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Salmonella mbandaka outbreak

Salmonella mbandaka outbreak

4 April 2008

The Ministry of Health is working with local and national authorities to determine the cause of an outbreak of Salmonella mbandaka, a strain rarely seen in New Zealand.

Nationally there have been 28 cases, 10 of which have occurred in the Nelson Marlborough district. A recent death occurred in an elderly woman in Nelson Hospital who had been infected with Salmonella mbandaka.

The Ministry's Director of Public Health, Dr Mark Jacobs says the Ministry is working with the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, the country's District Health Boards and ESR in an effort to determine the cause of the outbreak.

"There has been a marked increase in notifications of the infection since the beginning of the year, and investigations are being carried out by NZFSA and ESR. However, it's worth noting at this stage, no food premises have been implicated and all food samples tested have returned negative results."

To the middle of March 2008 there had been 259 reported cases of salmonella infections. In the three months to the end of March 2007, there were 304 cases.

"While there's not a great difference in the number of cases reported, we don't usually see the mbandaka strain in New Zealand and this is one of the things causing concern. We're working with other authorities to find out where it's come from and to stop its spread as quickly as possible," said Dr Jacobs.

Salmonella are bacteria which typically live in the gut of domestic and wild animals, including poultry, pigs, cattle, rodents and pets (such as cats, dogs, turtles and chicks).

Symptoms usually included diarrhoea, stomach cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting and headache.

Salmonella has been linked to outbreaks worldwide. Incriminated foods include poultry, meat and meat products, contaminated water, raw milk and raw milk products, fresh product (including sprouts), spices, peanut butter, seafoods and raw and under-cooked eggs. Bacteria may also be spread from the faeces of an infected person.

Common risk factors in New Zealand include contact with farm animals and pets, drinking untreated water and overseas travel during the incubation period. Contact with an infected person or with recreational water is less commonly reported. An outbreak with a different strain of Salmonella around 2000 was associated with sparrows.

Preventing Salmonella transmission and infection

- wash hands after using the toilet
- Salmonella can be passed from person to person and particular care with personal hygiene needs to be taken around infants with diarrhoea.

-wash hands before eating or preparing food (particularly important after handling raw meat and poultry)

- wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly
- keep raw and prepared foods separate during preparation, serving and storage
- thoroughly clean all food preparation areas immediately after preparing raw poultry and meat

- never allow perishable food, such as meat, meat products, poultry, dairy products and seafood (shellfish), to sit in a warm environment (keep refrigerated)
- thoroughly cook all poultry and meat products
-food handlers with salmonella or diarrhoea and/or vomiting should not be at work


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