1 person dead in series of salmonella illnesses linked to snakes, rodents

The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating a series of salmonella illnesses linked to handling snakes and rodents.

There have been confirmed cases in 45 people across the country. One person died.

The illnesses happened between February 2022 and March 2023 in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Reptiles and rodents can carry salmonella and people can get infected after touching them, their food or their habitats.

Public health officials are urging people to wash their hands after handling pet snakes or rodents and to never kiss them.

They say rodents that are used as food for snakes should never be kept in the same fridge or freezer as human food.

They also warn that reptiles and rodents should not be kept in homes, daycare centres or schools with children five years of age and under.

Young children are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if infected with salmonella. Nine of the cases were children five years of age and under.

Seniors, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are also at higher risk of serious illness.