- Salmonella Outbreak - Slideshow
- Take the Quiz: Summer Food Safety
- Pictures of Food Poisoning - Slideshow
- Summer Food Safety FAQs
- Patient Comments: Salmonella - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Salmonella - Treatments
- Salmonella food poisoning facts
- What is Salmonella food poisoning?
- What causes Salmonella outbreaks? How does Salmonella spread?
- What are risk factors for Salmonella food poisoning?
- What are symptoms and signs of Salmonella poisoning?
- Is Salmonella contagious?
- What is the incubation period for a Salmonella infection?
- What is the contagious period for salmonellosis?
- What kinds of doctors treat Salmonella food poisoning?
- How do physicians diagnose Salmonella food poisoning?
- What is the treatment for Salmonella food poisoning?
- What are complications of Salmonella food poisoning?
- What is the prognosis of Salmonella food poisoning?
- Is it possible to prevent Salmonella food poisoning?
Quick GuideSalmonella Outbreak
What causes Salmonella outbreaks? How does Salmonella spread?
Poultry, beef, milk, and eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria, since the bacteria live in the intestines of humans and animals. Thorough cooking of these foods destroys the bacteria.
Foods, including vegetables and fruits, may also be contaminated during handling or processing of the food, and this is another common source of outbreaks. For example, food may be contaminated by the feces of infected people or animals or from the unwashed hands of a person handling or preparing the food.
Small rodents such as hamsters, as well as baby chicks and ducklings, may also carry the bacteria, and contamination of food after handling these animals may also result in salmonellosis. Reptiles may also harbor Salmonella bacteria. In the 1970s, outbreaks were associated with baby turtles kept as pets. Further, the infection may be spread by contaminated surfaces (such as cutting boards) that have had contact with contaminated foods.
Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. Over the past years, outbreaks of salmonellosis have been associated with a number of different foods, including chicken, cucumbers, alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, ground beef, mangoes, peanut butter, and cantaloupe. These are just a few examples. An outbreak in February 2016 caused by the strain Salmonella muenchen was linked to contaminated alfalfa sprouts.
What are risk factors for Salmonella food poisoning?
Since foods contaminated with Salmonella are not obvious, anyone may consume contaminated foods. Owning pets such as small rodents, chicks, ducklings, turtles and some other reptiles, and some birds may increase the risk of coming in contact with Salmonella bacteria. People who are exposed to many people, such as those living in group housing, may have an increased risk. Children under 5 years of age have the highest reported incidence of infection.
People with medical conditions that lead to immune suppression are at risk for a more severe illness when they do become infected.