Salmonella Food Poisoning (Salmonellosis) (cont.)

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What are symptoms and signs of Salmonella poisoning?

  • Symptoms usually begin 12-72 hours after infection.
  • Diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever are common symptoms.
  • The diarrhea is typically loose and not bloody. Nausea, vomiting, headache, and muscle aches may occur.
  • The symptoms usually go away on their own after four to seven days.

Is Salmonella contagious?

  • Many of the members of the bacterial genus Salmonella are contagious.
  • Salmonella food poisoning is usually acquired from eating contaminated foods. It is possible to spread the infection to others through fecal-oral contamination, meaning that fecal material contaminates the hands of an infected person who then contaminates foods that are consumed by others.

What is the incubation period for a Salmonella infection?

Symptoms usually begin 12-72 hours after infection.

What is the contagious period for salmonellosis?

Those with Salmonella infection can be contagious for days to weeks, even after symptoms have disappeared.

How do physicians diagnose Salmonella food poisoning?

Many infections can cause similar symptoms, so diagnosis of Salmonella infection requires identification of the organism in a stool sample from the affected person. Specific tests can be done to identify the exact type of Salmonella responsible for an infection.

What is the treatment for Salmonella food poisoning?

In most cases, the symptoms resolve on their own without treatment within four to seven days. Taking plenty of fluids is essential to replace fluid lost by diarrhea to prevent dehydration. People with severe illness or who are unable to take oral liquids may need intravenous fluids. Antibiotics have been shown to prolong the time period in which the bacteria are present in the stool and are therefore not recommended for most cases. People with severe illness, those at high risk for complications (such as the elderly or infants), or those with decreased immune function may require treatment with antibiotics.

What are complications of Salmonella food poisoning?

Complications can include dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. Spread of the infection to the bloodstream is a further possible complication. This is most likely to occur in people with suppressed immune function. The elderly and very young are also at increased risk for complications.

An uncommon complication called reactive arthritis involves the development of joint pains, irritation of the eyes, and pain on urination. Reactive arthritis may persist for months to years and can lead to chronic arthritis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/25/2015

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