Salmonella is a bacterium which causes an infection of the bowel. In New Zealand outbreaks of the disease are common.   Doctors are legally required to notify the Public Health Service of cases of salmonella disease under the Health Act 1956.

 In the Nelson Marlborough district around 30 cases of salmonella disease are notified each year. The highest number of cases notified is in young children.

Symptoms

The disease may cause abdominal pains, diarrhoea, fever, nausea (a feeling of sickness) and vomiting. People usually get sick 12–36 hours after ingesting (swallowing) the salmonella bacteria and these symptoms usually last for 3 – 5 days.

Contact your GP or Healthline (0800 611 116) for further advice.

How is it spread?

Salmonella disease is often foodborne but it may also be passed onto people through drinking contaminated water or direct contact with animals. Common ways people get the disease are:

  • eating food prepared by a person who has the disease
  • contact with people who have the disease including children and babies
  • contact with farm animals and pets
  • handling raw chicken or meat or drinking raw milk
  • drinking contaminated water

Salmonella usually results from:

  • poor food preparation
  • poor food handling practices
  • poor personal hygiene, or
  • a combination of the above

Prevention

Wash your hands:

  • after going to the toilet or changing nappies
  • before preparing or handling food
  • after handling raw poultry or meat
  • after touching animals

Be careful:

  • with food preparation and storage. Keep hot food, hot and cold food, cold
  • keep poultry and meat products refrigerated
  • don’t handle food if you have diarrhoea
  • avoid drinking water directly from rivers, streams and creeks

 People should remain away from work, school, preschool/childcare for 48 hours after symptoms have gone.

If your job involves preparing food in a business then you are required by law to remain off work until you have been cleared of the disease by your doctor.