The death toll from an outbreak linked to contaminated deli meats in Canada rose to 12 Monday, with several other people sickened, health officials said.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said 26 cases of listeriosis were confirmed nationally, including 11 deaths in Ontario province, and one death in westernmost British Columbia.
An additional 29 cases have been diagnosed, but the strains were not yet linked in laboratory tests to a Toronto area facility at the center of the outbreak.
"We fully expect that both the number of suspected and confirmed cases will increase as this investigation continues and samples continue to be tested," Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz told a press conference.
On August 19, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall of Maple Leaf sliced corned beef, roast beef, pepperoni, salami, sausages, smoked ham, and turkey thought to be contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes.
Over the weekend, the number food products recalled rose to 220, including packaged sandwiches made with the tainted meat, with a total estimated value estimated of 20 million dollars.
Food contaminated with listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled, but eating it can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea.
Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness, but infections can lead to premature delivery or stillbirth.