May 21, 2008
- Salmonella is actually a group of bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in people. Salmonella has been known to cause illness in people for over 100 years.
- Every year, approximately 800,000 to 4 million cases of Salmonella result in 500 deaths in the United States. Children are the most likely to get Salmonella. Young children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised are the most likely to have severe infections.
- Symptoms of Salmonella include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps that develop 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.
- If the patient becomes severely dehydrated or the infection spreads from the intestines. Persons with severe diarrhea may require rehydration, often with intravenous fluids. Antibiotics are not usually necessary unless the infection spreads from the intestines.
- Salmonella passes from the feces of people or animals, to other people or other animals. There are many different kinds of Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella serotype Typhimurium and Salmonella serotype Enteritidis are the most common in the United States.
- 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 become contaminated. Food may also become contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected person handling such food.
- Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets. Reptiles are particularly likely to harbor the bacteria.
- Some Salmonella bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, largely as a result of the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.
- There is no vaccine to prevent Salmonella. Therefore, to prevent infection
- Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat. Raw eggs may be unrecognized in some foods such as homemade hollandaise sauce, caesar and other salad dressings, tiramisu, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough, and frostings.
- Poultry and meat, including hamburgers, should be well-cooked, not pink in the middle. Persons also should not consume raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products. Produce should be thoroughly washed before consuming.
- Cross-contamination of foods should be avoided. Uncooked meats should be keep separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensils should be washed thoroughly after handling uncooked foods. Hand should be washed before handling any food, and between handling different food items.
- Persons infected with Salmonella should not prepare food or pour water for others until they have been shown to no longer be carrying the Salmonella bacterium.
- Wash your hands after contact with animal feces. Since reptiles are particularly likely to have Salmonella, everyone should immediately wash their hands after handling reptiles. Reptiles (including turtles) are not appropriate pets for small children and should not be in the same house as an infant.