A salmonella outbreak that has sickened 42 people in B.C. since mid-June has been linked to long English cucumbers, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Five new cases have been linked to the outbreak, bringing the total to 50, the health agency said.
No one has died from the outbreak, but 10 people have been hospitalized.
“Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to long English cucumbers has been identified as the likely source of the outbreak,” said an update from the agency. “Many of the individuals who became sick reported eating long English cucumbers before their illness.”
But the health agency stopped short of advising people not to eat cucumbers, saying more information is needed to determine the possible causes of the contamination.
“If contaminated food products are identified, [the Canadian Food Inspection Agency] will take the necessary steps to protect the public, including recalling the product as required. Currently there are no food recall warnings associated with this outbreak,” said the update.
The health agency noted the outbreak appears to be ongoing “as illnesses continue to be reported.”
Anyone can become sick with a salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness from it. Most people who become sick will recover fully after a few days.
The health agency offered several tips for handling fresh vegetables, including cucumbers:
• Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce.
• Cut away any bruised or damaged areas on fresh produce, where harmful bacteria can thrive. Be sure to clean your knife with hot water and soap before using it again.
• Wash fresh produce thoroughly under fresh, cool, running water, even if you plan to peel it.
• Don’t soak fresh produce in a sink full of water. It can become contaminated by bacteria in the sink.
• Use a clean produce brush to scrub items that have firm surfaces, such as cucumbers. It is not necessary to use produce cleansers to wash fresh fruits and vegetables.