A significant number of people in our region get food poisoning each year.
A significant number of people in our region get food poisoning each year. LarsZahnerPhotography

Oh crap! Food mistakes are poison for Gympie locals

POO-contaminated food, under-cooked meats and dodgy seafood are making hundreds of Gympie residents sick each year.

A special Gympie Times investigation reveals 7146 people across the Sunshine Coast-Gympie health district had food poisoning in the past five years.

Last year saw 1257 easily preventable cases of gastrointestinal disease including 764 reports of campylobacter, 95 of cryptosporidiosis and 310 cases of salmonella, Queensland Health notifiable disease data shows.

Most of these illnesses are caused by faeces-laden food or water, incorrectly prepared meats, bad seafood and questionable leftovers. Food poisoning costs the Australian economy $1.2billion a year. 

Disease expert Dr Vincent Ho urged locals to make simple changes in the kitchen to keep these diseases at bay.

"Anyone can get these types of infections but some people are more susceptible to them including the elderly, those with poor immune systems and those who are very sick," the University of Western Sydney academic said.

"In general campylobacter and salmonella can come from contact with different food but cryptosporidiosis is a bit different as it can be found in natural water sources like recreational water parks, rivers and areas where faecal matter is in the water.

"Infections can make you quite sick but people who are vulnerable can become extremely sick and die from the conditions."

Dr Ho said suggested these simple steps to avoid food poisoning:

Separate raw red meats, poultry and eggs from other foods;

Wash fruits and vegies before eating;

Use a separate cloth to dry dishes;

Avoid eating under-cooked meats;

Use different chopping boards for meats and other foods; and

Wash hands thoroughly.

"If you want to really reduce the likelihood of contamination wash your hands for at least 15 seconds," he said.

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service public health physician Dr Andrew Langley said each case of a notifiable condition was cause for "some concern, particularly if there are simple and effective ways to prevent the condition or the case is severely ill".

"Although we would prefer that no cases of salmonella, campylobacter and cryptosporidiosis occur, we get particularly concerned when there are more reported cases than we would expect for the season, place and group of people, or if cases seem to be more severe than usual," Dr Langley said. -NewsRegional


Raw and under-cooked meat can make you sick.
Raw and under-cooked meat can make you sick. fotek


Gastrointestinal disease notifications across Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service region in 2018

Campylobacter, 764

Cholera, 0

Ciguatera, 0

Cryptosporidiosis, 95

Hepatitis A, 2

Hepatitis E, 0

HUS, 0

Listeriosis, 1

Paratyphoid, 0

Salmonellosis, 310

Shigellosis, 20

Typhoid, 0

Yersiniosis, 61

Shiga toxin-producing E.coli, 4

TOTAL, 1257