Salmonella Infection (Salmonellosis)

Man loading dishwasher.Salmonella infection is also called salmonellosis. It's an illness that affects your intestines caused by Salmonella bacteria. You can be infected from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and unpasteurized milk are more likely to carry this bacteria than other foods. However, vegetables may also be contaminated. Salmonella most often passes through food that hasn’t been cooked well enough, or that contacts raw meat or eggs. You can also be infected by contact with feces of infected animals, or by food that an infected food handler contaminates.

Common symptoms of Salmonella infection

Symptoms often appear 12 to 72 hours after you are infected. Symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Stomach cramps

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

Diagnosing Salmonella infection

A healthcare provider takes a sample of your stool and checks for Salmonella. More than one stool sample may be needed.

Treating Salmonella infection

Most otherwise healthy people get better within 5 to 7 days. You will usually not need antibiotics (drugs that treat bacterial infections). However, if you have other medical problems, you may need antibiotics if bacteria move from your intestines to other parts of your body. Treatment is with fluids, and it is important to drink plenty of them while you are recovering. This helps prevent dehydration. Don't take antidiarrheal medicine unless your healthcare provider tells you to. This medicine can prevent your body from getting rid of the bacteria. It can also make the illness last longer.

Call your healthcare provider if you have:

  • No improvement in symptoms after 2 days

  • Blood in your stool

  • Severe vomiting

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Signs of dehydration (dry, sticky mouth; decreased urine output; very dark urine)

Preventing Salmonella infection

Follow these steps to reduce your chances of getting or passing on Salmonella infection:

  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water. Do this often. Make sure to wash before preparing meals. Wash after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets or other animals. Teach your child to do the same.

  • Use a food thermometer when cooking. Cook poultry to at least 165°F (74°C). Cook pork and ground meats to at least 160°F (71°C). Cook beef or lamb to at least 145°F (63°C). Cook eggs until the yolks are firm and are not still runny.

  • Wash or peel fresh fruits and vegetables before eating.

  • Wash cutting boards and utensils with hot water and soap after each use. After preparing raw meat or eggs, clean boards and counters with hot water and soap.