Foodborne illness strikes one a day
Almost one person a day was struck down by gut-twisting campylobacteriosis in the MidCentral District Health Board region last month.
It is the most common foodborne illness in New Zealand, and is most often contracted from poultry meat, unpasteurised milk and untreated drinking water. The Public Health Surveillance reported 27 cases of campylobacteriosis in the MidCentral region in September.
During the same period the Waikato District Health Board region had the highest number of reported cases with 86, and the Whanganui District Health Board region had the lowest, with five.
In August MidCentral had 19 reported cases, while in July there were 31, and in June there were 17.
Massey University EpiLab laboratory manager and research officer Julie Collins-Emerson said campylobacteriosis tended to be seasonal, with an increased chance of contracting the disease during the summer.
Warmer temperatures increased the rate at which bacteria can multiply, she said.
"There are different strains of campylobacter and some of those are present in the environment all the time and others are more seasonal," she said. "We tend to get higher numbers of campylobacteriosis cases during the summer time because it can be associated with food, for example under-cooked chicken or cross contamination in the kitchen."
"You might have raw chicken juices dripping and people might not notice it, and it could result in cross-contaminating your vegetables."
Dr Collins-Emerson said campylobacteriosis can also be contracted in the rural sector during calving or by children handling animals.
"There is a lot of hand-to-mouth behaviour in young children so they're at higher risk of picking it up from the environment," she said.
"You do get quite high numbers in the environment, however not all pose a risk to human health. So just because there are high numbers doesn't mean all strains are a risk to people."
Dr Collins-Emerson said good hygiene and good cooking are the best ways to guard against the disease.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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