Salmonellosis is caused by infection with bacteria called Salmonella. In Australia, most Salmonella infections occur after eating contaminated food or sometimes after contact with another person with the infection. Safe food handling including thorough cooking of meat, poultry and eggs and good hand hygiene can prevent infection.
Salmonellosis is caused by infection with bacteria called Salmonella. In Australia, most Salmonella infections occur after eating contaminated food or sometimes after contact with another person with the infection.
People infected with Salmonella commonly develop headache, fever, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms often start 6-72 hours after infection. Symptoms usually last for 4-7 days, sometimes much longer.
Salmonella is mainly spread to humans when they eat under-cooked food made from infected animals (that is, meat, poultry, eggs, and their by-products). Spread by 'cross-contamination' occurs when Salmonella contaminates ready-to-eat food: for example, when food that will not be cooked further is cut with a contaminated knife or via the hands of an infected food handler. Salmonella can spread from person-to-person via the hands of an infected person. It can also be spread from animals to humans.
Anyone can get salmonellosis. Infants, the elderly, and people with poor immune systems, are more likely to have a severe illness.
Thorough cooking of food kills Salmonella. Avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry, or eggs. Poultry and meat - such as hamburgers, sausages, and rolled roasts - should not be eaten if pink in the middle.
Because Salmonella can be carried on the hands, it is very important to always wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet and before preparing food. Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 10 seconds, rinsed, and dried well. Particular attention should be given to the area under the fingernails and between fingers. Infected food handlers can shed large numbers of Salmonella. They should not handle or serve food until 48 hours after the diarrhoea has stopped.
Poor food storage can allow Salmonella to grow. Refrigerated food should be kept at less than five degrees Celsius. Hot foods should be kept hot at above 60 degrees Celsius. Reheated foods should be quickly reheated until all parts of the food are steaming hot. Thawing frozen foods should be done in a fridge or microwave. The longer you leave food at room temperature the more Salmonella can multiply.
To prevent the contamination of food:
To diagnose it, your general practitioner or local hospital will send a stool sample to a laboratory for Salmonella testing.
Most people recover with rest and fluids. Some people may require hospitalisation. Antibiotics are sometimes recommended in complicated cases.
Laboratories are required to notify cases of Salmonella infection to the local public health unit. The public health units investigate clusters of cases to try and identify common links. Where a common food is implicated the NSW Food Authority will undertake a further environmental investigation and initiate control measures. Statistics on cases are used to help develop prevention strategies.
The NSW Food Authority is responsible for a range of food safety strategies to prevent salmonellosis and other food borne infections.
Safe handling of fish and reptiles
For further information please call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055