Mackay Hospital and Health Services has detailed the cause of hundreds of stomach bugs in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region over the past 12 months.
Mackay Hospital and Health Services has detailed the cause of hundreds of stomach bugs in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region over the past 12 months.

Cause of 550+ gastro cases across Mackay, Whitsunday region

Mackay residents were left with queasy stomachs, dashing to the loo and clutching sick bags as 550 cases of gastrointestinal diseases were detected last year.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service has detailed the cause of hundreds of stomach bugs in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region over the past 12 months.

From New Year's Day to December 20, there were 551 cases of gastrointestinal diseases across the health service, with the two bugs alone the cause of 80 per cent of all cases.

Environmental health team leader Andrew Jones said the two most common foodborne illnesses were campylobacter and salmonella.

Hospital data reported that salmonella infection rates jumped by 20 per cent in 2020, with 185 cases in the health service.

There were 154 cases over the same period in 2019.

The bacterial cause of gastro, campylobacter, was detected 274 times last year.

This was a slight improvement from the gastro rates from the previous year, with 49 fewer people coming down with the stomach bug.

Environmental health team leader Andrew Jones said the two most common foodborne illnesses were campylobacter and salmonella. Picture: Thinkstock.
Environmental health team leader Andrew Jones said the two most common foodborne illnesses were campylobacter and salmonella. Picture: Thinkstock.

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Mr Jones urged household chefs to keep themselves and their families safe by cooking food thoroughly.

"Foodborne illnesses vary in severity with people usually experiencing diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or a fever," Mr Jones said.

"Most people recover within a few days with rest and fluids but food poisoning can make you seriously ill, and can be fatal in some cases."

He said contamination could also occur when food was handled or processed by people with unclean hands, was processed with equipment that was not clean, or was cross contaminated by other food.

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"Hygiene is important. Thoroughly wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after handling raw poultry," Mr Jones said.

The hospital data said the rate of disease spread through faecal matter cryptosporidiosis, a disease spread by faecal matter, had almost doubled.

In 2020 there were 66 confirmed cases of cryptosporidiosis, which causes watery diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

Over the same period in 2019 there were only 29 cases.

Queensland Health said crypto cases were most common with children under 10 years, and were easily transmitted in settings such as day care centres or petting zoos.

Gastrointestinal diseases January 1 to December 20, 2020

Campylobacter: 274

Cryptosporidiosis: 66

Salmonellosis: 185

Shingellosis: 2

Yersiniosis: 22

Shiga toxin-producing E.coli: 2


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