Australian school principals hit by salmonella poisoning

Salmonella bacteria from Shutterstock
Salmonella bacteria from Shutterstock

In a food poisoning outbreak more than 170 school principals and officials became ill after attending a conference in Brisbane last Thursday and Friday (26,27 February).

Poorly cooked meat, poultry and eggs

It is likely that they are suffering from salmonella poisoning and twenty four people have been admitted to hospital. Queensland Health is collaborating with the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre to try and pinpoint the cause of the problem.

Salmonella poisoning is usually caused by poorly cooked meat, poultry and eggs. It can be caused by person-too-person contact but because of the high numbers of people involved it is likely that it was caused by food.

Read: Hundreds of school children suffer from food poisoning

This is one of the largest cases of food poisoning ever in Queensland. Salmonella poisoning causes fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration.

Watch: a media conference by Dr Jeanette Young, Queensland Chief Health Officer, on the food poisoning outbreak.

The conference was attended by 1 200 delegates.

According to Dr Owen Wiese from Health24, salmonella infections are fairly common and are caused by contaminated food. It becomes problematic once a number of people have been infected and may even cause an outbreak.

Infected persons usually develop  diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting and fever. The symptoms typically start within 12 to 72 hours of infection and last between four and seven days. Treatment is usually symptomatic, but with significant diarrhoea a patient can easily dehydrate. In severe cases hospitalisation might be indicated to treat dehydration. Antibiotics are indicated when systemic involvement is suspected.

Dangers of load shedding and blackouts

The current load shedding and subsequent blackouts in South Africa could increase the risk of food spoilage and salmonella outbreaks. The Western Cape Health Department has therefore asked residents to be careful of eating spoiled food.

Food doesn't always smell bad when going off, and eating spoiled food can be very dangerous.

"We encourage the public to make arrangements not to consume food that became too warm, and to sterilise food containers such as baby bottles ahead of time to prevent diarrhoea," spokesperson for the Western Cape Health Department Mark van der Heever told Health24.

Read more:

Prevention of food poisoning

Load shedding sparks food poisoning fear

Salmonella outbreaks on the rise

Image: Salmonella bacteria from Shutterstock

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