Monday, August 4, 2014

Salmonella Infections - What You Need to Know

What Is Salmonella?
Salmonella is a type of bacteria. There are many
types of salmonella bacteria, but the type that
commonly causes food poisoning is known medically
as non-typhoidial salmonallae, which lives in the
intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. It
typically causes illnesses in humans when it is
transmitted through foods contaminated with animal
or human feces.

How Do You Get Salmonella?
Most people associate salmonella infection
(salmonellosis) with raw or undercooked poultry or
meat, but it can be found on fruits and vegetables
that are not cooked or washed properly as well. A
food handler may also spread salmonella to foods if
they do not properly wash their hands after using the
Salmonella may be found in the feces of some pets,
especially those with diarrhea. Reptiles such as
turtles, lizards and snakes are the most likely pets to
be carrying salmonella.

Symptoms of Salmonella
The symptoms of salmonellosis are similar to those
of a stomach virus. They include:

~>Stomach cramps
~>Vomiting (occasionally)

If you become infected with salmonella, these
symptoms typically appear between 12 and 72 hours
after exposure to the bacteria. They usually last
between 4 and 7 days and resolve on their own
without treatment.
Occasionally -- especially in infants, the elderly or
those with compromised immune systems -- a more
serious illness may result from salmonella infection.
Diarrhea may become so severe that the person
needs to be hospitalized. The bacteria can also get
into the bloodstream and cause death unless the
person is treated quickly with antibiotics.

How is Salmonella Treated?
Usually, no treatment is necessary for salmonella
other than staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water
or an electrolyte solution (such as Pedialyte for
children and infants or Gatorade for adults) is
important when you have diarrhea to be sure you do
not become dehydrated. Fruit juices and sodas
should be avoided because they can possibly make
the diarrhea worse. Some people may need antibiotic
If you suspect that you have a salmonella infection
after eating food that may have been contaminated,
it is important to see your healthcare provider. They
can do tests to determine if salmonella is the cause
of your symptoms and can report the infection to
your local health department or the CDC if necessary.
Occasionally, diarrhea may become so severe that it
causes dehydration and IV fluids may be necessary.
Antibiotics are typically not necessary unless the
bacteria enter the bloodstream.

Are There Any Complications?
Normally, there are no serious complications from a
salmonella infection. Rarely, people who have had
salmonellosis can develop Reiter's syndrome which
may also turn into chronic arthritis. Symptoms of
Reiter's syndrome include pain in the joints, painful
urination and irritation of the eyes. Treatment with
antibiotics does not appear to affect whether or not a
person develops these complications. Approximately
400 people in the U.S. die each year from salmonella

How Can Salmonella Infection Be Prevented?
Because salmonella is in the environment and even
in our own bodies, it is important to follow some
basic steps to prevent infection with the bacteria.

Some things you can do include:
~>Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs, meat or
poultry. Egg yolks should be cooked until firm and
meat (especially ground meats) and poultry should
not be pink in the middle.
~>Do not consume raw or unpasteurized milk or dairy
~>Thoroughly wash all produce.
~>Keep uncooked meats separated from produce and
other foods so cross contamination does not occur.
~>Thoroughly wash all cutting boards and food
preparation materials after preparing uncooked
~>Wash your hands before you handle food and
between handling different food items.
~>Always wash your hands after using the bathroom
and touching pets, especially reptiles.
~>Never keep reptiles (including turtles) as pets in the
same house with infants and young children. Read
more about pet turtles and salmonella.
~>Wash your hands immediately after touching or
holding chicks, ducklings or other birds and do not
let children handle them at all.

"Salmonellosis." Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and
Mycotic Diseases US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.

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