Salmonella infections this year are more than double the level seen at the start of 2022, and one outbreak has occurred, linked to international travel.
It comes as last month’s recall of potentially infected chicken products continues, though health officials say no cases of salmonella are so far linked to this recall.
There were 39 cases of salmonellosis in the first five weeks of the year, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), compared with 18 in the same period last year. Six cases were recorded in the week up to February 4th.
One outbreak has been notified to the HPSC this year, involving fewer than five cases and associated with international travel, the Health Service Executive said.
Last month the Food Safety Authority ordered a recall of raw chicken products due to the possible presence of salmonella, and later extended the recall.
The products are being recalled by processor Western Brand and were on sale in Aldi, Lidl, Dunnes Stores and Tesco. Other products were sold under BWG’s Glenmore brand.
The affected products included chicken fillets, mini fillets and small chickens and had best before dates up to February 7th.
The recall was ordered after salmonella was found on eight poultry farms, necessitating the cull of more than 7,000 birds.
The HSE said that to date there have been no human cases of illness linked to this product recall, and therefore the HPSC has not been involved in the investigation into it.
On Friday, a spokeswoman for the Food Safety Authority said the food alert issued on February 3rd was still in place. “We have been liaising with the HPSC and to date there have been no confirmed cases of human illness linked to this investigation.”
People infected with salmonella typically develop symptoms 12-36 hours after infection. The most common symptom is diarrhoea, which can sometimes be bloody. Other symptoms may include fever, headache and abdominal cramps. The illness usually lasts four to seven days. Diarrhoea can occasionally be severe enough to require hospital admission.
Dublin singer and actor Gary Ó Nualláin has been describing this week how a bout of salmonella “almost killed” his father.
He said the other members of his family fell ill after eating a chicken takeaway dish. There is no indication it was linked to the product that featured in the authority’s recall.
After two days, the 64-year-old was “in bits” with a high fever and an ambulance was called.
“Paramedics arrived, and he could barely make his way out to the ambulance. His kidneys had completely shut down. They feared his liver had failed, and his bowel had perforated and turned necrotic.”
Mr Ó Nualláin’s father was moved to intensive care and stayed there for a week. “They confirmed it was salmonella poisoning. He responded well to the treatment initially but then it spread to his blood causing septicaemia, and it attacked all his organs.”
He has since been moved from ICU to the high-dependency unit, but remains very weak.
Writing on social media, Mr Ó Nualláin urged people with possible symptoms not to “take chances” and to seek medical attention if required.