- Signs & Symptoms
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella is a genus name that represents gram-negative rod-shaped bacteria that cause disease in humans and other warm-blooded animals.
Salmonella can cause various diseases, such as:
- Food poisoning
- Gastrointestinal inflammation
- Typhoid fever
The CDC estimates that every year in the United States about 1.2 million people are infected with Salmonella, 23,000 need hospital care, and 450 deaths occur.
Can Salmonella spread from person to person?
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, several Salmonella species can be transmitted from animals (snakes, turtles, chickens, hamsters, cats, and dogs) to humans, usually by direct contact.
Undercooked meats and especially eggs are common sources of Salmonella bacteria.
How long is a person contagious with Salmonella?
Some individuals may shed Salmonella for days to weeks after symptoms have resolved and remain contagious during this time. A few individuals may become carriers and be contagious for years (for example, Typhoid Mary, a food handler responsible for several typhoid outbreaks).
What are the first signs of Salmonella?
Most symptoms of salmonellosis begin within 12-24 hours after exposure to the bacteria. It is not unusual to have a group of individuals come down with the same symptoms if Salmonella infection comes from contaminated foods.
Healthcare professionals often recognize outbreaks when people who eat or drink from a contaminated source begin to seek medical care (for example, a large family reunion with many people eating contaminated potato salad). The symptoms and signs usually include stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, and occasionally vomiting.
Usually, a physician makes the diagnosis after a laboratory examination of the stool sample, because the bacteria can be easily cultivated and identified. However, if the symptoms are relatively mild (for example, no dehydration), by the time the organism is identified, most people will be spontaneously cured of the disease.
IMAGESSee pictures of Bacterial Skin Conditions See Images
How is Salmonella transmitted?
Salmonella spread usually through the fecal-oral route (contamination of hands or objects with bacteria shed in the stool); Salmonella can be excreted into the environment and easily contaminate food and water sources. When animals or humans touch or consume food or drink contaminated with Salmonella, they are likely to get salmonellosis. The contaminated animal or human then can easily spread the bacteria to other animals and/or humans by direct and indirect contact.
What is the fastest way to cure Salmonella?
Salmonellosis for most people is an uncomfortable disease that lasts about three to five days and often requires only good oral fluid intake for recovery. The symptoms gradually wane, and most people spontaneously clear the infection in this period. However, for other individuals, symptoms of dehydration, nausea, and vomiting may be more severe.
Most infected patients do not require antibiotic treatment, although some individuals will require antibiotics to help cure the infection. A few individuals may have very severe symptoms that require the patient to be hospitalized.
When should I contact a medical caregiver about Salmonella?
If any individual shows signs of dehydration (for example, reduced or absent urination, dry mucus membranes), have immunodeficiency problems or has sickle cell anemia, he or she should contact a physician urgently or go to an emergency department to avoid complications of severe dehydration and/or sepsis (spread of infection to the bloodstream).
People at higher risk for Salmonella infections are infants, young children, and anyone with suppressed immune system function.
- CDC Warns of Potentially Fatal Bacterial Illness on U.S. Gulf Coast
- Helping Others as Volunteers Helps Kids 'Flourish': Study
- FDA Approves Pfizer's RSV Shot for Older Adults
- What to Do When Tough-to-Treat Lymphoma Strikes During Pregnancy
- Rate of Pregnant U.S. Women Who Have Diabetes Keeps Rising
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Is Salmonella Contagious Related Articles
Food PoisoningConcerned about food poisoning outbreaks? From ground beef to lettuce, many foods can cause them. Learn about foodborne diseases like Salmonella, E. coli, norovirus, Campylobacter, Staph, and hepatitis A.
FeverAlthough a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 F (37 C), in practice, a person is usually not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Fever is part of the body's own disease-fighting arsenal; rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease-producing organisms.
Dehydration in Adults & ChildrenDehydration is the excessive loss of body water. There are a number of causes of dehydration including heat exposure, prolonged vigorous exercise, and some diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of dehydration include headache, lightheadedness, constipation, and bad breath. Treatment for dehydration is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes.
Food PoisoningFood poisoning is common but can also be life-threatening. Food poisoning symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Read about different types of food poisoning, treatment, and tips for prevention.
Food Poisoning QuizWhat causes food poisoning? Can it be prevented? Take this quiz to learn about food safety and how to guard yourself against food poisoning.
Food and Health: Foods Most Likely to Give You Food PoisoningEvery year, 1 in 6 people in the U.S. get a foodborne illness. Find out which foods sicken the most number of Americans, and how.
How Do You Know If You Have E. Coli or Salmonella?E. coli and salmonella are both bacteria that can cause food poisoning. What is the difference between E. coli and salmonella?
Is the Stomach Flu Contagious?The stomach flu or gastroenteritis is caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain. Learn about how it is spread and how you can prevent infection.
Nausea and VomitingNausea and vomiting are symptoms of many conditions including motion sickness, pregnancy, emotional stress, gallbladder disease, and other illnesses. Learn about causes, treatment, and when to be concerned.
Peripheral Vascular DiseasePeripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and brain. While there are many causes of peripheral vascular disease, doctors commonly use the term peripheral vascular disease to refer to peripheral artery disease (peripheral arterial disease, PAD), a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis. Peripheral artery disease symptoms include intermittent leg pain while walking, leg pain at rest, numbness in the legs or feet, and poor wound healing in the legs or feet. Treatment for peripheral artery disease include lifestyle measures, medication, angioplasty, and surgery.
Salmonella Food PoisoningSalmonella infection (salmonellosis) is typically caused by the consumption of contaminated foods. Symptoms of salmonellosis include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Salmonellosis typically resolves on its own in four to seven days. It's important to increase one's fluid intake to compensate for the fluid lost by vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Salmonella Food Poisoning Treatment, SymptomsWhat is Salmonella? What are the best treatments for Salmonella, and what are its symptoms? From food poisoning to typhoid fever, learn about this common pathogen. Discover how to prepare food without Salmonella risk, and what to do if you get a Salmonella infection.
Sepsis (Blood Poisoning)Sepsis (blood poisoning) is a potentially deadly infection with signs and symptoms that include elevated heart rate, low or high temperature, rapid breathing and/or a white blood cell count that is too high or too low and has more than 10% band cells. Most cases of sepsis are caused by bacterial infections, and some cases are caused by fungal infections. Treatment requires hospitalization, IV antibiotics, and therapy to treat any organ dysfunction.
Stomach Flu vs. Food Poisoning
The stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis) and food poisoning are not the same infections. However, they do have a few similar symptoms, for example:
- Abdominal (stomach) pain and cramping.
Symptoms and signs of food poisoning show up earlier (2 hours up to a couple of days) in comparison to the stomach flu in which symptoms may take 4 hours up to 48 hours (2 days) before symptoms begin. Medical treatment for the stomach flu and food poisoning generally is not necessary. A bland diet, drinking plenty of fluids, and rest may be the only treatment necessary.