Date Published: 9 April 2009

Salmonella increase in NSW

Health News from Australia.

NSW Health and NSW Food Authority have warned there is a large increase in Salmonella infections in NSW linked to poor handling of food, especially food containing raw eggs.

NSW Health has received 1020 notifications of salmonellosis so far this year, a 37% increase compared with same period last year, according to Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health.

Because only a small proportion of people seek care and are tested for salmonellosis, this represents an estimate of approximately 7000-8000 infections in NSW.

Investigation into recent outbreaks indicates the cause of infection is most likely poor handling of food, with five of the outbreaks investigated identifying poor handling of eggs as a possible source of illness,” Dr McAnulty said.

The outbreaks, linked to the poor handling of foods containing raw eggs, have affected more than 170 people. These outbreaks occurred in a range of settings and there is no reason to believe there is any ongoing risk to the public.

Foods implicated in the outbreaks include mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, fried ice cream, egg butter and custard where raw or undercooked eggs have been used. The best way to ensure eggs are free of Salmonella and other germs are to cook them thoroughly until the white is completely firm and yolk begins to thicken, or use pasteurised egg products.

A recent consumer survey from NSW Food Authority revealed that many people are unaware of the potential health risk from not preparing and handling eggs properly.

Eggs are a perishable product and need to be handled properly like all other raw foods. To avoid the risk of illness from poor egg handling, the NSW Food Authority recommends that you:

* Buy only clean eggs, free from cracks
* Keep eggs in the fridge, in their carton and use before their best before date
* Don't eat food meant to be stored in the fridge if left out for more than 2 hours
* Keep hands, surfaces and utensils clean and dry before and after handling raw foods

Common symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting, with symptoms lasting four to seven days, sometimes longer.

Anyone who contracts salmonellosis should keep up their fluid intake and seek medical advice if symptoms persist”. Dr McAnulty advises.

People with symptoms should not prepare food for others, or attend work if their work involves caring for children, the elderly or patients, until at least 48 hours after they have completely recovered from the illness.



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