread from the intestine to the patient's blood stream and other body parts; this, if not treated timely with antibiotics, could cause the death of the individual.

According to the Public Health Agency, children under 5 years, expectant women and the aged, as well as those with weak immune systems are at the highest risk of contracting salmonella.

"Young children are at higher risk of infection because they often enjoy handling and interacting with live baby poultry and may not wash their hands before putting their fingers or other contaminated items in or near their mouths," per the agency.

The agency suggests that people wash their hands with warm water post handling live birds, as well as avoid kissing or snuggling the birds. If no water is available it is advisable to use a sanitizer. On should also not eat raw or undercooked eggs or poultry meat.

Photo: Thomas Vlerick |Flickr

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