Salmonella, the name of a group of bacteria, is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States. Usually, symptoms last 4-7 days and most people get better without treatment. But, Salmonella can cause more serious illness in older adults, infants, and persons with chronic diseases. Salmonella is killed by cooking and pasteurization.
Salmonella infection usually occurs when a person eats food contaminated with the feces of animals or humans carrying the bacteria. Salmonella outbreaks are commonly associated with eggs, meat and poultry, but these bacteria can also contaminate other foods such as fruits and vegetables. Foods that are most likely to contain Salmonella include raw or undercooked eggs, raw milk, contaminated water, and raw or undercooked meats.
Salmonella is generally divided into two categories. Non-typhoidal Salmonella is the most common form, and is carried by both humans and animals. Most serotypes of Salmonella, such as Salmonella Javiana and Salmonella Enteritidis cause non-typhoidal Salmonella. Typhoidal Salmonella, which causes typhoid fever, is rare, and is caused by Salmonella Typhi, which is carried only by humans.
Typical symptoms of Salmonella infections:
Appear 6 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food and last for 3 to 7 days without treatment.
- Abdominal Cramps
- Fever of 100 F to 102 F
- Bloody diarrhea
- Body Aches
- The usual sources of these organisms in the environment are drinking and/or irrigation water contaminated by untreated sewage.
- Food: Contaminated eggs, poultry, meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, cheese, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables (alfalfa sprouts, melons), spices, and nuts
- Cross contamination occurs when Salmonella is spread from a contaminated source – a contaminated food or an infected food handler or animal – to other foods or objects in the environment
How Can I Prevent It?
- Avoid eating high-risk foods, including raw or lightly cooked eggs, undercooked ground beef or poultry, and unpasteurized milk
- Keep food properly refrigerated before cooking.
- Clean hands with soap and warm water before handling food. Clean surfaces before preparing food on them.
- Separate cooked foods from ready-to-eat foods. Do not use utensils on cooked foods that were previously used on raw foods and do not place cooked foods on plates where raw foods once were unless it has been cleaned thoroughly.
- Cook foods to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to a safe temperature.
- Chill foods promptly after serving and when transporting from one place to another.
- Wash your hand after contact with animals, their food or treats, or their living environment.