The news that five people have been struck by salmonella enteritidis in the Australian state of Victoria has hit headlines around the world.

Five people ranging in age between their 20s and 80s have had salmonella confirmed, with the outbreak linked to eggs from producer Bridgwater Poultry.

It has prompted a mass recall of eggs and the culling of hundreds of thousands of hens across four states.

Free-range and barn-laid eggs packaged under a Woolworths brand, Victorian Fresh and Loddon Valley with dates between 20 March to 29 April are affected.

“It is like an exotic pest – it’s the cane toad of salmonella,” Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said about the strain.

“It is not a normal organism found in eggs in Victoria, indeed Australia.”

Bridgwater Poultry Farm said in a statement: “The health and safety of consumers is of the highest priority and Bridgewater Poultry Farm is working with the relevant government health and agricultural departments to investigate this incident at our site that may have been introduced through the purchase of interstate eggs. This investigation is continuing.

“As a precaution, the farm has been quarantined and strict measures to protect neighbouring farms are in place.

“Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) is not endemic in Australia so it is important to work through how this incident has arisen.