Public Health Notice: Outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to snakes and rodents

April 13, 2023 – Original Notice

Why should you take note

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections occurring in eight provinces. The outbreak is ongoing, as recent illnesses continue to be reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The outbreak is linked to snakes and feeder rodents. Many of the individuals who became sick reported having direct or indirect contact with snakes and feeder rodents (used as reptile food) before their illnesses occurred.

To prevent illness, individuals are advised to practice good hand hygiene, frequent handwashing, and safe handling of snakes and rodents, their food, and their environments. This advice is based on the findings from this investigation and past outbreaks of Salmonella illnesses linked to snakes and rodents that highlighted the important role reptile owners and business operators can play in preventing new illnesses linked to these types of pets.

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

Investigation summary

As of April 13, 2023, there are 45 confirmed cases of Salmonella illness reported in this outbreak in the following provinces: British Columbia (1), Alberta (5), Saskatchewan (1), Manitoba (3), Ontario (22), Quebec (11), New Brunswick (1) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1).

Individuals became sick between February 2022 and March 2023. Nine individuals have been hospitalized. One person has died and provincial public health partners have confirmed that Salmonella was the cause of death. Individuals who became ill are between 0 and 96 years of age. Nine of 45 (20%) of the cases are under 5 years of age. Approximately half of the cases (51%) are male.

The collaborative outbreak investigation was initiated this spring because of an increase in reports of Salmonella illnesses in multiple jurisdictions across Canada. Using a laboratory method called whole genome sequencing, some Salmonella illnesses dating back to 2022 were determined to have the same genetic type as the illnesses that occurred in 2023. More recent illnesses may be reported in the outbreak because there is a 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 4 and 6 weeks.

Who is most at risk

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but children aged 5 years and under, older adults, pregnant people, 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. Some people can be infected with the bacteria and not get sick or show any symptoms, but still be able to spread the infection to others.

What should you do to protect your health

Reptiles and rodents can carry Salmonella. You can get sick with Salmonella by touching reptiles and rodents, their food, and their environments and then touching your face, eyes, or mouth without washing your hands.

To prevent the direct or indirect spread of Salmonella to others, follow the advice outlined in this section to help reduce your risk of becoming ill from contact with reptiles (including snakes), rodents, and their environments.


Symptoms of a Salmonella infection , called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after exposure to Salmonella bacteria from an infected animal, person, or contaminated product.

Symptoms include:

These symptoms usually last for 4 to 7 days. In healthy people, salmonellosis often clears up without treatment. In some cases, severe illness and hospitalization may occur. In some cases, antibiotics may be required. People who are infected with Salmonella bacteria can be infectious from several days to several weeks. People who experience symptoms or have underlying medical conditions should contact their healthcare provider if they suspect they have a Salmonella infection.

Epidemiological information

Figure 1 is an epidemiological curve for this outbreak, which shows the number of new cases by month. 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 45 cases.

Figure 1: Number of people infected with Salmonella Typhimurium
Figure 1: Number of people infected with Salmonella Typhimurium
Figure 1 - Text Equivalent
Table 1 – Number of people confirmed to be infected with Salmonella by month of illness onset or specimen collection
Month of symptom onset or specimen collection Number of cases
January 2022 0
February 2022 1
March 2022 5
April 2022 1
May 2022 2
June 2022 4
July 2022 3
August 2022 3
September 2022 3
October 2022 6
November 2022 0
December 2022 6
January 2023 2
February 2023 6
March 2023 3
April 2023 0

Additional information

Media contact

Public Health Agency of Canada
Media Relations

Public inquiries

Call toll-free: 1-866-225-0709

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