FOUR Tasmanians have been diagnosed with a type of salmonella which is killing Tasmania’s sparrows.
But health authorities today said the disease did not cause typhoid in humans.
Acting director of Public Health Chrissie Pickin yesterday advised Tasmanians to avoid contact with sparrow droppings, dead birds and birdbaths as a precaution as more research into the salmonella strain was conducted.
Dr Pickin said water tanks should be protected from sparrow droppings and anyone concerned that their drinking water had been contaminated should boil it before consuming.
Dr Pickin said salmonella thyphimurium, which an investigation by veterinarins, pathologists and the UTAS School of Medicine found was behind the deaths of large numbers of sparrows in Tasmania this winter, was a common type of salmonella which caused dairrrhoea, headcahes and vomiting.
Like any salmonella it will cause bigger health problems among the very old and the very young.
Dr Pickin said in the four human cases recorded this year, no link to sparrows had been found.
But she said investigations were continuing on the back of the new research.
Laboratory testing has revealed the new salmonella strain as the cause of mass sparrow deaths across Hobart.
Investigating vets have forwarded the findings to Tasmania’s health authorities and wildlife disease experts around Australia.
The strain of salmonella is called Salmonella typhimurium DT160.
The strain of the disease is new to Tasmania but has been detected in other parts of the world and has led to disease outbreaks in humans in Norway and New Zealand.
Report author David Obendorf, a veterinary pathologist, investigated the sparrow deaths with the help of Sandy Bay vet James Harris and the University of Tasmania Medical School.
Dr Obendorf said there was a risk the disease could be passed on to other wildlife, domestic pets, livestock and humans.
He has forwarded his findings to Tasmania’s Chief Veterinary Officer and the Director of Public Health.
“The concern is whether it’s going to move into other birds or do what happened in New Zealand, for example, and lead to a spike in human infections,” Dr Obendorf said.