Bad chicken blamed for food poisoning outbreak
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A batch of dodgy chicken is responsible for an outbreak of food poisoning in the North.
Queensland Health has issued a warning after an increase in the number of campylobacter cases in Townsville and Cairns.
As of Saturday, there were 82 cases reported in Townsville, 65 in Cairns and 22 in Mackay.
This is more than double the amount reported in recent months across the region.
The illness, caused by a bacteria, has been linked to batches of raw chicken, suggesting many victims have not been cooking or preparing poultry properly.
A department spokesman ruled out the possibility of the suspicious chicken being sold through restaurants or fast-food eateries.
"The link was made because our public health doctors know what bacteria causes campylobacter and where the bacteria was found," he said.
Campylobacter is a common cause of food poisoning and diarrhoea, often associated with chicken or other meat.
The bacteria can cause gastroenteritis or food poisoning, ranging from very mild to severe cases.
Typical sources of the bacteria include poorly cooked meat, unchlorinated water, foods contaminated by raw meat, sick pets and unpasteurised milk.
The most common symptoms of the bacteria include diarrhoea, stomach cramps, fever, nausea and vomiting.
Public health medical officer Dr Richard Gair urged North Queenslanders to maintain good food hygiene to avoid becoming infected.
"Make sure you wash your hands after going to the toilet and before preparing or eating food," he said.
"If you handle raw poultry, make sure you wash your hands before handling any other fresh food.
"Raw vegetables should always be washed before use and hot food should be kept hot, while cold food should be kept cold before consumption."
Other tips include: keeping all kitchen and barbecue surfaces and equipment clean; avoiding raw meat or chicken touching other foods at any stage; wash tongs, knives and cutting boards between using them for raw foods and cooked or ready-to-eat foods; freezing chicken.
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Source: The Townsville Bulletin, 15 February 2012
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