Salmonella is a type of bacterial infection. There are several different kinds of salmonella bacteria, however the most common type which causes food poisoning is known as non-typhoidial salmonellae. This particular form of salmonella bacteria resides in the intestinal tracts of animals and humans. Generally, people become ill with this bacterial infection after exposure to foods which have been contaminated with human or animal feces. Some of the following information on salmonella, how you can become exposed to it and what can be done treated, may be helpful.
How Does a Person Get Salmonella?
Most people believe that salmonella infection occurs as a result of eating raw or improperly cooked meat or poultry. However, salmonella can also be found on vegetables and fruits that have not been washed or cooked properly. In addition, a person handling food could very easily spread salmonella to foods if they do not practiced proper personal hygiene and washed their hands after each use of the bathroom. Salmonella is commonly found in the feces of house pets that have diarrhea and reptiles such as lizards, turtles and snakes. For this reason people who handle reptiles are urged to always wash their hands after doing so.
How Is Salmonella Diagnosed?
Most of the time, people will make a full recovery from salmonella prior to any type of diagnosis be needed. However, a physician can determine if a person is suffering from salmonella infection by performing a stool test. In rare cases, the salmonella infection can enter your bloodstream, at which point medical attention will become necessary. If your physician should suspect that the salmonella infection has entered your bloodstream, he/she will more than likely perform a blood test to check for the bacteria. Most of the time the infection is evident with no testing needed but as there are many other bacteria such as chigella that could mimic salmonella infection, often a doctor will opt to perform rule out tests to be sure. Some bacterial infections which cause diarrhea must be treated with specific medications.
What Are the Symptoms of Salmonella?
The most typical symptoms of salmonella are severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. These symptoms usually develop within about twelve to seventy-two hours after exposure to the bacteria. The illness typically lasts for about four days to a week. Most people who become ill with salmonella infection usually recover with no treatment at all. However, diarrhea could become so severe that it may result in dehydration. In these cases it will become necessary to bring the infected person to the hospital to receive intravenous fluids. People who are most susceptible to serious complications as a result of salmonella infection are elderly people, infants, and people who are suffering from an immunological disorder. Most people make a full recovery from diarrhea but in some cases it could take months for bowel habits return to normal. There are also a very small number of people who develop what is called Reiter’s syndrome, a disease that can go on for months or even years and often results in chronic arthritis.
What Is the Treatment for Salmonella?
There is no actual cure for salmonella infection but typically the many symptoms that are associated with it are treated. Because dehydration which is caused by diarrhea is the most typical complication, antidiarrheal drugs as well as fluids are administered to patients in order to counteract this symptom. In most cases, antibiotics will not be necessary unless the infection has escalated and spread to the bloodstream. Patient suffering from diarrhea are urged to rehydrate by drinking small and frequent sips of fluids such as Pedialyte, Lytren, Rehydralyte or Gatorade. It is suggested that at least one 8 ounce glass of fluids be consumed for each bowel movement in order to avoid dehydration. It is also suggested that people suffering from salmonella infection go on eating their normal diet with the exception of spicy foods or foods that are high in sugar and fat. Alcohol and coffee are highly discouraged for at least 72 hours after all symptoms have dissipated.
Is There a Way to Prevent Salmonella?
The best way to prevent a salmonella infection is to be sure that you do not eat any raw or undercooked eggs. Keep in mind that raw eggs may be present in foods such as home-made mayonnaise, cookie dough, caesar dressing, eggnog and home-made hollandaise sauce. Use caution when eating any of these foods. Make sure that meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly, using a meat thermometer to ensure that the foods have been cooked to a temperature which is considered safe. It is also a wise choice to avoid unpasteurized or raw milk, in addition to any other raw dairy products. Before eating fruit or vegetables be sure that you wash each piece thoroughly, and/or peel off the skin. Make sure that you wash your hands very well before handling any food. If you know that you have been exposed to salmonella, do not prepare or handle food for other people. There is a very good chance you could transmit the infection to them. If you have children, it is not recommended that you have reptiles for pets.
While salmonella is not generally serious, secondary complications could arise. For this reason it is very important to make sure you take any and all precautions to protect you and your family from this bacterium. If you suspect that you or anyone in your family may have been exposed to salmonella bacteria, seek medical attention if any of the symptoms should become severe. Keep in mind that infants and older adults run a much higher risk of serious, and often fatal complications.