Public Health Notice: Outbreak of E. coli infections linked to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food

June 12, 2020 – Original Notice

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Why you should take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is collaborating with provincial public health partners and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of E. coli O157 infections occurring in three provinces. The outbreak appears to be ongoing, as recent illnesses continue to be reported to PHAC.

Based on the investigation findings to date, exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food has been identified as the likely source of the outbreak. All of the individuals who became sick reported exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food, or to dogs fed this raw pet food, before their illnesses occurred.

On June 12, 2020, the responsible company voluntarily recalled the affected Carnivora brand frozen raw pet foods with various date codes:

These products were sold in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and may have been distributed in other provinces or territories. For more information on the affected products, please consult Health Canada’s Recalls and Safety Alerts website.

This outbreak serves as a reminder that raw pet food products contain raw meat and should be handled no differently than other raw meat products. Canadians are advised not to feed any recalled Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food products to their pets. As the investigation is ongoing, it is possible that additional products will be identified. If you do not have the original packaging of the Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food and are unsure whether these products are linked to this outbreak, throw them out just to be safe.

If additional products are recalled, Health Canada will notify the public through the Recalls and Safety Alerts website.

This public health notice will be updated as the investigation evolves.

Investigation summary

As of June 12, 2020, there are four confirmed cases of E. coli O157 illness linked to this outbreak in the following provinces: British Columbia (1), Alberta (2) and Manitoba (1). The individuals became sick between early March and mid-May 2020. Two individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 3 and 43 years of age. The majority of cases (75%) are female.

The collaborative outbreak investigation was initiated because reports of E. coli O157 illnesses with similar genetic fingerprints were identified. All of the individuals who became sick reported exposure to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food purchased at various pet stores before their illnesses occurred.

The responsible company has voluntarily recalled the affected Carnivora brand frozen raw pet foods with various date codes. The recall was triggered by findings from the outbreak investigation.

It is possible that more recent illnesses will be reported in the outbreak because of the period between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported to public health officials. For this outbreak, the illness reporting period is between three and four weeks.

Who is most at risk

E. coli O157 is more likely to cause severe illness than other strains of E. coli. Pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, young children and older adults are most at risk for developing serious complications.

Most people who become ill from an E. coli O157 infection will recover completely on their own. However, some people may have a more serious illness that requires hospital care or causes long-lasting health effects. In rare cases, some individuals may develop life-threatening complications, including stroke, kidney failure and seizures, which could result in death. 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.

What you should do to protect your health

Check to see if you have recalled Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food in your freezer.

The responsible company has voluntarily recalled the affected Carnivora brand frozen raw pet foods with various date codes. These products were sold in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and may have been distributed in other provinces or territories. For more information on the affected products, please consult Health Canada’s Recalls and Safety Alerts website.

Use the following food safety tips to help prevent further illnesses:

Symptoms

People infected with E. coli O157 can have a wide range of symptoms. Some do not get sick at all, though they can still spread the infection to others. Others may feel as though they have a bad case of upset stomach. And in some cases, individuals become seriously ill and must be hospitalized.

The following symptoms can appear within one to ten days after contact with the bacteria:

Most symptoms end within five to ten days. There is no real treatment for E. coli infections, other than monitoring the illness, providing comfort, and preventing dehydration through proper hydration and nutrition. People who develop complications may need further treatment, such as dialysis for kidney failure. You should contact your health care provider if symptoms persist.

What the Government of Canada is doing

The Government of Canada is committed to food safety. The Public Health Agency of Canada leads the human health investigation into an outbreak, and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor the situation and collaborate on steps to address an outbreak.

Health Canada provides support to communicate to Canadians the products being recalled from the Canadian marketplace.

The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians as new information related to this investigation becomes available.

Epidemiological information

Figure 1 below is an epidemiological curve for this outbreak. Outbreak investigators use this information to show when illnesses begin, when they peak, and when they trail off. It can take several weeks from the time a person becomes ill to when the illness is reported and testing confirms a link to the outbreak. Data are available for 4 cases.

Figure 1: Number of people infected with E. coli O157:H7

Figure 1: Text description
Table 1 - Number of people confirmed to be infected with E. coli O157:H7 by week of illness onset or specimen collection
Week of symptom onset or specimen collection Number of cases
2020-03-08 2
2020-03-15 0
2020-03-22 0
2020-03-29 0
2020-04-05 1
2020-04-12 0
2020-04-19 0
2020-04-26 0
2020-05-03 0
2020-05-10 1
2020-05-17 0
2020-05-24 0

Additional information

Media contact

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations
613-957-2983
hc.media.sc@canada.ca

Public inquiries

Call toll-free: 1-866-225-0709
Email: info@hc-sc.gc.ca

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