Salmonella infections are one of the most common types of food poisoning. It is a bacterial disease that targets the intestinal tract, mainly the small intestine where the bacteria live inside the intestines of humans and animals, and human infection occurs when you ingest contaminated food or water.
About twenty-five thousand people enter hospitals yearly due to Salmonella in the United States; most are under twenty years of age. Read on to learn more about this infection and how it affects your body.
Eating or drinking any liquid contaminated with species of Salmonella bacteria causes salmonella food poisoning. Salmonella spreads when not washing or improperly washing hands after using the toilet. It can also be spread by handling pets, especially reptiles and birds.
While thorough cooking or pasteurization destroys Salmonella bacteria, you are at high risk when you eat raw, undercooked, or unpasteurized items like undercooked poultry or eggs, unpasteurized juice or milk, or contaminated raw fruits, veggies, and nuts.
In addition, having family members with salmonella food poisoning, living in group housing where you are exposed to many people and where food is prepared by others, traveling to places where sanitation and hygienic standards are poor, and having a weakened immunity can all make you more prone to infection.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The symptoms of Salmonella usually appear within a few hours to six days after consuming contaminated food or water, and they can be aggressive and last for up to seven days.
Typical symptoms are abdominal pain or cramping, chills, fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and bloody stool. Additionally, some strains can infect the urine, bones, joints, and the nervous system, including the spinal fluid and brain. Many people experience joint pain or reactive arthritis that can last for months or years.
As a diagnosis, your doctor will perform a physical examination where they may check if your abdomen is tender and look for a rash on your skin. If the rash is accompanied by a high fever, this may point to a more serious form of salmonella infection known as typhoid fever.
Your physician may also order a blood test or stool culture.
Treatment and Prevention
The principal treatment for Salmonella is replacing liquids and electrolytes you lose when you have diarrhea. You can modify your diet to include easily digestible foods like rice, toast, and bananas, and avoid dairy products.
Plus, getting good rest allows your body to fight the infection. In severe or life-threatening cases, your physician may also prescribe antibiotics.
You can avoid Salmonella in several ways:
- Washing your hands can help prevent the transfer of bacteria to your mouth or any food especially after you use the bathroom, change a diaper, touch raw meat or poultry, or handle pets and their habitats.
- Keep things separate to minimize the risk of cross-contamination.
- Store raw meat, chicken, and seafood away from other items, and always wash food preparation tops well with soap and water.
- Avoid having raw eggs
Nevertheless, experts advise seeking professional assistance in case you experience diarrhea, vomiting, or both for more than two days, signs of dehydration such as dark urine, dizziness and dry mouth, a high fever, and blood in the stool.
In the case of children, they should receive medical care if they have diarrhea for more than a day, vomiting that lasts more than twelve hours, signs of dehydration, blood in stool, and fever. Pregnant women, older people, and people with weakened immune systems should not hesitate to seek medical advice.
For healthy people, symptoms should go away within two to seven days, yet the bacteria can stay in the body longer. That means you should be careful as you can still infect other people with Salmonella bacteria.