CHO Health Alert - Gastroenteritis related to back yard chickens

26 June, 2020

Status: Active

Date issued: 26 June 2020

Issued by: Professor Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer, Victoria

Issued to: Health professionals and consumers

Key messages

  • The department is investigating 9 cases of gastroenteritis caused by the bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis. These cases became sick between late April to the end of May. 
  • Salmonella Enteritidis is not usually found in Australia and typically acquired overseas. However, the recent cases acquired their infections locally. 
  • Symptoms of the illness include diarrhoea, fever, headache, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. It can be a serious infection especially in the young, the elderly and those with medical conditions which weaken their immune system. Hospitalisation may be required in some cases.
  • Investigations so far have not identified any common source, but the majority of cases have had contact with, or consumed eggs from backyard chickens. 
  • Chickens can make great pets, but it is important to wash hands after handling them and after collecting their eggs. If you have back yard chickens, it is important to learn how to look after them properly and also how to protect yourself and your family from becoming sick. Purchase vaccinated back yard chickens from a reliable commercial source. See the Better Health Channel website for further information.
  • Salmonella can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of food containing raw eggs such as homemade mayonnaise and uncooked cake batter. Eggs should be thoroughly cooked until they are hot all the way through, especially when serving to, infants, the elderly and anyone with a medical condition which impairs the immune system.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is following up all notified cases of Salmonella Enteritidis and working closely with Agriculture Victoria and the Chief Veterinary Officer to manage the infection in these chickens.

Read the full advisory: Gastroenteritis related to back yard chickens