What is salmonellosis?
Salmonellosis is a food borne infection caused by Salmonella bacteria.
Symptoms include sudden stomach pain, diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting. Dehydration may be severe, especially among at risk groups including babies, children and the elderly.
Symptoms usually occur within 12 to 72 hours and usually last 4 to 7 days.
How is salmonellosis spread?
The disease is spread through the "fecal-oral" route; bacteria are shed in the feces of infected people or animals and can infect other people through poor sanitation or hygiene.
Illness may occur after a person eats food, drinks water or comes in contact with infected animals or environments contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
Salmonella can be found in a wide variety of foods, such as raw or undercooked meat, meat products and poultry, unpasteurized dairy products and raw or undercooked eggs. It can also be found in fruits and vegetables.
Cooked, ready-to-eat food can be contaminated when using the same cutting board, plate or utensil to prepare other food items, such as raw meat. Cutting boards, plates and utensils and other surfaces must always be washed and sanitized immediately before cooked or ready-to-eat foods are placed on them.
How do I prevent salmonellosis?
- Always wash your hands after you use the bathroom or change a diaper.
- Some domestic animals and pets, such as chicks, ducklings, turtles, snakes and iguanas, can carry Salmonella bacteria. Wash your hands well after handling these animals or pets and help young children wash their hands. The same applies for visiting petting zoos.
- Do not prepare food if you have Salmonella or another infection that causes diarrhea.
- Wash your hands before, during and after preparing food.
- Thoroughly cook all foods that come from animal sources, particularly poultry, egg products and meat dishes.
- Cook meats and poultry to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F). Use a meat thermometer to make sure the meat is cooked to the proper temperature. If turkey or chicken is cooked with stuffing in it, make sure that both the meat and the stuffing are well cooked to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F).
- Use only pasteurized milk and milk products.
- Do not re-contaminate cooked foods: always place foods on clean, sanitized surfaces that have not been used to prepare other food.
- Do not let raw or cooked foods sit for a long time at room temperature.
- Do not use dirty or cracked eggs.
- Be aware that eating the following foods will increase your risk of Salmonella infection: raw or under-cooked eggs or products containing raw eggs such as eggnogs, uncooked dough, desserts, sauces or homemade ice cream. To reduce your risk of Salmonella infection use liquid whole pasteurized egg products for these and other foods that are not cooked thoroughly.
- Be aware that eating raw or undercooked sprouts can put you at risk of Salmonella infection. If cooked properly, these are not a risk.
- Educate food handlers and persons who prepare food about the importance of the following food safety practices:
- keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold;
- wash hands before, during and after food preparation;
- keep a clean kitchen; and
- protect prepared foods from rodent and insect contamination.
How is salmonellosis treated?
If you have been infected, you may be asked to answer detailed questions and to submit a fecal or stool sample (bowel movement).
Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics if you have a severe case of salmonellosis, another chronic illness or a poor immune system.
For More Information
For more information on hand washing, see HealthLinkBC File #85 Hand Washing for Parents and Children.
For more information on food safety, see HealthLinkBC File #59a Food Safety: Ten Easy Steps to Make Food Safe or visit the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education website at www.canfightbac.org/
For more information on diseases that can spread from animals to people, see HealthLinkBC File #61b Petting Zoo and Open Farm Visits.
For more information on the use of antibiotics for infections, visit the Do Bugs Need Drugs website at www.dobugsneeddrugs.org/.