Food Safety News reports that in a public health notice, officials report a Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak of unknown origin is continuing to grow, with patients spread across five Canadian provinces.

As of Dec. 9, there were 16 new confirmed patients, bringing the tally to 79, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Four people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

“Many of the individuals who became sick reported eating fresh avocados purchased from grocery stores or served at restaurants before their illness. Investigation findings to date have identified that these avocados have been distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. More information is needed to confirm the source of the outbreak. The outbreak appears to be ongoing, as illnesses continue to be reported,” according to public health officials.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada is issuing this public health notice to inform residents and businesses in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba of the investigation findings to date so that they can make informed decisions.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on the outbreak investigation. As of Dec. 10 no recalls had been initiated in relation to the outbreak.

The majority of the patients live in British Columbia, where 34 people have been confirmed infected. Patient counts in the other four implicated provinces are Alberta with 28 patients, Saskatchewan with 4, Manitoba with 11 and Ontario with 2. The illnesses reported in Ontario are related to travel to Alberta and British Columbia, according to public health officials. 

Patients confirmed fo far became sick between early September and mid-November 2021. The majority of cases, 63 percent, are female.

Officials expect the patient count to grow, partly because of the time between illness onset and reporting to federal authorities. After a person becomes ill there must be initial and confirmation testing before the patient’s case is reported to provincial and finally federal officials.