Canadian health officials now say 12 deaths have been linked to a listeriosis outbreak from a Maple Leaf Foods plant in North York, Ontario.
The spike in deaths is because they have reworked the definition to include any cases where Listeria is an underlying or contributing factor to a person’s illness, said Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Health officials also said that they are dealing with 26 confirmed cases of listeriosis and are investigating another 29 suspected cases. Of the 26 confirmed cases, there have been 12 deaths –11 victims were from Ontario and the other was from British Columbia. The B.C. death had been on a list of confirmed cases but federal health officials said it remains "controversial" and is still under investigation. Of the 11 deaths in Ontario, Listeria has been definitively linked to six of them while five cases are still under investigation to determine the extent the bacteria had on the death.
The disease has an incubation period of up to 70 days, meaning there could be more cases in the coming weeks. Officials recently confirmed a case in Cranbrook, B.C.
Maple Leaf Foods has recalled all of its products that were manufactured at the Ontario plant. But despite such measures, CTV British Columbia reported that a Safeway store in B.C. was still selling at least one of the banned products as recently as Sunday.