Salmonella

Salmonella is the second most common cause of bacterial foodborne illness in New Zealand. Find out about its effects and how it is spread.


There are many different kinds of Salmonella, with different sources and severity of illness.

Salmonella causes salmonellosis and is the second most common bacterial cause of foodborne illness in New Zealand. It occurs both in single, sporadic cases and in outbreaks from a common source. These may be food related.

MPI is continuing to investigate sources, pathways, foods, and handling processes that cause salmonellosis.

Sources of contamination

You can come into contact with Salmonella through contaminated food, water, or contact with infected animals.

Salmonella live in the gut of many farm animals and can contaminate meat, eggs, poultry, and milk. Other foods like green vegetables, fruit, and shellfish can become contaminated through contact with wildlife or untreated human and animal waste.

Symptoms and effects

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

However, the diarrhoea may be so severe for some people that they need to be hospitalised. For these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other parts of the body.

In rare cases, it may cause long-term consequences such as reactive arthritis. It can be fatal, but deaths are rare.

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