Residents keeping chickens in their backyards have been warned to educate themselves about safe fowl handling practices.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued the warning last week, after being notified of nine cases of Salmonella Enteritidis within a two-month period.
The DHHS said it was working with Agriculture Victoria to investigate the cases, five of which occurred in people who had contact with backyard chickens or who ate eggs from household flocks.
Most of the people diagnosed live in separate households across Melbourne’s western and northern suburbs, with cases also in Gippsland and western Victoria.
Agriculture Victoria has also confirmed that Salmonella Enteritidis has been detected at a commercial egg farm, which is under quarantine.
It is understood end-of-lay chickens from this farm were sold to one of the affected backyard flocks.
Victoria’s deputy chief health officer, Dr Angie Bone, said people could be at risk of Salmonella infection if they did not wash their hands thoroughly after handling chickens or coming into contact with the birds’ environment, or if they ate raw or under-cooked eggs.
Dr Bone said people should discard cracked, damaged or heavily soiled eggs and clean lightly soiled eggs with a dry cloth or a tissue. Do not wash eggs with water, as this makes them porous and can enable bacteria on the surface to penetrate the shell.
Details: betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/Keeping Backyard Chickens or betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/Eggs