Salmonella Infections

What are salmonella infections?

Salmonella infections are diarrheal infections caused by the bacteria salmonella. The salmonella germ is actually a group of bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in humans. There are many different kinds of salmonella bacteria.

Salmonella are transmitted from feces of people or animals to other people or animals. Contaminated foods are often animal in origin, such as beef, poultry, seafood, milk, or eggs. However, all foods, including some unwashed fruits and vegetables can become contaminated.

What are the symptoms of salmonella infections?

The following are the most common symptoms of salmonella infections. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. Other symptoms may include chills, headache, nausea, or vomiting. 

The symptoms of salmonella infections may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your health care provider for a diagnosis.

How are salmonella infections diagnosed?

Since many different illnesses have symptoms similar to salmonella infections, diagnosis depends on laboratory tests that identify salmonella in the stools.

What is the treatment for salmonella infections?

These infections generally run their course in four to seven days and often no further treatment is required. However, patients with severe diarrhea may need rehydration with intravenous fluids. If the infection spreads from the intestines to the blood stream, prompt treatment with antibiotics will be necessary.

Specific treatment for salmonella infections will be determined by your health care provider based on:

  • Your overall health and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

How can salmonella infections be prevented?

Since foods of animal origin pose the greatest threat of salmonella contamination, do not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, seafood, or meats. Remember that some sauces and desserts use raw eggs in their preparation, so be cautious of these, particularly in foreign countries. Also, follow these recommendations by the CDC:

  • Make sure all poultry, meats, seafood, and eggs, are well-cooked. Food containing any of these ingredients should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73.8 degrees Celsius). 

  • Do not consume raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products.

  • Do not consume raw or undercooked eggs. Discard cracked eggs. Keep eggs refrigerated.  

  • Thoroughly wash produce before eating it.

  • Avoid cross-contamination of foods. Uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.

  • All utensils, including cutting boards, knives, and counters, should be thoroughly washed after handling uncooked foods.

  • Thoroughly wash hands before handling foods and between handling different food items.

  • Thoroughly wash hands after contact with feces.

  • Thoroughly wash hands after handling any reptiles or birds, since reptiles and birds are particularly likely to carry salmonella.

What is Salmonella typhi?

Salmonella typhi is the one type of salmonella that lives only in humans and is transmitted only from human to human through contaminated food or water. It tends to cause a serious and life-threatening infection called typhoid fever, and treatment often requires antibiotics. A small number of treated individuals will continue to carry the organism and transmit it through their feces to others through contaminated food or water.