Salmonella outbreak in B.C. linked to U.S. red onions

The federal government is warning of an outbreak of salmonella that is linked to red onions imported from the U.S. (iStock)

Health officials are warning residents of western and central Canada of a salmonella outbreak that has been linked to red onions imported from the United States.

Salmonella outbreaks have appeared in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Health officials say that onions imported from the U.S. should not be eaten until further notice.

Restaurants and stores are also encouraged not to serve or sell food products that include U.S. red onions. Canadian red onions are still safe to eat, according to the federal government.

As of Thursday, 114 people across Canada have contracted salmonella as a result of eating the onions. A total of 43 cases have been reported in B.C.

The cases are believed to have occurred between mid-June and mid-July.

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British Columbia is experiencing an outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to red onions imported from the US. We recommend you do not consume or serve imported onions. More information from @GovCanHealth: https://t.co/HJJf4epf9B

— Island Health (@VanIslandHealth) July 31, 2020

Salmonella can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms usually appear six to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.

For most healthy people, salmonella symptoms should clear up in approximately four to seven days without treatment.

However, some people may require antibiotics and in rare cases severe illness can occur.

According to the federal government, information on 102 of the recent salmonella cases is currently available. Of those 102 cases, 16 people required hospitalizations. No deaths have been reported as a result of the outbreak.

People who contracted salmonella range from three years old to 100 years old.

“Individuals are asked to check their homes for red onions, including whole, sliced or chopped, as well as prepared foods that contain red onions as an ingredient, such as premade salads, sandwiches, wraps or dips,” said the Public Health Agency of Canada in a release Thursday.

Anyone who has a U.S. red onion at home is being advised to throw it away, wash your hands, and wash or sanitize where the onion was stored, such as inside a fridge or cupboard.

The Public Health Agency of Canada and U.S. CDC will continue to investigate the outbreak. 

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