Salmonella

Salmonella is the second most common cause of bacterial foodborne illness in New Zealand. Find out about how it is spread and its effects on humans.

There are many different kinds of Salmonella with different sources and severity of illness.

About salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is caused by Salmonella. It is the second most common bacterial cause of foodborne illness in New Zealand. It occurs both in single, sporadic cases and in outbreaks from a common source. These may be food related.

Sources of contamination

You can come into contact with Salmonella through contaminated food, water or contact with infected animals.

Salmonella 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 or untreated human and animal waste.

Symptoms and effects

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most recover without treatment. However, the diarrhoea may be so severe for some people that they need to be hospitalised. For these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and then to other parts of the body. In rare cases, it may cause long-term consequences such as reactive arthritis. It can be fatal, but deaths are fortunately rare.