Salmonella is characterized as a highly infectious bacteria linked with foodborne and digestive conditions. The 2 major diseases that is caused by this bacterium include salmonellosis and typhoid fever.
This is caused by Salmonella enteritidis which is described as a diarrheal illness and commonly called gastroenteritis. Since it is linked with animals, it is typically a foodborne disease that spreads via consumption of contaminated food particularly poultry and eggs.
Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi that also spreads via ingestion of contaminated beverages or food. The bacteria are uncommon in developed countries but it is linked with more severe systemic illness. Even though diarrhea can be a symptom, it might be absent in some cases. Typhoid spreads via exposure to chronic carriers.
High-risk foods linked salmonella disease
The outbreaks of salmonella have frequently occurred with animal products such as dairy, unpasteurized milk, eggs, beef and poultry. Nevertheless, since salmonella is shed in animal feces, even fruits and vegetables are prone to contamination.
Additionally, some household pets particularly reptiles (lizards, turtles and snakes) and some birds can transport the bacteria and spread the disease.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The symptoms manifest within 8-72 hours after ingestion of contaminated food and can last 2-7 days which includes the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Avoid raw or undercooked eggs, meat or poultry
- Drink only pasteurized milk and dairy products
- Practice good food preparation and dining habits
- All fruits and vegetables must be thoroughly washed including those who have inedible skins or rinds
- Carefully wash hands after handling animals and their feces
What to do if I have salmonella disease?
In most cases, the infection is self-limited and resolve within a week without the need for antibiotics. Nevertheless, if an individual suspect that he/she has a salmonella infection, a doctor should be consulted.
Some individuals especially the elderly, young children and have weakened immune systems are at risk to severe disease. For those who are at high-risk, the doctor might request a stool sample to test for the presence of salmonella and other microorganisms that trigger similar symptoms.
An infected individual must drink more fluids to prevent dehydration. For high-risk individuals for severe infection, the doctor might prescribe antibiotics.
At the present, there is currently no vaccine available for salmonella enteritidis which is the strain responsible for most cases of food-borne illnesses. There is a vaccine for salmonella typhi which causes typhoid fever. Those who travel to developing countries must consult a doctor at least a week before travel if a vaccine is needed.