Cake, cows hazards to our health

Chocolate mousse can make you sick, with an outbreak of salmonella in Geraldine infecting 21 people.

The outbreak was caused by two chocolate mousse cakes, according to the September and October statistics from Community and Public Health. There was also a high number of campylobacter and cryptosporidiosis cases, medical officer of health Dr Daniel Williams said.

"There has been an outbreak of salmonellosis in the district linked to consumption of chocolate mousse cake containing uncooked egg whites. Twenty-one people in two different groups became sick after eating the cakes.

"Food safety procedures have been reviewed with the food premises where the cakes were produced.

"Of the 21 people, 10 were laboratory confirmed cases, four of which were residents in the Timaru district and the other six reside throughout New Zealand. The other 11 people were considered probable cases because they ate the mousse cake and developed symptoms. This figure was not included in the table because they were not laboratory confirmed."

In September and October, 21 cases of campylobacter were recorded in South Canterbury and 28 cases of cryptosporidiosis.

"Many of these cases are people who live in rural areas and are associated with the dairy industry.

"Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite found in the gut of many animals both wild and domestic. People become infected when the parasites are swallowed. This may be from contaminated water or more usually from direct contact with infected animals."

The illnesses could be threatening to those with a weakened immune system.

"Toddlers on farms are particularly at risk. Although it can be difficult, children should be supervised to prevent them swallowing infected material.

"The best protection for people who are in close contact with animals is thorough hand washing using plenty of soap, cleaning under finger nails, rinsing hands and drying on a clean towel."

Symptoms were diarrhoea, stomach cramps, loss of appetite and weight loss and the illness could last for two weeks or more.

"Cryptosporidium is resistant to chlorine and can survive swimming pool disinfection treatment; sufferers must not swim in a pool until at least two weeks after symptoms have gone."

The Timaru Herald