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- What is Salmonella?
- Is Salmonella contagious?
- What is the contagious period for Salmonella?
- How will I know if someone has a Salmonella infection? What is the incubation period for salmonellosis?
- How is Salmonella transmitted?
- How will I know if I am cured of Salmonella?
- When should I contact a medical caregiver about Salmonella?
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, and sepsis. 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.
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. Undercooked meats and especially eggs are common sources of Salmonella bacteria.
What is the contagious period for 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).
How will I know if someone has a Salmonella infection? What is the incubation period for salmonellosis?
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. Health care 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 eat contaminated potato salad). The symptoms and signs usually include stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, and occasionally vomiting. Usually, a physician makes the diagnosis after 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.
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.
How will I know if I am cured of 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 time 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.
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DehydrationDehydration 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.
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Is the Stomach Flu (Gastroenteritis) Contagious
The stomach flu (gastroenteritis) refers to variety infections that occur in the GI (gastrointestinal tract). The stomach flu is caused by viruses (for example, Norovirus or "Cruise Ship Virus), bacteria (for example, Salmonella and E. coli), parasites (for example, Giardiasis or Giardia lamblia), medications like antibiotics, food allergies, and toxins.
Common symptoms of the stomach flu include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain. Generally, the stomach flu is treated at home by treating symptoms with home remedies and OTC medication.
Nausea and Vomiting
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Some causes of nausea and vomiting may be life threatening, for example, heart attack, abdominal obstruction, and cancers.
Treatment of nausea and vomiting depends upon the cause.
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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:
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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.
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