Salmonella outbreak traced to Central Queensland
FOUR children across Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service have this afternoon been identified as individuals caught up in the state's increasing number of salmonella cases.
Concern was today raised after it was revealed 17 new cases of the disease had been diagnosed across the state, with 13 of those children aged 11 years or younger.
Central Queensland Public Health Unit acting director Dr Margaret Young confirmed four youngsters, three of whom were aged 5 years or younger, had contracted the illness from chicks over the past two months.
She further revealed two of the children required a period of hospitalisation, however added all confirmed cases had since recovered.
All four scares are also confirmed not to be related.
"Note that poultry are a known source of salmonella, especially chicks," Dr Young said.
"These cases highlight the prevention messages given in the statewide media release provided. "Children's contact with animals should be supervised to reduce the risk of infection."
Queensland Health earlier today responded to the spate of diagnosed cases, saying a series of investigations were underway following an outbreak of infections in mostly young children linked to contact with backyard poultry.
Dr Alun Richards, acting executive director of the Communicable Diseases Branch, said a large number of the 17 cases had been traced to the handling of chicks purchased in the two-week period prior to illness.
"Backyard poultry can harbour and shed Salmonella that cause illness in humans, even though the birds are healthy and clean," Dr Richards.
"These chicks have been obtained from a range of produce and pet stores in Queensland."
Investigations into the supplier of chicks to these stores remain ongoing.
HOW TO AVOID GETTING SICK
Medical experts suggest the following measures should be taken to ensure the public stays safe from Salmonella.
•Always wash your hands with soap and running water immediately after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, their enclosures, or anything in the area where they live and roam.
•Use hand sanitiser if soap and water are not readily available.
•Adults should always supervise children around poultry and ensure they wash their hands afterwards.
•Do not let children snuggle or kiss the birds, touch their mouth, or eat or drink around poultry.
•Do not let poultry inside the house.