Fearnley E, Lal A, Bates J, Stafford R, Kirk M, Glass K. Salmonella source attribution in a subtropical state of Australia: capturing environmental reservoirs of infection. Epidemiology & Infection, 146(15):1903-1908. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268818002224
Salmonellosis is a leading cause of hospitalisation due to gastroenteritis in Australia. A previous source attribution analysis for a temperate state in Australia attributed most infections to chicken meat or eggs. Queensland is in northern Australia and includes subtropical and tropical climate zones. We analysed Queensland notifications for salmonellosis and conducted source attribution to compare reservoir sources with those in southern Australia. In contrast to temperate Australia, most infections were due to non-Typhimurium serotypes, with particularly high incidence in children under 5 years and strong seasonality, peaking in summer. We attributed 65.3% (95% credible interval (CrI) 60.6–73.2) of cases to either chicken meat or eggs and 15.5% (95% CrI 7.0–19.5) to nuts. The subtypes with the strongest associations with nuts were Salmonella Aberdeen, S. Birkenhead, S.Hvittingfoss, S. Potsdam and S. Waycross. All five subtypes had high rates of illness in children under 5 years (ranging from 4/100 000 to 23/100 000), suggesting that nuts may be serving as a proxy for environmental transmission in the model. Australia’s climatic range allows us to conduct source attribution in different climate zones with similar food consumption patterns. This attribution provides evidence for environment-mediated transmission of salmonellosis in sub-tropical regions.