Salmonellosis and Salmonella Bacteria – Definition

An illness resulting from infection with any of the numerous strains of Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella are common in the feces of birds and animals. Salmonellosis is most often a foodborne illness acquired through eating raw eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, and undercooked poultry.

Reptiles kept as pets, such as turtles and iguanas, also carry Salmonella. Once salmonellosis develops, the infected person can spread it to other people.

Symptoms and Course Disease

The incubation period (time between exposure and illness) is often less than 12 hours. The most common symptom of salmonellosis is diarrhea, which may be bloody or profuse. Other symptoms include abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and fever.

The course of illness is self-limiting and runs four to seven days in otherwise healthy people. In people who are immunocompromised salmonellosis may occur as an opportunistic infection that causes significant illness.

Because salmonellosis is self-limiting, doctors do not usually prescribe antibiotic medications to treat it even though the cause is bacterial. Researchers have discovered that the Salmonella bacteria remain longer in the bodies of people who receive antibiotics for salmonellosis, extending the possibility of spreading the infection to other people.

Prevention

The most effective approach is prevention through proper food handling and diligent personal hygiene. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella. food safety procedures include

  • Washing the hands with soap and warm water before and after handling food
  • Thoroughly rinsing fresh fruits and vegetables in running water before eating or preparing them for meals
  • Using separate food preparation surfaces, such as cutting boards, and utensils for poultry and meats
  • Thoroughly cooking eggs, poultry, and other animal-based foods

See also FOODBORNE ILLNESSESWATERBORNE ILLNESSES.

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