Raw meatAccording to an alert from the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia:

The BC Centre for Disease Control is collaborating with BC health authorities, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Health Canada to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections in British Columbia likely related to raw pet food. Raw pet food is food served to pets that contains raw animal proteins like meat, bones, organs, and eggs.

Four British Columbians who feed their pets raw food diets have become infected with the same strain of Salmonella. The exact source of the Salmonella is unknown but investigations are ongoing. Infections can occur during handling of raw meat, including raw pet food, or from pets shedding the bacteria. Animals can carry Salmonella bacteria but show no signs of illness.

I haven’t seen any other details yet and hopefully contact tracing is narrowing it down to the food type. It would be good to know how widespread exposure might be, since foodborne disease is markedly under-reported and if 4 cases of salmonellosis were confirmed, it’s likely that many more have actually occurred. Diagnosed case numbers tend to be the minority because they miss people that had mild disease and didn’t go to the doctor, situations where fecal testing was not recommended by the physician, or where the requested fecal samples were not collected.

Raw meat feeding inherently poses some risk to pets and households. It’s of particular concern when there are high-risk individuals (old, young, pregnant, immunocompromised) or high risk pets (similar groups) in the household, as members of these groups are more likely to get sick and more likely to have serious illness.

More information about raw meat feeding, including recommendations to reduce the risk for those who still want to do it, is available on the Worms & Germs Resources – Pets page, under the infosheet for raw meat.