Authorities with South Australia Health (SA Health) are warning the public not to eat raw bean sprouts following a large increase in Salmonella infections in recent days.
Over the past 11 days there have been 108 Salmonella Saintpaul cases reported. South Australia sees around 15 to 20 cases each year.
Since the start of December, SA Health has been notified of 233 cases of Salmonella Saintpaul.
Investigations by SA Health, in conjunction with local councils and food suppliers, at this stage indicate that bean sprouts eaten raw may be responsible for these increased numbers of Salmonella Saintpaul.
Of the 233 cases, 43 people have been hospitalized.
Professor Paddy Phillips, Chief Public Health Officer, SA Health said, “Over the past few weeks we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Salmonella Saintpaul notifications in the community.
“Our investigations have indicated to us that it is likely that the consumption of raw bean sprouts is contributing to this increase.
“As a result we are today advising South Australians to cook all bean sprouts and avoid eating raw bean sprouts.
“We also want to alert food retailers such as restaurants and cafes not to serve raw bean sprouts until further notice.
“We are working closely with the producers, suppliers and handlers of the sprouts and are continuing to investigate.”
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, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream area and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis.