Salmonella is the second most common intestinal infection in the United States. More than 7,000 cases of Salmonella were confirmed in 2009; however the majority of cases go unreported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 1 million people in the U.S. contract Salmonella each year, and that an average of 20,000 hospitalizations and almost 400 deaths occur from Salmonella poisoning, according to a 2011 report.
Salmonella infection usually occurs when a person eats food contaminated with the feces of animals or humans carrying the bacteria. Salmonella outbreaks are commonly associated with eggs, meat and poultry, but these bacteria can also contaminate other foods such as fruits and vegetables. Foods that are most likely to contain Salmonella include raw or undercooked eggs, raw milk, contaminated water, and raw or undercooked meats.
Salmonella is generally divided into two categories. Non-typhoidal Salmonella is the most common form, and is carried by both humans and animals. Most serotypes of Salmonella, such as Salmonella Javiana and Salmonella Enteritidis cause non-typhoidal Salmonella. Typhoidal Salmonella, which causes typhoid fever, is rare, and is caused by Salmonella Typhi, which is carried only by humans.
Symptoms of Salmonella Infection
Symptoms of Salmonella infection, or Salmonellosis, range widely, and are sometimes absent altogether. The most common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever.
Typical Symptoms of Salmonella infection: Appear 6 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food and last for 3 to 7 days without treatment.
- Abdominal Cramps
- Fever of 100 F to 102 F
- Bloody diarrhea
- Body Aches
Typhoid Fever Symptoms: Symptoms of typhoid fever appear between 8 and 14 days after eating contaminated food and last anywhere from 3 to 60 days. They include a fever of 104 F, weakness, lethargy, abdominal pain, coughing, nosebleeds, delirium, and enlarged organs. Typhoid fever is a serious illness that can result in death.
Complications of Salmonella
Complications of Salmonella poisoning are more likely to occur among young children and people age 65 or older. Possible complications include:
Reactive Arthritis: Reactive arthritis is thought to occur in 2 to 15 percent of Salmonella patients. Symptoms include inflammation of the joints, eyes, or reproductive or urinary organs. On average, symptoms appear 18 days after infection.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one disorder in a spectrum of common functional gastrointestinal disorders. Symptoms of IBS can include constipation, diarrhea, alternating diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, urgency, bloating, straining at stools, and a sense of incomplete evacuation.
Focal Infection: A focal infection occurs when Salmonella bacteria takes root in body tissue and causes illnesses such as arthritis or endocartitis. It is caused by typhoidal Salmonella only.
Salmonella infections generally last 3 to 7 days, and often do not require treatment. People with severe dehydration may need rehydration through an IV.
Antibiotics are recommended for those at risk of invasive disease, including infants under three months old. Typhoid fever is treated with a 14-day course of antibiotics.
Unfortunately, treatment of Salmonella has become more difficult as it has become more resistant to antibiotics. Finding the right antibiotic for a case of Salmonella is crucial to treating this bacterial infection.
Prevention of Salmonella Infection
These safety measures can help prevent Salmonella poisoning:
- Wash your hands before preparing food and after handling raw meats
- Cook meat and eggs thoroughly until they reach an internal temperature of 160 F (71 C)
- Do not eat foods containing raw eggs or milk, such as undercooked French toast
- Avoid cooking raw meat in the microwave, as it may not reach a high enough internal temperature to kill Salmonella bacteria and may be unevenly cooked
- Avoid bringing uncooked meat into contact with food that will not be cooked (i.e. salad)
- Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles or animal feces
- Always wash your hands after going to the bathroom
Additional Resources for Salmonella
About-Salmonella.com is a comprehensive site with in-depth information about Salmonella bacteria and Salmonellosis.
SalmonellaLitigation.com is a Website that provides information about lawsuits and litigation brought on behalf of victims of Salmonella outbreaks nationwide. The site provides extensive information about sources of Salmonella outbreaks.
Salmonella Blog provides up-to-date news related to Salmonella outbreaks, research, and more.