Here's a look at what you need to know about Salmonella.
Facts: Salmonellosis, the infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella, is one of the most frequently reported food borne illnesses in the United States.
Salmonella is characterized as a group of rod-shaped bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in humans.
Prono: sal•mo•nel•la. The first "L" is pronounced, unlike the silent "L" in salmon, the fish.
General Information: (Source: CDC) Approximately 42,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States every year. Due to many cases not being diagnosed, the actual number may be considerably larger. Approximately 400 people die each year with acute salmonellosis.
Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, and people.
People become infected by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.
Foods contaminated with Salmonella are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk or eggs, but any food may become contaminated.
It rarely affects the taste, smell, or appearance of food.
Salmonella includes over 2,300 serotypes (species) of bacteria. Salmonella serotypes typhimurium and enteritidis are the most common in the United States and account for half of all human infections.
S. typhimurium is most commonly found in food of an animal origin.
S. enteritidis is mainly associated with poultry and eggs.
Most recently, a specific type of Salmonella Typhimurium, DT104, has emerged that is resistant to many antibiotics. Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 can be found in a broad range of foods.
Salmonella were discovered by American veterinarian Daniel Elmer Salmon.
Symptoms and Treatment: Typical symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Most people experience symptoms within 8 to 72 hours after contaminated food is ingested.
Infections usually resolve in 3-7 days, and mild cases often do not require professional treatment. More severe cases require antibiotics.
Salmonella infections can be life-threatening especially for young children, pregnant women and their fetuses, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. The Salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the blood stream and cause death if not treated early.
A small number of persons infected with Salmonella may develop Reiter's syndrome which causes painful urination, joint pain, and eye irritation. This condition can last for months or years and can lead to chronic arthritis.
Prevention: Avoid cross-contamination of food. Keep uncooked meats separate from other food.
People infected with Salmonella should not prepare food for others.
Proper storage and handling of food helps prevent the growth of Salmonella and thorough cooking destroys the bacteria. Raw or undercooked meat or eggs and raw or unpasteurized dairy products should not be consumed. Produce should be washed very thoroughly.
Wash hands with soap after changing diapers or using the restroom.
Wash hands after handling pets. Reptiles are especially likely to carry Salmonella and it can contaminate their skin. Salmonella is also often found in the intestines of chicks and young birds.
Timeline of recent selected cases in the United States:
Foster Farms brand chicken - 2013 Multistate outbreak of of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farms brand chicken.