Types of Food Poisoning: Salmonella
Salmonellosis is an infection witha bacterium called Salmonella. Mostpersons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps12 to 72 hours after infection. The illnessusually last 4 to 7 days and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons the diarrhea may beso severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infectionmay spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other sites andcause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impairedimmune systems are more likely to have severe illness.
The Salmonella germ is actually a group of bacteria that cancause diarrheal illness in humans. Salmonella passes from the feces of people oranimals to other people or animals.Among the many different kinds of Salmonella bacteria, Salmonellaserotype Typhimurium and Salmonella serotype Enteritidis are the most common in the United States.
Other illnesses have the same symptoms as Salmonellosis, such as diarrhea, fever, or abdominalcramps. Determining that Salmonella isthe cause of the illness depends on laboratory tests that identify it in thestools of an infected person. Thesetests are sometimes not performed unless the laboratory is instructedspecifically to look for Salmonella.Once identified, further testing can determine its specific type, andwhich antibiotics are used to treat it.
Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5 to 7 days andoften do not require treatment unless the patient comes severely dehydrated orthe infection spreads from the intestines.Persons with severe diarrhea may require rehydrationwith intravenous fluids. Antibiotics areusually not necessary unless the infection spreads from the intestines.? Some Salmonella bacteria, however, havebecome resistant to antibiotics.
Long-TermConsequences of Salmonellosis
Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, althoughit may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. A small number of people who are infectedwith Salmonella, will go on to develop pains in their joints, irritation ofeyes, and painful urination. This iscalled Reiter's syndrome and can last for months or years, leading to chronicarthritis which is difficult to treat.Antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in whether or not theperson later develops arthritis.
Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of humansand other animals, including birds.Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foodscontaminated with animal feces.Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.
Contaminated foods are often of animal origin, such as beef,poultry, milk, or eggs, but all foods, including vegetables may becomecontaminated. Thorough cooking will killSalmonella in raw foods of animal origin, which are frequentlycontaminated. Food can also becomecontaminated when an infected food handler forgets to wash his or her handswith soap after using the bathroom.
Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets,especially those with diarrhea, and people can become infected if they do notwash their hands after contact with these feces. Reptiles and turtles are particularly like toharbor Salmonella and people should always wash their hands immediately afterhandling a reptile, even if the reptile is healthy. Adults should be careful that children washtheir hands after handling a reptile.
There is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis. Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry,or meat. Raw eggs may be unrecognized infood such as homemade hollandaise sauce, Caesar and other homemade saladdressings, tiramisu, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough, andfrostings.
Poultry and meat, including hamburgers, should bewell-cooked and not pink in the middle.
Do not consume raw or unpasteurizedmilk or dairy products. Wash producethoroughly before consuming.
Avoid cross-contamination of foods. Uncooked meats should be kept separate fromproduce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.Wash hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensilsthorough after handling uncooked foods.Wash your hands before and after handling any food item and betweenhandling different food items.
Infected people should not prepare food or pour water forothers until they are shown to no longer carry Salmonella.
Wash your hands after contact with animal feces. Wash your hands after handling reptiles andturtles. These are not appropriate petsfor small children and should not be in the same house as an infant.
How common is salmonellosis?
Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States. This number could be higher because manymilder cases are not diagnosed or reported.Salmonellosis is more common in the summerthan in the winter. Children are mostlikely to contract salmonellosis. Young children, the elderly, and the immuno-compromised are mostly like to have severeinfections. It is estimated thatapproximately 600 persons die each year from acute salmonellosis.