Beach playgrounds closed after 23 Sydney toddlers stricken with Salmonella

Children’s playgrounds have been shut on Sydney’s northern beaches after a rare form of salmonella normally linked to tropical fish made dozens of toddlers seriously ill.

Authorities are now trying to figure out how sand used in at least two popular kids’ playgrounds has become contaminated.

The rare bacteria strain – salmonella paratyphi bio var java – has been linked to 23 cases of children struck down with severe vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain.

Tests have revealed the sand at both the Winnererremy Bay and South Avalon playgrounds are contaminated.

But health officials cannot rule out other playgrounds along the peninsula being affected. They are waiting for test results on other play areas.

Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service’s public health physician Michael Staff said,

"In the past there have been cases of humans becoming sick from it when they have contact with their tropical fish tanks. But to our knowledge this is the first time in Australia a playground has been shut because salmonella is in the sand."

The source of the contamination is not known, but the pathogen is generally carried by certain species of birds and aquarium fish.