Salmonella outbreak in humans linked to dog treats

Eight people are sick and one died after coming in contact with dog treats.

Public health officials are warning Canadians that an outbreak of Salmonella in humans may be linked to a particular brand of pig ear dog treats. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada issued a public health alert on Sept. 29, stating that it was collaborating with provincial and territorial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections occurring in British Columbia, Alberta, and Yukon.

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Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to pig ear dog treats has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak. Some of the individuals who became sick reported feeding their dog Paws Up! and Western Family brands of pig ear dog treats before their illnesses occurred. These brands are sold at Canadian Tire and Save-On-Foods.

On Sept. 29, 2020, the supplying company, Masters Best Friend, voluntarily issued a Notice of Stop Sale for Paws Up! and Western Family brands of pig ear dog treats. These products were sold nationally. 

So far, eight cases of Salmonella are linked to the outbreak. Three individuals were hospitalized and one person has died. The individuals became sick between late February and early August 2020, and five of the cases were in B.C.

Although products are no longer available for purchase in stores, they may still be in consumers' homes. Given this, do not feed your dog any Paws Up! or Western Family brand pig ear dog treats. Always wash your hands right after handling dog treats, and ensure that all areas the treats have come in contact with are properly cleaned and sanitized.

This outbreak is a reminder of the importance of safely handling all pet treats, including pig ears and pet food. These products can be contaminated with bacteria that can make you and others sick if proper handling and cleaning practices are not followed. If contaminated, pet treats and pet food can also make your pets sick. Ill pets can spread bacteria, like Salmonella, to individuals they are in contact with even if they do not show any signs of illness.

The outbreak investigation is ongoing and it is possible that additional products may be identified.

While anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, children aged 5 years and under, older adults, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for contracting a serious illness. 

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days. It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, typically start six to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria from an infected animal, person, or contaminated product.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting

These symptoms usually last for four to seven days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. With this in mind, in some cases, severe illness and hospitalization may occur. In some cases, antibiotics may be required. People who experience symptoms, or who have underlying medical conditions, should contact their health care provider if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

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