An outbreak of “extensively drug-resistant” salmonella infections in six provinces that has affected many young children has been linked to raw pet food and contact with cattle, Canada’s public health agency has announced.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) issued a public health notice Nov. 11 saying a joint investigation with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada revealed that exposure to raw meat prepared for pets is a likely source for some of the illnesses reported in the outbreak. Contact with cattle, particularly calves, was also identified as a possible source.

“Illnesses associated with the salmonella outbreak may be difficult to treat with commonly recommended antibiotics, if antibiotic treatment is needed,” the agency said, adding that 43 percent of the reported illnesses have been in children 5 or younger.

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