The family of a Winnipeg woman who died in the cross-Canada salmonella outbreak is speaking out and searching for answers.

Tim Sorensen is the son-in-law of an 84-year-old resident at Golden West Centennial Lodge, a Winnipeg care home.

Sorensen has identified his mother-in-law as one of two people who died during the outbreak, and one of three residents at the facility who tested positive for the bacteria.

As of April 15th, the Public Health Agency of Canada said, it had not been determined whether salmonella was a contributing cause in these deaths, but did say the number of cases has grown to 70.

Family says resident experienced severe dehydration

In emails exchanged between Sorensen and CTV News, he explains his family’s frustrations about what happened in the days around the 84-year-old resident’s death.

“My mother-in-law became ill on March 4th however was not taken to the hospital until Mar. 7 due to severe dehydration and died Mar. 9,” said Sorensen from his home in Vancouver Island, B.C.

“Why a senior care facility would take so long and allow someone to come to the point of severe dehydration before getting them to a hospital is beyond me.” 

Sorensen said a family member told staff in-person on March 10 about the salmonella diagnosis. 

“I'm not sure if the Lodge knew about the salmonella outbreak before all of this or not, as when we informed them that the death was due to food (salmonella) poisoning the reaction was "no she had the flu",” he said.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority previously told CTV News the last illness onset was March 15.

‘Salmonella was a contributing factor’

Sorensen said his mother-in-law was first diagnosed in hospital with sepsis, before doctors did more tests on March 8, the day before she died.

“It was on Mar. 9 when the family was informed that the lab test results revealed salmonella poisoning.

“Shortly after she passed away and the family was told by the doctors at the hospital that the salmonella was a contributing factor to the death,” said Sorensen.

He said on March 11, the resident’s granddaughter brought the concern about salmonella to the Manitoba Public Health Inspector.

The family says the death came as shock. They encourage other families to keep a close eye on their loved ones in care homes.

Care home and health authority respond

“I can’t speak about the individual for privacy reasons,” said executive director of the care home Joyce Kristjansson in an email to CTV News.

“Our first information about this was from the family, and based on that I called the Health Inspector, who was also called by the family,” she said.

Kristjansson said although the personal care home is not run by the province, it is bound by the same privacy laws as public institutions. 

“Public health officials received information from a member of the public about a potential salmonella case at Golden West Lodge, and responded by visiting the facility the following day. No concerns were identified by public health inspectors during this visit, nor during multiple subsequent visits. Public health officials declared an outbreak as per the standard public health reporting protocol. The standard communicable disease outbreak management protocols were implemented, and were lifted when the outbreak was declared over on April 2,” a spokesperson said in an email to CTV News.

READ MORE: Lack of communication over salmonella outbreak at care home, daughter of resident says

Seventy cases under investigation across Canada

Seventy salmonella cases are under investigation in six provinces, 10 of which are in Manitoba.

The source of the outbreak has not been identified.

Symptoms of a salmonella infection, which can include fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and vomiting and usually last for four to seven days, typically start six to 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria from an infected animal or contaminated product.