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Stomach bug explosion in WA

Many of WA’s stomach bug illnesses, more than 4000 cases so far this year and counting, have been caused by food.

New figures show 4076 cases of gastrointestinal disease have been reported this year, up 31% on the same time in the previous two years. The bacterial or viral infections have been caused by contaminated food and water or poor hygiene. Much of the surge has been fuelled by a rise in salmonella, with many of the 1566 cases this year associated with eating uncooked eggs.

Cryptosporidiosis, which is caused by a parasite, has been reported in 335 people which is more than double the number at the same time last year. A WA Health Department spokeswoman said though notifications of salmonella gastroenteritis were declining as expected over winter, the increased levels were of concern.

“The department is concerned about food-borne illness rates in WA, including salmonella risks associated with eggs, and is implementing short and long-term reduction strategies,” she said. The department and local government authorities were focusing on safety surveillance across the food industry, from paddock to plate. “Eggs are a good source of nutrition, but like many other foods they can be contaminated with bacteria, including salmonella. It is important people handle and prepare eggs safely to reduce the food poisoning risk.”

Australian Medical Association WA president Dr Omar Khorshid said it was critical people were not complacent about food safety.

“Salmonella should be completely preventable because it is destroyed by cooking and one of the biggest sources of it in the community is poultry products,” he said. “Eggs can harbour salmonella, and while eating raw eggs can be dangerous for anyone, it is particularly so for people with impaired immunity and pregnant women.”


Source : The West Australian, 18 July 2017