Public Health Notice: Outbreak of E. coli infections linked to Carnivora brand frozen raw pet food
June 12, 2020 – Original Notice
On this page
- Why you should take note
- Investigation summary
- Who is most at risk
- What you should do to protect your health
- What the Government of Canada is doing
- Epidemiological information
- Additional information
- Media contact
- Public inquiries
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:
- Whole Animal Chicken Dinner with Vegetables ‘n’ Fruit, Ultra Premium Fresh Frozen Patties for Dogs & Cats
- Chicken Dinner with Vegetables ‘n’ Fruit
- Whole Animal Beef Dinner with Vegetables ‘n’ Fruit, Ultra Premium Fresh Frozen Patties for Dogs & Cats
- Beef Dinner with Vegetables ‘n’ Fruit
- Whole Animal Turkey Diet, Ultra Premium Fresh Frozen Patties for Dogs & Cats
- Turkey Diet
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.
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:
- If you have the affected product, do not feed it to your pet. Consumers should immediately stop using any of the affected pet food products and contact the retailer where they purchased the affected product for a full refund or exchange.
- Wash and sanitize any containers, utensils and surfaces that the raw foods touched before using them again. This includes countertops, microwaves and refrigerators.
- Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after feeding, handling or cleaning up after pets. Animals fed raw meat diets are more likely to be shedding harmful bacteria like Salmonella and dangerous strains of E. coli even when they appear healthy, compared to those fed commercial kibble or other cooked diets. Regularly clean surfaces that come into contact with pet food or pets.
- When possible, store all pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from reach of young children.
- If you suspect you have become ill after being exposed to frozen raw pet food, or pets fed these diets, and have symptoms consistent with E. coli O157 infection, talk with your health care provider.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada does not recommend feeding raw pet food to pets, especially in households with young children, or individuals who have conditions that compromise their immune system that put them at greater risk for more serious illness. However, if you choose to feed your pet a raw food diet, it is recommended that you buy from companies that use meat-derived ingredients that have been prepared in sanitary conditions and passed inspection for human consumption. Also look for companies that have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points protocol in place, which sets safety standards and practices, and helps to greatly reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.
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:
- mild fever
- severe stomach cramps
- watery or bloody diarrhea
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.
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
|Week of symptom onset or specimen collection||Number of cases|
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