What is salmonellosis?
Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning caused by the Salmonella bacterium. There are many different kinds of these bacteria. Salmonella serotype Typhimurium and Salmonella serotype Enteritidis are the most common types in the United States.
Every year approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the U.S. Many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, so the actual number of infections may be 30 or more times greater.1 Salmonellosis is more common in the summer than in the winter. Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. Young children, older adults, and people who have impaired immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections.
What causes salmonellosis?
You can get salmonellosis by eating food contaminated with salmonella. This can happen in the following ways:
Beef, poultry, milk, and eggs are most often infected with salmonella. But vegetables may also be contaminated. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. They develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. But diarrhea and dehydration may be so severe that it is necessary to go to the hospital. Older adults, infants, and those who have impaired immune systems are at highest risk.
If you only have diarrhea, you usually recover completely, although it may be several months before your bowel habits are entirely normal. A small number of people who are infected with salmonellosis develop Reiter's syndrome, a disease that can last for months or years and can lead to chronic arthritis.
How is salmonellosis diagnosed?
Salmonellosis is diagnosed based on a medical history and a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, foods you have recently eaten, and your work and home environments. A stool culture and blood tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis.
How is it treated?
You treat salmonellosis by managing any complications until it passes. Dehydration caused by diarrhea is the most common complication. Antibiotics are not usually needed unless the infection has spread.
To prevent dehydration, take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte). Try to drink a cup of water or rehydration drink for each large, loose stool you have. Soda and fruit juices have too much sugar and not enough of the important electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea, and they should not be used to rehydrate.
Try to stay with your usual diet as much as possible. Eating your usual diet will help you to get enough nutrition. Doctors believe that eating a normal diet will also help you feel better faster. But try to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Also avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee for 2 days after all symptoms have disappeared.
How can you prevent salmonellosis?
To prevent salmonellosis:
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