Health officials in British Columbia have pinned down the source of a Canada-wide salmonella outbreak that took months to investigate.
Dr. Eleni Galanis with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control says investigators have linked the bacteria-caused gastrointestinal illness to Celebrate brand frozen profiteroles and mini chocolate eclairs.
Galanis said cases started appearing in November, but it wasn’t until last week that investigators were able to piece the clues together after a third infected person reported eating a cream puff.
“That is not a common food … that we see reported by people who are part of an outbreak, especially for salmonella. We anticipate chicken or egg being a common source,” she said.
According to Health Canada there have been 73 confirmed cases of the illness in the following provinces:
- British Columbia: 27.
- Ontario: 13.
- Alberta: 12.
- Manitoba: 10.
- Saskatchewan: 9.
- Quebec: 2.
Galanis said the B.C. outbreak was linked to products purchased at AG Foods stores in the Interior and northern B.C. and Fairway Markets in and around Victoria.
Anyone who still has the frozen profiteroles or mini eclairs, in regular or eggnog flavour, should throw them out and thoroughly clean any containers or other kitchen utensils they may have touched.
On its website, Health Canada says anyone can become sick from salmonella but infants, children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems face a higher risk of serious illness.
It also says 19 people were hospitalized and two deaths were reported in Winnipeg, but it’s still not clear if salmonella was the cause of the deaths.
Salmonella is a common bacteria that causes illness. Symptoms may include chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
It is usually caused by eating contaminated foods, but can also be spread from one person to another if people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. People infected with salmonella can be contagious for up to several weeks.
Galanis said investigators interviewed and re-interviewed dozens of people who were infected, trying to find the source of the outbreak.
Part of the issue with this outbreak is that the product is ready to eat as is, Galanis said, so the bacteria couldn’t potentially be destroyed by cooking it.
This story originally appeared on CBC