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Increase in Salmonella Infections in the W BoP

PRESS RELEASE 17 January 2008

Increase in Salmonella Infections in the Western Bay of Plenty

More than 40 cases of a particular form of bacterial food poisoning have been confirmed in the Western Bay of Plenty.

Dr Phil Shoemack, Medical Officer of Health for the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Boards, said since October 2007 public health had become aware of 46 cases of Salmonella Chester in the Western Bay of Plenty. During the same period another 12 cases had also been notified in other parts of the country, mainly in the North Island.

Salmonella Chester bacteria has only been reported twice in New Zealand since 2000.

Like most types of Salmonella, this strain causes diarrhoea, fever, and stomach cramps, sometimes with vomiting. Most people recover without treatment, but occasionally hospital care is required. Three local cases were hospitalised and have subsequently been discharged.

As with most Salmonella bacteria, Salmonella Chester infection appears to be related to eating contaminated food, although it can be spread from person to person by poor hygiene.

Toi Te Ora – Public Health, with the help of the local laboratory and GPs, has been investigating the local outbreak. As yet the precise cause of this outbreak has not been identified, with the focus of the investigation being on foodborne sources.

“Food poisoning with Salmonella (and other bacteria) can affect anyone, so it is important that we all reduce the risk by practising good food hygiene, adequately cooking food, and washing our hands,’’ says Dr Shoemack. Salmonella is the third most common notified disease in New Zealand after Campylobacter and Giardia infections.

Any individual with significant unexplained diarrhoea is advised to seek medical attention from his or her general practitioner.

The 4 simple rules to keep food safe are:

Clean Clean hands before handling food. Wash knives and other utensils and scrub chopping boards.
Cook Cook poultry, meat patties and sausages thoroughly. Reheat leftovers until piping hot.
Cover Cover food. Store cooked food above raw food to stop contamination from dripping juices.
Chill Chill food. When outside use a chilly bin and ice pack to keep food cool.

Proper hand washing is important, so remember the 20+20 rule: 20 seconds washing + 20 seconds drying = clean hands.


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