The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating an outbreak of salmonellosis cases detected across the country, including 11 cases in Quebec.

Several infected people have reported direct or indirect contact with snakes and feeding rodents – used to feed reptiles – before the onset of illness.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reports 45 confirmed cases between February 2022 and March 2023, including 11 in Quebec, 22 in Ontario and five in Alberta. One person died of salmonella, and nine required hospitalization. Nine infected people were under 5 years old.

“The collaborative outbreak investigation was launched this spring due to an increase in reported cases of Salmonella infection from across the country,” PHAC said in a statement released Thursday.

Symptoms of a salmonella infection usually appear 6 to 72 hours after exposure to an infected animal, an infected person or a product contaminated with the bacteria. The list of symptoms includes fever, chills, diarrhea, headache, nausea and vomiting.

While infected people often recover without treatment, children 5 and under, seniors, pregnant people, and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill.

Based on previous salmonellosis outbreaks linked to snakes and rodents, PHAC reminds reptile owners to practice good hand hygiene and handle their pets safely.