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VIC salmonella outbreak: who's responsible?

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VIC salmonella outbreak: who's responsible?

There is debate and blame shifting in Victoria today over who is responsible for a Salmonella break out in Ballarat.

The Courier reported the outbreak yesterday, and it was initially believed to be caused by inappropriate meat handling at a restaurant.

But expert in infectious disease, Dr James Hurley has told The Courier this morning that such outbreaks could be the result of mistakes “further up the chain.”

It is believed 18 people were struck by the gastro-intestinal infection, which can initially cause symptoms similar to a stomach bug, and authorities are also investigating whether a man’s death was the result of the outbreak.

Those affected by the infection experience fevers, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting that can last about two days.

Most people recover from the infection within days, but it can have serious medical impacts for others, particularly those with auto-immune disorders or the elderly.

Hurley said when a salmonella outbreak is identified, the Health Department aims to locate the source by tracking down everyone affected.

“Even when they find the source, sometimes it can be from a supplier further up the chain,” he said.

In August the Unites States experienced the worst salmonella outbreak in its history when 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen turkey had to be recalled due to contamination in a processing factory.

In that case, one man was killed by the strain of the infection, and 79 others became ill.

Hurley said people can get salmonella from various sources.

“Firstly, we look at various food sources, but it can be acquired from pets and other unusual sources,” he said.

“Some foods are more of a concern than others, particularly chicken, meats, eggs and occasionally dairy products.”

While he said salmonella is “pretty uncommon,” Hurley noted that cases tended to see a sharp increase at this time of year.

“In the summer months it tends to become more common for a number of reasons; people are out and about, eating food they would not usually eat and they may not be thinking about washing their hands,” he said.

“If you think you might be ill, certainly consult your general practitioner to get the appropriate tests.”


 

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