Salmonella enteritidis


Salmonella enteritidis (SE) in poultry is restricted matter (category 1).

Under Queensland legislation, if you suspect the presence of this infection in poultry, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Emergency Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Salmonella enteritidis (SE) is a bacterial disease of poultry. It can cause foodborne illness in humans, such as gastroenteritis (commonly known as 'gastro') when contaminated food is consumed.

In poultry, the disease often goes unnoticed, but it can sometimes present clinically in birds as:

  • depression
  • poor growth
  • weakness
  • diarrhoea and dehydration.

Consuming uncooked or undercooked infected eggs can make people ill. Due to the high risk of it causing foodborne illness in humans, SE is a notifiable animal disease in Australia. This means that there is a legal obligation to notify Biosecurity Queensland if you know or suspect that poultry are infected with this disease.


Present in most international egg industries but, until recently, the Australian egg industry was considered free of SE. Cases of human illness in Australia was associated with people becoming infected with SE while overseas.

In 2018, human cases of SE were linked to eggs in Australia for the first time and SE was confirmed in poultry farms in NSW and Victoria. SE has occasionally been found in poultry in Queensland.


Poultry and their eggs

Affected animals

  • poultry
  • humans

Clinical signs

SE doesn't always produce symptoms in infected flocks, but some flocks may display:

  • unexplained increase in mortalities
  • other non-specific symptoms of disease, such as depression or lethargy.

Monitor your flocks closely for signs of disease and investigate promptly if you suspect SE.

Read information on gastroenteritis in people caused by salmonella from Queensland Health.


If a poultry farm tests positive for SE, government and industry will work together to limit the spread of the disease while assessing management options. Steps to minimise exposure to SE include:

  • movement restrictions
  • decontamination
  • improvements to biosecurity
  • consumer-level and trade-level recalls and surveillance.

The disease will be managed on-farm by industry in accordance with the industry-owned National salmonella enteritidis response plan.

How it is spread

Possible sources of infection in commercial layer flocks include:

  • contaminated environments
  • infected vermin (including rodents and insects)
  • contaminated feed
  • contaminated eggs
  • infected hens
  • contaminated packaging materials, vehicles, crates, people and clothing
  • transmission from breeder birds to progeny (offspring). This is mainly through eggshell contamination, although transmission through the egg before the shell is formed may also occur.

Monitoring and action

Australian Eggs has developed a salmonella risk assessment toolkit to help egg farmers and supply chains identify possible risk factors in all aspects of egg production and processing, including husbandry and biosecurity.

The National salmonella enteritidis response management plan (PDF, 771KB) provides guidance for industry in the event of SE potentially linked to eggs or poultry meat in Australia.

Queensland egg producers are encouraged to join the voluntary National Salmonella Enteritidis Monitoring & Accreditation Program (NSEMAP) as a way to ensure bird flocks are free from SE.

SE can be identified in poultry through:

  • investigating health and disease issues of birds to determine the cause of the symptoms that may be associated with SE
  • tracing back to farms or other businesses associated with an SE-affected farm or business
  • tracing back to sources of eggs and/or poultry facilities when there are cases of food-borne illness in humans
  • routine salmonella monitoring programs on poultry farms and facilities (e.g. grading floors).

To protect your poultry from SE:

  • review and, if necessary, update your on-farm biosecurity plan
  • only allow essential services and workers on the property and restrict movement into and from poultry sheds
  • keep track of visitors to your property
  • review hygiene practices.


Prevention in animals

Farm biosecurity procedures play a vital part in controlling the disease.

Whether you're a commercial producer, or have a few birds in your backyard, all bird owners have a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to prevent the spread of diseases such as SE or high-risk diseases like avian influenza.

You should have a documented biosecurity program to monitor for, and prevent, the introduction of SE on your property or the spread of bacteria between poultry sheds or paddocks/ranges.

This program could include:

  • buying pullets that are tested and confirmed to be SE-free
  • buying feed from a mill that monitors for salmonella
  • becoming a member of the Egg Standards of Australia (ESA) voluntary quality assurance program
  • providing birds with drinking water derived from town water or water that has been effectively sanitised in line with the National water biosecurity manual—poultry production
  • implementing an effective, auditable vermin control program and using rodenticides in compliance with Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) label instructions
  • storing feed in areas not accessible to other animals (including vermin)
  • cleaning equipment before it is used
  • not allowing people suffering from diarrhoea to work on the farm or handle birds, including people returning from overseas.

Refer to the National farm biosecurity manual for poultry production and the National farm biosecurity technical manual for egg production (PDF, 11.8MB) for more detailed biosecurity standards applicable to the poultry, and egg industries, respectively.

Further information

Under Queensland legislation, if you suspect the presence of this infection in poultry, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or contact the Emergency Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.