Date: Wed 19 Jun 2019
Source: ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) News, Central Coast [edited]
The poultry industry on the New South Wales central coast is on high alert after the detection of a rare strain of salmonella on 3 egg farms.
The outbreak has so far affected 11 properties in NSW [New South Wales] and Victoria since last year , and has sparked numerous supermarket egg recalls during that time.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries [DPI] said all affected properties were linked through the movement of people, eggs, or equipment.
The salmonella were detected at one Mangrove Mountain property in March , and another 2 in May .
It is understood thousands of chickens and eggs were destroyed and there was no risk to public health.
Raw eggs contain salmonella but the bacteria are killed when an egg is properly cooked.
A NSW DPI spokesman said strict bio-security measures had been stepped up across the central coast plateau, including enhanced monitoring and surveillance activities.
The response to prevent the potential spread of the bacteria has been unsettling for a region devastated by a major outbreak of Newcastle disease 2 decades ago.
In 1999, nearly 2 million chickens were slaughtered, and the entire ridge quarantined to eradicate the virus. Pet birds were included in the mass cull and it took more than 10 years for the local industry to get back on its feet.
Central coast farmers said while the salmonella outbreak was nothing like the Newcastle disease emergency, it had made "everyone nervous".
The egg industry's peak body Australian Eggs said the impact on farmers could not be underestimated.
"Some of the farms on the central coast were not the largest farms in the industry, so I'm sure it was a significant number of birds but not the largest by any means ... you can only imagine that's had an enormous impact on the farms affected," Australian Eggs managing director Rowan McMonnies said.
He sent a warning to all local farmers that "the threat is very real".
"I encourage other egg farms to assume their neighbours have been impacted even if they haven't, to ensure at the end of the day they're going to be protected. It's a new challenge for some parts of the egg industry but at the same time I think it's a necessary one."
The NSW Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch said the Newcastle disease emergency had prepared local producers well for any bio-security threat.
She said she was happy with how the situation had been handled. "Our security measures are in place and the communications are all there and the farmers have been co-operating very closely with the Department of Primary Industries about bio-security and awareness conversations and prevention and risk management," Ms Tesch said.
"We haven't had any recalls in our community ... we've had no health impacts."
Australian Eggs estimated the overall salmonella outbreak had cost the industry tens of millions of dollars, with the financial burden placed solely on farmers.
While the central coast's major chicken processors stressed the bacterium was only confined to the egg industry, they introduced what has been described as extraordinary precautions to safeguard their businesses.
They have told the ABC even stricter bio-security measures should be enforced. "Some parties are suggesting [stricter bio-security] should be considered but as it stands there are many, many risks in egg farming and this is one of them and it's falling on industry to manage it," Mr McMonnies said.
Australian Eggs was quietly confident the outbreak had been stabilised but said it may never be known how the bacterial strain got into Australia in the first place.
"Stabilising it is a huge achievement," Mr McMonnies said. "We now have to ensure it stays stable and through that work towards eradication, no set timeframe but it's generally not going to be as quick as anyone would like." [Byline: Mary-Louise Vince]
[Chickens and other poultry (ducks, turkeys) can carry germs like _Salmonella_. After you touch a bird, or anything in the area where birds live and roam, wash your hands so you don't get sick!
"Poultry might have _Salmonella_ bacteria in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks), even when they appear healthy and clean. The bacteria can get on cages, coops, feed and water dishes, hay, plants, and soil in the area where the birds live and roam. Germs also can get on the hands, shoes, and clothes of people who handle or care for poultry."
"People can be infected with _Salmonella_ bacteria when they put their hands or equipment that has been in contact with poultry, in or around their mouth. Children younger than 5 years are more likely to get sick because their immune systems are still developing, and they are more likely to put their fingers and other objects into their mouths.
"People can also get sick without actually touching a bird. Germs on your hands can spread easily to other people or surfaces. That's why it's important to wash hands immediately with soap and water after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
- Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Egg dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 deg F (71 deg C) or hotter.
- Make sure that foods that contain raw or lightly cooked eggs, such as hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, and tiramisu, are made only with pasteurized eggs.
- Eat or refrigerate eggs and foods containing eggs promptly after cooking. Do not keep eggs or foods made with eggs warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the temperature is 90 deg F (32 deg C) or hotter.
Adults older than 65 years, children younger than 5 years, and people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or an organ transplant, may get a more serious illness that can even be life threatening.
In most cases, illness lasts 4-7 days and people recover without antibiotic treatment. Symptoms include: diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps
Symptoms typically appear 6 to 48 hours after eating a contaminated food, though this period is sometimes much longer. Some people can have diarrhea many times a day for several days and the sick person may need to be hospitalized. (<https://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellapoultry/index.html
Vaccination as part of a _Salmonella_ control program contributes to the achievement of _Salmonella_ free poultry meat and eggs. Live and inactivated _Salmonella_ vaccines are available.
Vaccination against _Salmonella_ protects chickens from:
- infection or re-infection through vermin and the environment;
- infection from contaminated feed;
- spread of an undetected infection;
- spread of infection in the hatchery, mainly in the hatchers. The offspring of vaccinated birds are protected by maternal antibodies;
- spread of infection in a flock where a few chickens are not protected.
This a very serious disease for the birds and for the producers. There is nothing quite as heartbreaking as watching your animals euthanized because of a disease. In the cause of poultry producers, it is their livelihood. It can also be deadly to consumers.
Don't track it back!!
Biosecurity is extremely important. Don't visit poultry farms, and if you must, then disinfect your boots, gloves, and aprons prior to entering the premises and again on exiting the premises. It may also mean washing your vehicle and especially disinfecting the tires. Wash your hands before entering the premises, between barns or yards, and after leaving. Wash and disinfect any equipment you may have taken into the premises with you, or that you take off of the premises.
Do not add birds at this time! If you must depopulate a barn or premises, then be sure it is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, including airducts in some facilities, prior to restocking.
We wish these producers the best and hope the outbreak is over very quickly. - ProMED Mod.TG]
[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of New South Wales, Australia: