Friday 19 January 2018

At least 50 sick from food poisoning that might have killed mum Sandra

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

At least 50 people are known to have fallen ill from a salmonella outbreak which may also have caused the death of a woman in her 50s.

The HSE confirmed the investigation into the outbreak in north Dublin has found four children are among the victims.

Sandra Murphy O'Brien died after attending one of the functions, celebrating a First Communion, at the centre of the investigation.

The Food Safety Authority placed a closure order on the kitchen of O'Dwyers's pub, Strand Road, Portmarnock, in north Dublin. The probe is focusing on a catering company named Flanreil Food Services Ltd, based in north Dublin and which was operating out of the kitchen at the pub. A source said the cause of the outbreak had not yet been identified.

Dr Kevin Kelleher, the HSE's National Director for Public Health, said it is believed that the cause of the problem was poultry.

The HSE said yesterday it was aware of more than 50 people who became ill from a number of separate groups of family parties supplied by the north Dublin food business on Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14.

Sandra Murphy O’Brien died after attending one of the functions, celebrating a First Communion, at the centre of the investigation
Sandra Murphy O’Brien died after attending one of the functions, celebrating a First Communion, at the centre of the investigation

To date, five people have been admitted to hospital and 16 of the 50 have been confirmed as salmonella cases.

A spokeswoman said the first cases of food poisoning were notified to the HSE on Thursday, May 18. Flanreil Food Services was identified as the common link in this outbreak.

"The investigation is focused on this business. A closure order was served on the food business on Friday May 19," the spokeswoman said.

She said the investigation was ongoing and included further examination of the food business operation and food served and assessment of the information from those who fell ill and other guests who consumed food.

"Members of the public should contact their GP if they have any concerns regarding their health.

"People who think they may be ill as a result of this outbreak may also contact the HSE's Environmental Health Service or Department of Public Health in Dublin to assist in the investigation of this outbreak."

She is understood not to have been suffering any underlying health conditions at the time of her death.

Salmonella bacteria live in the gut of many farm animals and can affect meat, eggs, poultry and milk.

Other foods like green vegetables, fruit and shellfish can become contaminated through contact with manure in the soil or sewage in the water.

Contamination is also possible if raw and cooked foods are stored together.

It is impossible to tell from its appearance whether food is contaminated with salmonella. It will look, smell and taste normal.

The advice is to wash hands:

  • before preparing and eating food;
  • after handling raw food;
  • after going to the toilet or changing a baby's nappy;
  • after contact with pets and other animals, especially reptiles and amphibians;
  • after working in the garden.
  • Keep cooked food away from raw food.
  • Store raw foods below cooked or ready-to-eat foods in the fridge.

Warm weather increases risk of food illness

The warmer weather usually leads to a rise in cases of salmonella.

Salmonella bacteria can cause food poisoning.

Anyone can get salmonella, but young children, the elderly and people who have immune systems that are weakened are at greater risk of becoming severely ill.

Symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sometimes vomiting and fever.

On average, it takes from 12 to 72 hours for the symptoms to develop after swallowing an infectious dose of salmonella.

Symptoms usually last for four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.

Someone who becomes seriously ill may need hospital care because the dehydration caused by the illness can be life-threatening.

Irish Independent

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