How To Protect Yourself Against Salmonella

Salmonella is a type bacteria which can cause a spectrum of disease: gastroenteritis, fever, bacteremia and focal infections.  It is the most common bacterial infectious cause of food-borne disease in the United States.  Infections most commonly begin with ingestion of bacteria in contaminate food or water.  Eggs and poultry are the most common sources of infection.  The bacteria can also be directly infected from reptile and amphibian carriers.  The statistics are rather high, with 1.4 million people infected annually.

What are the symptoms of salmonella infection?

The incubation period is 8-48 hours after the ingestion of the contaminated source, or salmonella infected food source.   Symptoms typically include:

o   Fever

o   Chills

o   Nausea/vomiting

o   abdominal pain

o   Diarrhea

Diarrhea symptoms are usually self-limiting for 3 to 7 days. Infants, elderly and those with weaken immunity can develop a systemic form of the disease which can be life threatening.  Rarely people develop Reiter’s syndrome following infection.  Reiter’s is defined by painful eyes, urination and joints.  Symptoms of Reiter’s can last for months or years resulting in permanent arthritis.

What treatment is available of salmonella infection?

The majority of people can recover from gastroenteritis associated with salmonella poisoning with supportive home car.  This means ensuring adequate hydration with fluids that have a blend of salt and sugar.  People who have a salmonella infection should also avoid soft drinks, sweetened fruit drinks, sweetened tea, coffee, and medical tea infusions with diuretic effects due to high sugar content and/or caffeine.

Emergency care should be sought if:

1.       if the person has diarrhea along with high fever, moderate-to-severe abdominal pain, or dehydration that cannot be managed by drinking fluids

2.       if the diarrhea appears to contain blood (it may be bright red or may look like black, thick tar)

3.       If the person is very sleepy and is not acting like their usual selves (others may notice this and take the person to the emergency department).