Salmonella poisoning cases sprout up among students

Several Queen’s students have reportedly been suffering from salmonella poisoning after eating contaminated bean sprouts in the last two weeks.

Public health officials have issued a warning to the public to avoid eating the vegetable, which has affected 15 Kingston-area residents, including an undisclosed number of students.

According to the Kingston Whig-Standard, the first signs of the illness surfaced on Nov. 16, when people began to arrive at the emergency room of the Kingston General Hospital with severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

Those affected are believed to have contracted the bacteria from eating in a downtown Kingston restaurant or purchasing the bean sprouts from local grocery stores.

Salmonella is a bacterial infection usually caused by contact with food products that have been contaminated with animal feces. This can include poultry, raw meat and eggs and unwashed produce.

However, the Kingston cases are believed to be linked to a wider-spread outbreak of the infection, caused by bean sprouts, which has affected at least 200 other people in Ontario in the last two months.

Symptoms of the infection include a high fever, chills, muscles aches, vomiting and diarrhea.

The public health department has been asking grocery stores and restaurants to remove bean sprouts from their shelves and menus to avoid affecting others, until the source of the contamination has been identified.

According to the Kingston Whig-Standard, there are seven or eight bean sprout producers in Ontario.

Dr. Ian Gemmill, a medical officer of health for the Kingston area, told the Kingston Whig-Standard he believes the sprout producer is known but had to refer the case to public health colleagues in Toronto.

—With files from the Kingston Whig-Standard

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