275306Canada’s Public Health Agency reported that they have tracked 44 cases of illness cause by Salmonella, with 28 cases in Ontario, 12 cases in Quebec, two cases in Nova Scotia and two cases in Newfoundland and Labrador. Twelve people have been hospitalized but no deaths have been reported.

Individuals became sick between February 7 and May 23, 2015.  Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to frozen raw breaded chicken products has emerged as a source of illness.

The agency said it is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Health Canada to investigate the outbreak.

Salmonella is a bacterium commonly found in raw chicken and frozen raw breaded chicken products. Symptoms of salmonella include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting.

The agency said Canadians can protect themselves against getting sick by taking the following precautions when handling food:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling raw poultry products.
  • Use a separate plate, cutting board, and utensils when handling raw poultry products to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
  • Frozen raw breaded chicken products may appear to be pre-cooked, but some contain raw chicken and should be handled no differently than raw poultry products.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked poultry products.
  • Due to uneven heating, microwave cooking of frozen raw breaded poultry products including chicken nuggets, strips or burgers is not recommended.

Anyone can become sick, but infants, children, seniors and those individuals with weakened immune systems are at high risk.