Salmonella Food Poisoning
Salmonellosis, or salmonella food poisoning, affects approximately 142,000 Americans every year. The infection is usually caused by Salmonella enterica, which generally infects chicken and cattle, although it can infect domestic animals such as cats and hamsters. Over 2000 strains of the bacteria have been described.
The Salmonella genus is a pretty hardy little bacteria, and can survive for weeks outside a living body. Refridgeration and freezing do not kill Salmonella, although cooking will.
Salmonella causes salmonellosis, typhoid fever, and paratyphoid fever.
Infection by the Salmonella bacteria generally occurs from eating infected, unclean, or undercooked:
- Chicken (especially if unhygienically thawed)
as well as feces from sick or infected humans or animals and polluted water. A connection has been made between birds and reptiles and Salmonella infection.
Incubation time for Salmonella infection is 12 to 16 hours, and can persist for up to 6 months, even if symptoms only last for a few days.
Salmonella enter the epithelial cells of the intestinal tract and multiply within a vesicle inside the cell in the intestinal wall. The body has an inflammatory response to this invasion that generally results in diarrhea. Occasionally the bacteria cross the epithelial cell membrane and can enter the lymphatic system.
Symptoms of Salmonella gastroenteritis include
- abdominal pain and cramping
Symptoms of typhoid fever include the above, but further include
- fever above 102 F
- rose-colored spots on chest
- liver and/or spleen enlargement
In the United States, typhoid fever usually occurs in people who have just returned from a foreign country where the disease is common.
Antidiarrheals, such as Imodium, can help cramping and diarrhea, but may also prolong the infection. If your doctor thinks the bacteria have entered your bloodstream, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Otherwise, rest and hydration are important to give your immune system a boost to fight off the bacteria and counteract the loss of water from the diarrhea.
Salmonella food poisoning is easy to prevent.
Wash your hands after
- Using the bathroom
- Changing a diaper
- Handling raw meat or eggs
- Cleaning up pet fecal matter
Avoid eating raw eggs, such as raw cookie dough, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, and eggnog. If you must use raw eggs in a recipe, buy pasteurized eggs.
When preparing food, wash utensils, cutting boards, and plates immediately if they have held raw meat. Do not use the same cutting board to cut raw meat as you use to cut vegetables, and if you must, wash the cutting board thoroughly with hot water first.
Store raw meat separately from other food items in your refrigerator.