Salmonella, a name that often elicits fear in those who have encountered its unwelcome presence, is a well-known term. But what precisely is salmonella, and how does it manifest in various forms? This article is our hope to break down the plethora of salmonella types, the incidence across different states, common sources of infection, affected age groups, and the proactive measures undertaken by Sanikleen Group Australia (SGA) to mitigate salmonella infections.
Diverse Salmonella: Over 2500 Types & Counting
Salmonella, a member of the Enterobacteriaceae family, is a bacterium notorious for causing foodborne illnesses. Its remarkable diversity is a notable characteristic, with over 2500 distinct serovars identified to date. These serovars can be broadly categorized into two groups: Typhoidal and non-typhoidal.
1. Typhoidal Salmonella: This category comprises serovars such as Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi, known for causing systemic infections like typhoid and paratyphoid fevers. These diseases are frequently linked to contaminated water and inadequate sanitation, making them more prevalent in regions with limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities.
2. Non-Typhoidal Salmonella: The majority of salmonella infections fall under this category, featuring serovars like Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium. These bacteria typically result in gastrointestinal illnesses and are often transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food, particularly poultry and eggs.
However, a distinct difference exists between serovars. S. bongori primarily infects cold-blooded animals, while S. enterica can infect a variety of warm-blooded animals, including humans, making it a more common cause of human salmonella infections.
Regional Variations In Salmonella Incidence
Salmonella infections can occur anywhere, but their prevalence varies by region in Australia. Different states have unique median percentages of salmonella cases per population:
- Victoria (VIC): 4.7% of the population
- New South Wales (NSW): 5.8% of the population
- Queensland (QLD): 9.5% of the population
- Northern Territory (NT): 2.6% of the population
- Tasmania (TAS): 0.6% of the population
- South Australia (SA): 7.5% of the population
- Western Australia (WA): 7.5% of the population
These variations are influenced by factors such as population density, food handling practices, and the local food supply chain. Moreover, an article by Fearnley et al. (2018) and the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care (2023) suggest that subtropical states are more susceptible to salmonella.
Common Causes & Sources Of Salmonella
Salmonella infections are most frequently associated with the consumption of certain foods, with chicken and nuts being among the primary culprits. However, it’s essential to note that the sources of salmonella are not limited to these items. Contaminated raw eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, and under cooked meat are other common sources. Cross-contamination between raw and cooked foods, as well as improper food storage and handling, can also contribute to the spread of salmonella.
Age Groups At Risk
Salmonella infections can affect individuals of all ages, but certain age groups are more vulnerable. Infants, young children, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with chronic illnesses or undergoing chemotherapy, are at a higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms when infected with salmonella. However, healthy adults can also contract salmonella, experiencing mild to moderate symptoms like diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
In the realm of food safety and hygiene, SGA stands out as a trusted partner with a rich history of safeguarding food processing facilities against the threat of Salmonella. Their blend of experience, industry expertise, customized solutions, and a strong focus on education and innovation, along with the incorporation of Phageguard, positions them as a leader in ensuring that food products meet the highest safety standards, safeguarding both the industry and the consumers it serves. With SGA’s advanced technology and comprehensive approach, food processing facilities can rest assured that they are taking the necessary steps to prevent and combat Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens.
1. Fearnley EJ, Lal A, Bates J, Stafford R, Kirk MD, Glass K (2018). Salmonella source attribution in a subtropical state of Australia: capturing environmental reservoirs of infection. Epidemiology and Infection 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1017/S095026881800222 2.
2. Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, September 05, (2023) National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) public dataset – salmonella, https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/national-notifiable-diseases-surveillance-system-nndss-public-dataset-salmonella?language=en