Tell me more about disease caused by Salmonella.
Salmonellosis is a gastrointestinal disease caused by bacteria of the Salmonella species. The two most common subtypes of Salmonella causing disease in the United States today are S. tymphimurium and S. enteritidis. It is estimated that 1.4 million Americans experience a Salmonella infection each year, although only a fraction of these are reported to public health authorities.
How is Salmonella transmitted?
Salmonella is spread through the fecal-oral method, or through food that has been contaminated with feces or raw sewage. Many animals also carry Salmonella bacteria and are an important source of infection. Although animal products are most likely to be contaminated with Salmonella, fruits and vegetables have been the sources of outbreaks as well.
What are the symptoms of Salmonellosis?
Approximately 12-72 hours after infection, a person infected with Salmonella may experience fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. If the diarrhea is severe and causes dehydration, an infected person may need to be hospitalized to replace fluid and for antibiotic treatment. Since salmonellosis typically resolves itself in 5-7 days, antibiotic treatment is usually not required.
Occasionally, Salmonella can infect the bloodstream and cause sepsis, or infect the joints and cause a painful, lingering arthritis known as Reiter's Syndrome. The use of antibiotics has no effect on this syndrome.
How is Salmonellosis treated?
Because a Salmonella infection usually resolves itself on its own, antibiotic treatment is usually not given except in cases with complication. Treatment is mainly supportive, and fluids should be provided to prevent dehydration. The use of anti-diarrheal agents, such as Immodium, should NOT be used with an infection of Salmonella.
How can I prevent Salmonellosis?
No vaccine exists for Salmonellosis, so other means of preventing the disease is necessary. The best way to prevent aSalmonella infection is by regular, thorough handwashing techniques. This will also help prevent many other diseases.
CDC Info on salmonellosis: