Salmonella: Definition & How to Avoid It.


Salmonella, also known as salmonellosis, is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach pains. Salmonella usually clears up after a few days; however, it helps if you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.

In the US, around 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year. Because many milder cases go undiagnosed or unreported, the number of infections could be ten or more times higher.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is the most prevalent type of bacterial food poisoning in the United States. It happens when you get sick with diarrhea and stomach pains from Salmonella bacteria.

It is known as salmonellosis to distinguish it from other illnesses caused by various Salmonella bacteria, such as typhoid fever.

Salmonella is a kind of bacteria that commonly causes food poisoning. Salmonellosis (salmonella for short) is a bacterial infection that can be contracted by consuming contaminated food products such as raw poultry, eggs, beef, and, in some cases, fruits and vegetables. You can also get salmonella from pets, especially birds and reptiles.

Salmonella infections are pretty common. According to the CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bacteria causes more than a million infections in the US every year.

Most people who get salmonella recover entirely without treatment. Still, the illness can be severe enough to necessitate hospitalization in some cases.

Types of Salmonella

The CDC reports over 2,500 different types of salmonella; however, only about 100 are known to cause human infections.
Most of these cause gastrointestinal illness, but others, such as Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi, which are uncommon in the United States, can cause the potentially fatal diseases typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever.
Most people in the United States who have these infections get them while going overseas to areas where these diseases are common.

What happens if you contract salmonella?

Salmonella infection indicates that enough bacteria have passed your stomach acid and immune system to make you sick. Salmonella bacteria infiltrate and destroy the cells lining your intestines.
This creates a challenge for your body to absorb water, resulting in stomach cramps. The water exits your body through diarrhea.

Salmonella Signs and Symptoms

Salmonella causes gastroenteritis, also known as stomach flu. According to the CDC, symptoms usually appear between six hours to six days after exposure to the bacteria.
Although, in some cases, it can take several weeks for some people to develop symptoms).

Typical symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps in the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Appetite loss

Contact your physician straightaway if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Diarrhea that lingers for more than three days
  • You have blood in your stools.
  • Fever of more than 102°F
  • Inability to keep liquids down and constant vomiting
  • Dry mouth and throat, as well as decreased urine output (which are signs of dehydration)
  • Dizziness, particularly when standing

Causes and Risk Factors of Salmonella

Salmonella thrives in the intestines of humans and other animals and can be passed through feces.
When someone touches or eats something contaminated with feces, the bacteria can infect them. Salmonella infections can occur in a variety of ways, including:

  • Consuming food or drinking water tainted with animal feces, such as:
  • Beef, poultry, or fish that has not been cooked to the right internal temperature. (cooking destroys salmonella)
  • Uncooked eggs or products containing raw eggs, such as cookie dough
  • Dairy that is raw or unpasteurized, as well as dairy products such as milk
  • Fruit or vegetables, raw
  • Cross-contamination with kitchen knives.
  • Eating food handled by a food worker who has not cleaned their hands thoroughly
  • Petting or dealing with an animal’s waste, especially one known to carry salmonellae, such as lizards, turtles, or baby birds.

Risk Factors of Salmonella

Anyone can get salmonella, but some people are more likely to get a severe infection due to their age, living conditions, and certain illnesses and medications.

You are more likely to contract salmonella if you:

  1. Live or work near certain animals like chickens, ducks, turtles, and lizards.
  2. If you take antacids or if you’ve recently taken antibiotics.
    These medications weaken your immune system against salmonella, making it easier to become ill.
  3. If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The damage caused by IBD makes infection more likely.
  4. If you are less than five years old

You’re at higher risk of developing a severe illness from a Salmonella infection if you:

  1. Are over the age of 65 or less than a year old
  2. Have a destabilized immune system (due to HIV, chemotherapy, or other illnesses or medications).
  3. I have sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell disease exposes you to osteomyelitis, a rare salmonella complication.

If you are cooking with children make sure to teach them the right way so they can avoid Salmonella as a child and at an older age.

What Can I Expect from Salmonella?

Salmonella is usually self-limiting, which means it goes away on its own after a few days of symptoms. You can generally get by at home until you feel better.

If you have a weakened immune system or sickle cell disease, or if you become seriously ill from salmonella, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

How Long does Salmonella Survive?

Salmonella symptoms typically last four to seven days. If your symptoms do not become better after three days, consult your doctor.

What is the Treatment for Salmonella?

Salmonella is not usually treated with medication. If you are critically ill or at high risk of complications, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. You may need to visit the hospital if you have severe diarrhea.

It would be best if you stay hydrated at all times. If you are dehydrated, your provider may administer IV fluids to you.

While it is comforting that, in most cases, salmonella isn’t life-threatening, prevention is often better than cure. Here’s how to avoid salmonella or how to prevent salmonella outbreaks.

How to Avoid Salmonella.

Here are the following steps for avoiding salmonella

Please wash your hands.

  • You should wash your hands after using the restroom, changing diapers, and handling or eating any food.
  • To reduce the risk of infection, ensure that people who have diarrhea, especially children, wash their hands carefully and frequently with soap.
  • You should always scrub and sanitize your hands after coming into contact with farm animals, pets, animal feces, or animal environments.
  • Basically, always Wash Your Hands!

Keep areas where you cook or keep food clean

  • Keep uncooked meat and poultry separate from produce and other foods when shopping for and storing groceries.
  • After handling raw poultry, wash your hands, cutting boards, countertops, cutlery, and utensils.
  • Before eating raw fruits and vegetables, thoroughly wash them.
  • Clean your kitchen because raw food products can contaminate food, kitchen tools, and surfaces.

Avoid eating unpasteurized foods.

  • Avoid unpasteurized food, including milk and products made from it.

Cooking and storing food at the proper temperatures

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs. Use pasteurized eggs when making items that do not require cooking, such as hollandaise sauce, salad dressing, uncooked pies, or homemade ice cream.
  • Cook raw meat and poultry thoroughly to kill bacteria. Cook your meat, poultry, and hamburgers until the center is no longer pink.
  • Use the appropriate cooking and storing temperatures for your food.
    You can defrost your food in the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave. You should store food in a fridge with a temperature of 40°F or lower or in cold storage with a temperature of 0°F or lower.

Use caution when working with animals

  • It is best to scrub and sanitize your hands with soap after coming into contact with farm animals, pets, animal feces, or animal environments.
  • Avoid contact with animals suffering from diarrhea.
  • Do not consume food in areas where animals are present.

When swimming, use caution.

  • While swimming, avoid swallowing lake or pool water.
  • Anyone having diarrhea should avoid swimming in public pools or lakes, bathing, and preparing food for others.

Even when you are on a new diet such as the Mediterranean diet that contains lots of fresh vegetables you have to make sure to wash them very thoroughly.

I found a video that explains it very well

Can Salmonella Cause Death?

Salmonella can kill you if it spreads to other parts of your body or causes sepsis, but this is extremely unlikely. Despite millions of infections, only 420 people die from Salmonella infections in the United States each year.

In conclusion: When Should you Visit your Doctor?

You should see your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after a few days. You should go to the hospital if you have any signs of severe illness or dehydration. Check with your doctor if:

  • Your fever is high.
  • You have blood in your poop.
  • You are frequently vomiting and cannot keep food or liquids down
  • Your pee is dark in color, or you pee (urine) less than usual.
  • Your mouth or your throat is dry
  • Standing makes you dizzy.

Here are some inquiries to make in the hospital:

  • What can I do at home to manage my symptoms?
  • What is the most effective way to stay hydrated?
  • What should I do if my symptoms worsen or if they change?
  • What symptoms should cause me to contact you or go to the emergency room?
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Peter Jameson

Peter Jameson is passionate about eating healthy food. While he is doing his search for this, he will share that with the Couch Potato Delivery's readers. As an experienced home cook, he knows what to look for in the food delivery services he reviews. You can find more about him here.