Definition

Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called salmonella. Salmonella lives in a variety of places such as water, raw meat, seafood, certain pets, and eggs.

Causes

Salmonellosis is caused by ingestion of a strain of bacteria called salmonella. After the bacteria are ingested, within 6-48 hours they will pass through the stomach to the intestine where inflammation occurs and spreads.

Stomach and Intestines

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Risk Factors

Factors that increase your risk of getting salmonellosis include:

    
  • Eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, fish, or seafood
  • Eating unpasteurized dairy products
  • Eating other contaminated foods
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Handling reptiles, especially turtles
  • Having a compromised immune system, such as in:     
  • Elderly persons
  • Infants
  • People with HIV/AIDS
  • People with low stomach acidity such as those who take medication that reduces stomach acid
  • Symptoms

    If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to salmonellosis. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions.

        
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may test your stool or blood to confirm presence of the bacteria

    Treatment

    Over-the-counter medications or oral rehydration solutions may be used to treat the symptoms of salmonellosis. The symptoms will usually improve on their own within 2-5 days. If symptoms are severe, talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

        
  • Rehydration therapy— Oral or IV fluid replacement is needed; electrolytes may also be added to the solution.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen—Over-the-counter pain relievers may be used to reduce fever or treat headaches and other pain.
  • Antibiotics—These are required in severe cases where blood infection may occur. Antibiotic use in non-severe cases does not improve a person's outcome. It may cause the disease to last longer.
  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of getting salmonellosis, take the following steps:

        
  • Frequently wash hands and surfaces.
  • Wash hands and cutting boards with hot soapy water before and after handling raw foods.
  • Wash utensils thoroughly after using them on raw meats, fish, or poultry.
  • Do not use the same cutting boards for raw meats and raw vegetables.
  • Do not drink unpasteurized milk.
  • Drink bottled or purified water when traveling.
  • Cook all foods to appropriate temperatures.
  • Place foods in the refrigerator promptly.
  • Wash hands after handling reptiles.
  • Certain medications, like those to reduce stomach acid, may increase your risk for salmonellosis. Talk to your doctor about this risk.