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 usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Contaminated foods are often animal in origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs. However, all foods, including vegetables and peanut butter, can become contaminated.
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.
The symptoms of Salmonella infections may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
Since many different illnesses have symptoms similar to Salmonella infections, diagnosis depends on laboratory tests that identify Salmonella in the stools.
These infections generally run their course in five 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, antibiotics may also be necessary.
Specific treatment for Salmonella infections will be determined by your physician based on:
- your overall health and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your intolerance for specific medications, procedure, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference
Since foods of animal origin pose the greatest threat of Salmonella contamination, do not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Make sure poultry and meat, including hamburgers, are well-cooked, not pink in the middle.
- Do not consume raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products.
- 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, counters, etc., 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, since reptiles are particularly likely to have Salmonella.
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