The Middlesex-London Health Unit is investigating a recent spike in cases of salmonella.

There has been 14 lab confirmed cases of salmonella reported since last Thursday.

Based on a five-year average of salmonella cases reported in August, only nine cases would be expected over the entire month.

“With people barbecuing and preparing food outdoors, it isn’t uncommon to see a few cases of salmonella in the summer months, but more than a dozen in a week is surprising, which is why we’re trying to determine a cause,” said Stephen Turner, Director of Environmental Health and Infectious Diseases with the Middlesex-London Health Unit in a release.

“Proper food preparation practices, like keeping foods separated, making sure meals are cooked to the proper internal temperature and ensuring cold items stay cold and hot items remain hot, are critical in preventing food-borne illnesses, like salmonella,” Turner added.

To prevent food-borne illnesses, the Health Unit also recommends:

• Washing hands with warm water and soap before and after handling food;

• Washing cutting boards, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next food;

• Keeping food separate to avoid cross-contamination;

• Keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices apart from other food items;

• Using a thermometer to make sure food items are cooked to a safe internal temperature.

• Refrigerating leftovers and takeout foods within two hours and,

• Keeping refrigerators set at 4°C or below.