Queensland, Australia has seen 1895 cases of salmonella during the first 10 weeks of 2015, prompting health officials to issue an alert to businesses involved in food preparation, and the community as a whole.
The number of cases to date is more than double the typical number reported from the second largest Australian state.
According to Executive Director of the Health Protection Unit, Sophie Dwyer, “Half of the cases reported this year have been from the Salmonella Typhimurium strain, with the majority being reported in south east Queensland,” Ms Dwyer said.
“Salmonella Typhimurium has caused 13 outbreaks of foodborne disease in South East Queensland this year to date, 10 of which have been confirmed or suspected to have involved foodborne transmission.
“These figures show the vital need for food handlers to be aware of food safety procedures.”
Health officials have made a point to advise the public on the salmonella risks of cracked, dirty or unstamped eggs. Director Dwyer said cracked or dirty eggs had a greater risk of Salmonella, one of the leading causes of food poisoning.
“Eggs that are cracked or dirty have a much higher chance of carrying bacteria and, in turn, significantly increase the risks of food poisoning,” she said.
“Surface contamination can also contaminate the egg during the cracking of the egg.
“Cracked or dirty eggs should not be used in the preparation of food, and consumers are advised to always check eggs before purchasing them.”
Queensland Health offers the following advise to prevent salmonella contamination and infection: Always wash hands before and after handling eggs and raw chicken; Prevent cross contamination by using separate chopping boards, tongs, knives, containers and other equipment when storing, preparing, handling and cooking raw and ready to eat food; Cook chicken thoroughly so that there is no pink meat and the juices run clear; Uncooked food that contains raw eggs are a high risk, therefore consider using pasteurized egg products and Ensure food is stored below 5 degrees Celsius and is returned to the refrigerator within two hours.
Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea,vomiting and abdominal pain.
In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.