Salmonella poisoning is the name given to a specific type of food poisoning. It is common throughout the world and over 40,000 cases of Salmonella are confirmed in the United States each year. However, it is believed that about 1.4 million cases of Salmonella occur in the US each year. About 400 of these people will die from Salmonella poisoning each year. It is transmitted by contaminated food, water or by animal feces.
How does salmonella spread?
Salmonella poisoning is caused by the Salmonella bacteria. This bacteria lives in the digestive systems of many animals and can be passed to humans through the feces. Salmonella infections in humans are generally caused by infected food (usually poultry, beef or eggs) that has been improperly cooked or stored. This is generally due to poor kitchen and personal hygiene. Other sources of infection are; polluted water, feces from infected people and contact with reptiles (snakes, turtles, frogs etc.). Most of the salmonella bacteria is destroyed by stomach acid, but high concentrations of the bacteria in infected food leads to the bacteria multiplying quickly.
The symptoms of salmonella poisoning are diarrhea, fever, or abdominal cramps. These symptoms are similar to other infections and laboratory tests are required to make a diagnosis. For most people the infection lasts 5-7 days without incident, but some people will require extra fluids to prevent dehydration. Antibiotics are not routinely prescribed for this bacteria unless it spreads to other body systems. The young, elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. If you suspect food poisoning it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.