UPDATE – The infection has been tracked to Piccalilli Catering, which has blamed a bad batch of eggs used in products provided to Melbourne Cup functions.

A Brisbane catering company is thought to be responsible for a widespread outbreak of Salmonella poisoning that has been linked to the death of a 77-year-old woman. At least 220 people have fallen ill after attending catered Melbourne Cup functions last week found to have salmonella-infected food.

On Friday 15 November, Metro North Hospital and Health Service confirmed that one more patient has been linked overnight (Thursday) to the Salmonella outbreak, bringing the total of people hospitalised to eight (including the deceased).

None of the patients’ conditions are considered life-threatening.

Director of Metro North Public Health Unit, Doctor Susan Vlack, said salmonella was possibly a contributing factor to the woman’s death and that investigations are continuing.

“The Metro North Public Health Unit is managing the investigation and responding to the series of outbreaks across up to 40 different Melbourne Cup functions,” Dr Vlack said.

“The exact source of the salmonella is yet to be determined, but is associated with the one caterer providing food at the affected functions.

“We have written to all companies and private function coordinators who used this caterer, advising them of the situation, and providing information for all attendees about the importance of careful personal hygiene to limit spread.

“It has been stressed that they need to report to us if they experience sickness, particularly if they are health workers or work in handling food.

“Symptoms to be aware of include fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

“They usually develop 6-72 hours after exposure to the bacteria but sometimes up to two weeks, and last between four and seven days.”

Salmonella can spread to humans via contaminated food, such as meat, poultry, eggs and their by-products. Most people recover with rest and fluids. It may cause severe illness in young children, older people and in the immuno-suppressed.