Salmonella cases in Australia are on the rise and authorities have linked the outbreak to dirty eggs. In Queensland alone, 1,895 cases have already been recorded and the year's long way off.
Health officials have put this number as more than double the usual cases recorded for the same time in 2014, half of which were caused by a strain of salmonella typhimurium connected to chicken and egg products. Queensland Health's Sophie Dwyer said that the increased consumption of raw egg, poor hygiene standards and the use of dirty eggs have contributed to the increase in salmonella cases in Australia.
"We are seeing a wider range of products being produced in the home and restaurants that include raw eggs. Products like aioli, mayonnaise, mousse and tiramisu use raw eggs and therefore don't have a step that would kill any salmonella bacteria," she added.
According to Peter Collignon, a microbiologist from the Australian National University, 75 percent of cases of salmonella in the country are caused by eating or handling raw eggs. He said the problem in Australia is that not enough precautions are being made to prevent salmonella cases. In the United States, for instance, eggs are pasteurized to kill the bacteria. In the United Kingdom, pasteurized eggs are available throughout.
The salmonella bacteria thrives in fecal matter outside of an egg. An egg becomes contaminated when the shell is broken, allowing the bacteria to get inside. Sometimes, bug activity may also spread salmonella.
SA Health was also alarmed at the rising number of salmonella cases, releasing a statement reminding Australians to prepare food safely, most especially when partially cooked or raw eggs are being used.
"Cracked and dirty eggs are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella, so make sure you check them in the shop before you buy them," reminded Paddy Phillips, SA chief medical officer, adding hands must be washed after handling eggs to ensure the bacteria doesn't spread to other food in the kitchen.
Salmonella symptoms include abdominal cramps, fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which may manifest anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after exposure and last between three to seven days. Anyone can acquire salmonella but those at greater risk are pregnant women, older adults over 70 years old, children below two years old and those with weak immune systems. When symptoms appear, a trip to the doctor is advised.
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