West Australians are being warned to avoid eating raw or partly cooked eggs because of a surge in cases of salmonella food poisoning.
The WA Health Department said yesterday there had been 713 reported infections from salmonella typhimurium by the end of April, which was more than four times the usual number.
The infection was commonly associated with consumption of foods containing raw or under-cooked eggs.
A spokeswoman told Cathy O’Leary of The West Australian that cases of the salmonella infection had been increasing in WA since 2015 but had accelerated since late last year.
“There are two molecular subtypes, PFGE1 and PFGE43, that are currently causing most of this increase,” she said.
“Epidemiological evidence from investigations of identified localised outbreaks and a large case-control study of community cases indicates that eating raw or runny eggs is a significant cause of illness. This includes breakfast dishes containing eggs, and desserts and aioli made with raw eggs.”
Environmental investigations indicated some outbreaks had been caused by poor handling of egg products at the food manufacturing and preparation level and by consumers.
The department said that while eggs were a good source of vitamins and minerals, like many other foods they could be contaminated with bacteria, including salmonella. It was important to handle and prepare eggs safely to reduce the food poisoning risk.
“The department recommends that people don’t use cracked or dirty eggs in raw egg dishes,” she said.
“If possible, it is best to avoid any uncooked foods or dishes that contain raw egg.
“This is because it is impossible to guarantee the safety of eating raw eggs and dishes that contain unpasteurised raw egg products.”
A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.