High rates of diarrhoea and vomiting

1 April 2016

Higher than usual rates of diarrhoea and vomiting are being reported at the moment according to Hauora Tairāwhiti Medical Officer of Health Dr Margot McLean.  In particular salmonella rates are high but there are also more cases of giardia than usual.

Public Health are interviewing all people notified with these illnesses to try and find a reason for the increase. People with salmonella are being interviewed to try and find the source. Two separate strains of salmonella are causing most of the cases.  

Salmonella bacteria live in the gut of many farm animals and can contaminate meat, eggs, poultry and milk. Other foods like green vegetables, fruit and shellfish can become contaminated through contact with wildlife, untreated human and animal waste, unclean water, and through food being prepared or handled by an infected food handler.

Salmonella causes stomach pain and cramp that can be quite severe, diarrhoea, fever, headache and vomiting. Usually symptoms get better on their own in two to five days. It is important to drink plenty of fluids. Some people especially young children can become very unwell and need to go to hospital because they are dehydrated.

Dr McLean advises that if anyone is experiencing these symptoms they should contact their doctor or seek advice from Heathline 0800 611 116 (free advice from trained registered nurses.)

“Washing your hands is one of the best ways to prevent harmful bugs from spreading.  People should always wash their hands after handling raw meat and poultry, going to the toilet, changing nappies, handling  animals or gardening."

Salmonella is the second commonest cause of bacterial foodborne illness in New Zealand.  Foodborne diseases are more common in summer and people need to be especially aware of the extra care they should take with the food they prepare and eat.  Tips for preparing food safely can be found at on the Ministry for Primary Industries website