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What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is an infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella typhimurium and S. enteritidis are the two most commonly found in the United States.

Salmonella is also called salmonellosis.

Where does Salmonella Occur?

Salmonella can occur anywhere and is found worldwide. It usually occurs in small, contained outbreaks in the general population or in large outbreaks in hospitals, restaurants, or institutions for children or the elderly.

Symptoms of Salmonella?

Symptoms of salmonella usually begin from 12 hours to 3 days after you are infected. They are most severe in the elderly, infants, and people with chronic conditions. People with AIDS are particularly vulnerable to salmonella-often suffering from recurring episodes.

The most common symptoms of Salmonella are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

Salmonella can become a chronic infection in some people who may not have symptoms. Though they may have no symptoms, they can spread the disease by not washing their hands before preparing food for others.

How is Salmonella Transmitted?

Salmonella bacteria can be found in food products such as raw poultry, eggs, and beef, and sometimes on unwashed fruit. Food prepared on surfaces that previously were in contact with raw meat or meat products can become contaminated with the bacteria.

In recent years, CDC has received reports of several cases of Salmonella from eating raw alfalfa sprouts grown in contaminated soil. Salmonella infection frequently occurs after handling pets, particularly reptiles like snakes, turtles, and lizards.

How is Salmonella Diagnosed?

Your doctor can use laboratory tests to identify salmonella in your stool if you are infected.

Can Salmonella be Treated?

If you are like most people infected with Salmonella, your infection will clear up within 5 to 7 days and you won't need to be treated. If you have severe diarrhea, however, you may need intravenous fluids. If the infection spreads from the intestines into the bloodstream, your health care provider can treat it with antibiotics such as ampicillin.

Tips to Prevent Salmonella

  • Drink only pasteurized milk.
  • Don't eat foods containing raw eggs, such as homemade caesar salad dressing, cookie dough, and hollandaise sauce, or drink homemade eggnog made with raw eggs.
  • Handle raw eggs carefully.
  • Keep eggs refrigerated.
  • Throw away cracked or dirty eggs.
  • Cook eggs thoroughly.
  • Cook poultry products to an internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit for breast meat and 180 degrees Fahrenheit for thigh meat.
  • Wash thoroughly with soap and hot water all food preparation surfaces and utensils that have come in contact with raw poultry or raw eggs.
  • Wash hands immediately after handling raw poultry or raw eggs.
  • Wash hands immediately after handling reptiles or contact with pet feces.

Complications of Salmonella

Complications of salmonella include, Reiter's Syndrome and in severe cases, death. Reiter's Syndrome can last for months or years and can lead to arthritis. Symptoms of Reiter's Syndrome are:

  • Painful joints
  • Irritated eyes
  • Painful urination

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