Salmonella Food Poisoning
poisoning is an infection in the small intestine. It is also called salmonella
enterocolitis or salmonellosis. It is one of the most common types of food
poisoning, and is caused by the bacteria group Salmonella. These bacteria live in the intestines of humans and
animals. Infection results when food is eaten that has been infected with
animal feces. Around 40,000 people in the United States develop salmonella each
It is most common in people under 20 years old and is more likely to occur in
the summer months because the Salmonella bacterium
grows better in warm weather.
What Causes Salmonella Food
Eating food or
drinking water or any liquid contaminated with Salmonella bacteria causes this kind of food poisoning. People are
usually infected by eating raw foods or prepared foods that have been handled
by others with bacteria on their hands. Salmonella is often spread when people
do not wash (or improperly wash) their hands after using the toilet or handling
pets, especially reptiles and birds.
or pasteurization kills Salmonella
bacteria. You are at risk when you consume raw, uncooked, or unpasteurized
poisoning is commonly caused by:
- undercooked chicken, turkey, or other poultry
- undercooked eggs
- unpasteurized milk or juice
- contaminated raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts
A number of
factors can increase your risk of Salmonella
- having family members with salmonella food poisoning
- having a pet reptile or bird (they can carry
- living in group housing such as dorms or nursing homes.
This is because you are regularly exposed to many people, and food in
these kinds of institutions is often prepared with eggs and ground meat
from various sources.
- traveling to developing countries where sanitation is
poor and hygienic standards are sub-standard. If you have a weakened
immune system, you are more likely than others to become infected with Salmonella.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Salmonella
The symptoms of
salmonella food poisoning often come on quickly and aggressively, and last for
up to 48 hours. Typical symptoms during this acute stage include:
- abdominal pain, cramping, or tenderness
- muscle pain
- signs of dehydration (decreased urine, dry mouth, etc.)
- bloody stool
caused by diarrhea, is a serious concern with salmonella, especially in
children and infants. The very young can become severely dehydrated in just one
day, and this can lead to death.
Diagnosing Salmonella Food
To diagnose salmonella
food poisoning, your doctor will do a physical examination. He or she may check
if your abdomen is tender or for a skin rash which presents as small pink dots
on your skin. Accompanied by a high fever, these dots may indicate a serious
form of Salmonella infection called
Your doctor may
also do a blood test or stool culture. This is to look for actual evidence and
samples of Salmonella bacteria in
Preventing Salmonella Food
To help prevent salmonella
- Handle food properly. Cook foods to recommended
internal temperatures, and refrigerate leftovers promptly.
- Clean counters before and after preparing high-risk
- Wash your hands thoroughly (especially when handling
eggs or poultry).
- Use separate utensils for raw and cooked items.
- Keep foods refrigerated before cooking.
- If you own a reptile or bird, wear gloves or wash hands
thoroughly after handling.
Treating Salmonella Food
treatment for salmonella food poisoning is replacing fluids and electrolytes
that you lose when you have diarrhea. Adults should drink water or suck on ice
cubes. For children, your pediatrician may suggest rehydration drinks such as
Pedialyte. In addition, modify your diet to include only simple, easily
digestible foods (such as bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) and avoid dairy
products. It is also important to get plenty of rest and allow your body to
fight the infection.
prevents drinking liquids, you may need to see your doctor and receive
intravenous (IV) fluids. Young children may also need IV fluids.
medication to stop your diarrhea is not recommended because it can prolong the
infection. However, you may take over-the-counter pain relievers to help with
body aches. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Salmonella Food Poisoning Outlook
healthy people, symptoms should go away within two to seven days. However, the bacteria
stay within the body longer. The illness stays with you for one to two weeks.
Some people are still carriers of the bacteria for a year or more after the