Health officials are investigating the source of a salmonella outbreak that sickened 34 people across eight provinces in Canada. Public Health Agency of Canada has launched a probe to determine the source of the outbreak that happened between June and September.

The cases spanned through British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The agency is working with federal and provincial health partners to investigate the outbreak and where it started. Up to date, there is still no clear source and health experts are warning the public that though the disease may not cause fatal effects, some people might be vulnerable to severe complications like infants, pregnant women, children, older adults and those who have underlying diseases.

Salmonella infection or salmonellosis is a disease caused by a bacteria found in contaminated food especially poultry, meat and eggs. The bacteria cause diseases like typhoid fever, food poisoning, acute gastroenteritis, enteric fever and other illnesses.

People who contract the infection will experience signs and symptoms like diarrhea, fever, chills, stomach cramps, headache and vomiting. The disease usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most patients recover without any treatment.

In severe cases, dehydration might happen that can lead to electrolyte imbalance, coma and even death if left untreated. Treatment with antibiotics may be needed and rehydration should be initiated to curb water and electrolyte imbalance.

In the United States, there are approximately 1.2 million illnesses and approximately 450 deaths that occur due to non-typhoidal Salmonella each year. In Canada, there are approximately 4 million Canadians who suffer from a food-related illness each year.

Salmonellosis is the second most frequently reported food-related illness in the country. PHAC released guidelines to prevent the spread of the infection like washing the hands thoroughly before and after eating, practicing safe food handling, washing raw fruits or vegetables before eating and keeping the work area in kitchens clean.

In a related outbreak that happened in May, health officials were able to trace the source to a hatchery in Alberta. The outbreak led to hospitalizations of 34 people from Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

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