Epidemiology and Infection

Salmonella Mississippi infections in Tasmania: the role of native Australian animals and untreated drinking water

R. ASHBOLT a1 and M. D. KIRK a2c1
a1 Public and Environmental Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services, PO Box 125, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
a2 Office of Health Protection, Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia

Article author query
ashbolt r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
kirk md   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Salmonella Mississippi infections are very common in Australia's island state – Tasmania – with an annual rate of 17 cases/100000 population. A case-control study conducted during 2001–2002 found single variable associations with indirect exposure to many native animal species, untreated drinking water, travelling within the state, hand–mouth behaviours and contact with pet faeces. No associations were detected with farm animal or pet species or with any food. Indirect contact with native birds, untreated drinking water and travel within the state remained significant predictors of infection in the final model with population attributable fractions of 0·57 and 0·54 for native animals and untreated drinking water respectively. In Tasmania, Australian wildlife species are the likely reservoir for S. Mississippi, contaminating land and water environments. To decrease infection rates requires treatment of water supplies, particularly private rainwater collection systems and advising people to wash their hands after being outdoors and prior to eating.

(Accepted February 21 2006)
(Published Online May 4 2006)

c1 Office of Health Protection, Department of Health and Ageing, MDP 15, GPO Box 9848, Canberra City, ACT 2601, Australia. (Email: martyn.kirk@health.gov.au)