Salmonella is back in the news again on the heels of 187 illlnesses in 39 states linked to Daniele Italian Sausage Products. Salmonella is generally associated with gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Salmonella infection carries with it, however, the risk of complications. One of these, endocarditis, is a very rare, but serious complication.
According to wikipedia, endocarditis is an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, the endocardium. It usually involves the heart valves. Endocarditis can be both infectious and non-infectious in etiology. Salmonella infection is associated with infectious endocarditis. The infectious type is particularly problematic, in part because immune response to the heart valves is blunted due to a lack of dedicated blood supply.
There have been a number of reports of a connection between salmonella infection and endocarditis over the years. The complication is thankfully very rare, but each time the number of infected goes up, the risk of serious complications like this one go up with it.