Is Salmonella Contagious?

Reviewed on 12/14/2020

What Is Salmonella?

Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, is a culprit in food poisoning -- transmissible from animals, raw food, or direct contact with an infected person or their personal items. Salmonella causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, is a culprit in food poisoning -- transmissible from animals, raw food, or direct contact with an infected person or their personal items. Salmonella causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Salmonella is a bacterial infection that frequently causes food poisoning because it affects the digestive tract and can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Salmonella infection is called salmonellosis.

What Are Symptoms of Salmonella?

Salmonella infection is usually not serious, and most people recover within a week. Symptoms of Salmonella include:

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Fever: usually lasts two or three days
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea 
    • May be watery or bloody
    • Lasts about four to 10 days
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Blood in stool

What Causes Salmonella?

Salmonellosis is caused by infection with Salmonella bacteria. People usually become infected after eating food or touching an animal contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria.

Foods that commonly have Salmonella bacteria include: 

  • Chicken 
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Raw and undercooked meat
  • Raw fruits or vegetables

People can also get salmonellosis from touching certain animals, such as chickens, ducks, and turtles.

People at high risk of severe illness from Salmonella include: 

  • People with a weak immune system
  • Babies under 1 year old
  • Adults older than 50 years

Is Salmonella Contagious?

Salmonella is contagious and is transmitted from person-to-person by direct contact such as kissing or sexual activity and indirect contact such as sharing contaminated eating utensils. 

Some Salmonella species can be transmitted from animals such as chickens, ducks, and turtles to humans, usually by direct contact. 

Salmonellosis can be contagious for several weeks to months after symptoms fade.

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How Is Salmonella Diagnosed?

Salmonella infection is usually diagnosed with a history of symptoms. Tests may not be needed if symptoms are not severe. 

For patients at high risk of severe symptoms from Salmonella infection, a stool test may be used to check for Salmonella bacteria, however, results can take two to three days and a doctor may recommend starting treatment before results are returned.

What Is the Treatment for Salmonella?

Salmonella infection usually goes away on its own, and treatment may not be needed. 

For patients at high risk of serious illness, antibiotics may be prescribed. 

Home remedies for symptoms of Salmonella infection include: 

  • Rest 
  • Drink plenty of liquids that have water, salt, and sugar, such as water mixed with juice, soda, or broth
  • Eat small amounts if you can
    • Avoid foods high fat, which may worsen symptoms

How Do You Prevent Salmonella?

Salmonella infection can be prevented by: 

  • Washing hands frequently, especially after changing diapers, using the bathroom, blowing your nose, touching animals, or taking out the trash
  • Avoiding foods with raw eggs or raw (unpasteurized) milk
  • Following food safety guidelines, including:
    • Avoiding unpasteurized milk or foods made with it
    • Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly
    • Keeping refrigerators colder than 40°F (4.4°C) and freezers below 0°F (-18°C)
    • Cooking meat and seafood until well done
    • Cooking eggs until the yolk is firm
    • Washing hands, knives, cutting boards, countertops, and utensils after they touch raw food
  • Staying home from work or school if you are sick

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Reviewed on 12/14/2020
References
https://www.uptodate.com/contents/salmonella-infection-the-basics

https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/index.html

https://about-salmonella.com/complications-of-salmonella-infection