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National Salmonella Outbreak

Media release

4 December 2008

National Salmonella outbreak

The Ministry of Health has been advised of an outbreak of Salmonella gastroenteritis due to a particular strain (Salmonella Typhimurium phage type 42).  Those infected have suffered from fever, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

Since October 13 a total of 36 cases have been identified from Dunedin (9), Christchurch (16), Nelson (5), Greymouth (1), Rotorua (1), Whakatane (1), Waikato (1) and Auckland (2).  In 2007 there were a total of 15 cases of this phage type and in 2006 28 cases.

"This is a significant outbreak affecting people in different parts of the country. The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) is co-ordinating a national investigation and working with public health units and the Food Safety Authority to investigate cases and identify a source of infection," says Dr Greg Simmons, Chief Advisor Population Health.  

"Symptoms usually last several days but the very young, the elderly and the immune compromised may become severely dehydrated.  Those with symptoms suggesting Salmonella infection should ensure a good intake of fluids and if symptoms persist or are severe, should consult their doctor. Good hand hygiene practice goes a long way towards preventing the spread of Salmonella infection."

Salmonella are bacteria that typically live in the gut of domestic and wild animals, including poultry, pigs, cattle, rodents and pets.  Common risk factors for infection in New Zealand include direct contact with farm animals and pets, drinking untreated water and overseas travel to countries with high rates of occurrence of the disease.  

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Preventing Salmonella transmission and infection

Food handlers with Salmonella infectionor diarrhoea and/or vomiting should be excluded from commercial kitchens until the infection has cleared.

Consumers with gastroenteritis should avoid preparing meals for others. If you must do so, care should be taken to ensure proper handwashing and to follow the four Cs - clean, cook, cover, chill.

wash hands after using the toilet (remember the 20+20 rule: 20 seconds to wash, plus 20 to dry on a clean towel or paper towels)
Salmonella can be passed from person to person and particular care with personal hygiene needs to be taken around infants with diarrhoea.

thoroughly cook food – cooking will kill any Salmonella that might have survived hand washing

cover foods to help prevent then becoming contaminated with Salmonella

 Salmonella thrive at room temperature - keep food very cold or very hot


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