Salmonella Food Poisoning (Salmonellosis)

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Salmonella food poisoning facts

  • Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of humans and animals and are excreted in feces.
  • Salmonella infection occurs from consumption of raw meats and eggs, contaminated dairy foods such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, or fruits and vegetables contaminated by food handlers.
  • A Salmonella infection causes gastrointestinal symptoms, including
  • Symptoms develop within 12-72 hours and typically last four to seven days.
  • In most cases, no specific treatment is needed other than adequate hydration.
  • Most cases of salmonellosis resolve on their own without complications.
  • People at risk for complications or those with particularly severe illness may need antibiotic therapy.
  • There is no vaccine to prevent Salmonella infection.
  • Reptiles, rodents, and birds may be infected with Salmonella. Contact with these animals increases the likelihood of getting the infection.
  • Infection can be prevented by attention to hygiene during food preparation and handling of animals.

Salmonella Outbreak Pictures Slideshow

What is Salmonella food poisoning?

Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, is sometimes referred to as Salmonella food poisoning. Salmonella are a type of bacteria that have been known to cause illness for over 125 years. The organism is named for a scientist named Daniel Elmer Salmon, who discovered the bacteria. Salmonellosis is a food-borne infection typically caused by consumption of contaminated foods. There are about 42,000 cases of salmonellosis reported each year in the U.S., but it is estimated to cause over 1 million illnesses per year. Because the illness is not always reported or diagnosed, it is estimated that the actual number of infections may be much higher than this.

Different types of the Salmonella bacteria can cause the illness. The two most common types in the U.S. are S. typhimurium and S. enteritidis. Specific strains of the bacteria can be responsible for outbreaks of the disease. For example, an outbreak in 2013-2014 was linked to multidrug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg. This strain and some other strains have become resistant to many drugs traditionally used to treat the infection, posing a risk to public health.

Some types of Salmonella bacteria cause typhoid fever, a serious illness that occurs most often in nonindustrialized areas of the world.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/25/2015

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Is Salmonella Contagious?

Many of the members of the bacterial genus Salmonella are contagious. The organisms can be transferred from person to person, by both direct (via saliva, fecal/oral spread, kissing) and indirect contact (for example, using contaminated eating utensils). In addition, a number of Salmonella species can be transmitted from animals (snakes, turtles, chickens, hamsters, cats, and dogs) to humans, usually by direct contact.