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What is

Salmonella poisoning is the most frequently reported cause of foodborne illness. Two types, Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium, are the most common in the United States and account for half of all human infections. Food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria may cause salmonellosis, a foodborne illness.

Every year, approximately 42,000 cases of salmonella poisoning are reported in the U.S.

Salmonella is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium that can cause diarrheal illness in humans. They are passed from the feces of people or animals to other people or other animals

For over 100 years Salmonella germs have been known to cause illness. They were discovered by an American scientist named Daniel E. Salmon, for whom they are named.

The Salmonella family includes over 2,300 serotypes of bacteria which are one-celled organisms too small to be seen without a microscope.

What are the symptoms
of Salmonella poisoning?

Most people experience diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 6 to 72 hours after the contaminated food was eaten. Symptoms usually begin six hours to six days after infection and last four to seven days

Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

Salmonella strains sometimes cause infection in urine, blood, bones, joints, or the nervous system (spinal fluid and brain), and can cause severe disease.

If you have the following symptoms you should seek health care immediately:

  • Signs of dehydration
  • Prolonged vomiting that prevents keeping liquids down
  • Diarrhea for more than 2 days in adults, or more than 24 hours in children
  • Severe pain in the abdomen or rectum
  • A fever higher than 101ºF  (38.33ºC)
  • Stools containing blood or pus
  • Stools that are black and tarry
The rate of diagnosed salmonella infections in children less than five years old is higher than the rate in all other persons.
It is estimated that approximately 420 persons die each year with acute salmonellosis.

How common is
Salmonella poisoning?

CDC estimates Salmonella  bacteria cause about 1.35 million infections, and 26,500 hospitalizations in the United States every year. Food is the source for most of these illnesses.

Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis

Determining that Salmonella is the cause of the illness is based on laboratory tests that can identify Salmonella in the stool of an infected person. Once Salmonella has been identified, further testing can determine its specific type.

It is estimated that approximately 420 persons die each year with acute salmonellosis. Some strains are antibiotic resistant.

how do people get infected with Salmonella?

People can get Salmonella infection from a variety of sources, including:

  • Eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water
  • Touching infected animals, their feces, or their environment

How do I know
if I have Salmonella poisoning?

Diagnosing Salmonella infection requires testing a specimen (sample), such as stool (poop) or blood. Testing can help guide treatment decisions.

Infection is diagnosed when a laboratory test detects Salmonella bacteria in stool, body tissue, or fluids. The test could be a culture that isolates the bacteria or a culture-independent diagnostic test (CIDT) that detects genetic material of the bacteria.

Who has the greatest risk?

Salmonella infections can be life-threatening especially for infants, young children and pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Older adults and those with weaker immune systems (individuals living with HIV, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, or transplant patients) are also at a higher risk for foodborne illness.

Are there Long-Term Consequences to a Salmonella Infection?

Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal.

A small number of persons with Salmonella develop reactive arthritis, which is characterized by joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis which is difficult to treat.

Antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in whether or not the person develops arthritis. Other complications are aortic aneurysm within three months after infection and ulcerative colitis within one year after infection.

What are the treatment options for a salmonella infection?

Most people recover without specific treatment. Antibiotics are typically used only to treat people with severe illness. Patients should drink extra fluids as long as diarrhea lasts. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the person needs to be hospitalized.

In rare cases, infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other parts of the body. In these people, Salmonella can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

check out more from the CDC   

More Information
about preventing salmonella

Foods Linked to U.S. Salmonella Outbreaks

Past U.S. outbreaks of salmonellosis have been associated with meat products, poultry products, raw or undercooked eggs and dough, dairy products, fruits, leafy greens, raw sprouts, fresh vegetables, nut butters and spreads, pet foods and treats.

Any raw food of animal origin (such as meat, poultry, milk and dairy products, eggs, seafood), and some fruits and vegetables may carry Salmonella bacteria. The bacteria can survive to cause illness if meat, poultry, and egg products are not cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer. With fruits and vegetables, it is imperative that they are thoroughly washed.

Safe food handling practices are necessary to prevent bacteria on raw food from causing illness. Salmonella can cause foodborne illness (salmonellosis) through cross-contamination, e.g., when juices from raw meat or poultry come in contact with ready-to-eat foods, such as salads.

Food may also become contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler who might or might not be showing symptoms.

Advice for Restaurants and Retailers

In the event that retailers and/or other food service operators are found to have handled recalled or other potentially contaminated food in their facilities, they should:

  • Contact their local health department and communicate to their customers regarding possible exposure to Salmonella.
  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops, and utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wash and sanitize display cases and surfaces used to potentially store, serve, or prepare potentially contaminated foods.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process. 
  • Conduct regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of cutting boards and utensils used in processing to help minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination. 

Diana's Salmonella Story

Preventing Foodborne Illness at Home

Consumers should follow these steps:

  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops, and utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used. 
  • Wash and sanitize surfaces used to serve or store potentially contaminated products. 
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process. 
  • Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind.
  • People with pets should take special care to avoid cross-contamination when preparing their pet’s food. Be sure to pick up and thoroughly wash food dishes as soon as pets are done eating, and prevent children, the elderly, and any other people with weak immune systems from handling or being exposed to the food or pets that have eaten potentially contaminated food.

stop foodborne illness
is changing
the face of
salmonella in poultry

Join Us

Americans Overwhelmingly Support Stronger Poultry Production Regulations

A new nationwide poll of 1,000 registered voters reveals incredibly high support for stricter regulations on poultry production aimed at reducing Salmonella poisoning and other illnesses.

The Current State of Salmonella in Poultry

  • Consumers want to be able to trust that the food they eat is safe.
  • Illnesses from Salmonella and Campylobacter, which are commonly found on poultry, account for 70 percent of the foodborne illnesses tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • These illnesses don’t stem from the unlawful distribution of contaminated chicken. Instead, under rules set by the Department of Agriculture, poultry processors can legally distribute their products even if they know they may contain harmful bacteria.
  • These bacteria sicken 3 million people and cost about $6 billion annually.
  • While the federal government set targets for decreased Salmonella and Campylobacter infections as part of its Healthy People 2020 goals, released in 2010, the U.S. failed to meet those targets. Rates of illnesses caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter have remained essentially unchanged.
  • Progress on reducing foodborne illness has been at a standstill, while scientific knowledge of Salmonella has greatly increased and recognized best practices for Campylobacter and other pathogens has advanced.
  • Science tells us that current performance standards do not effectively target the particular types of Salmonella and the levels of bacteria that pose the greatest risks of illness, and the overall regulatory framework does not adequately harness modern tools for preventing and verifying control of the bacteria that are making people sick.
  • Many consumers mistakenly wash poultry before cooking, which increases the risk of contamination of ready-to-eat foods and surfaces anywhere within splashing distance.
  • Proper handling and cooking of poultry is the one thing that will eliminate any risk of foodborne illness. The burden of reducing salmonella and campylobacter infections falls heavily on consumers, who are urged to cook poultry thoroughly to kill the pathogens.
  • Consumers, however, cannot control their kitchens down to a microbe.

Our message to FSIS: Establish Enforceable Standards Targeting Salmonella Types of Greatest
Public Health Concern

Stop Foodborne Illness, together with coalition partners CSPI, CFA and Consumer Reports, as well as STOP constituent advocates petition the USDA/FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) to establish enforceable poultry standards.

Meanwhile, my wife, in the other room, had no idea what was going on.  In fact, she thought that I had been rather rude and was gradually getting angry that I had not come out to tell her about my interviews, and say hello to her mother! 

Within 30 minutes … I no longer had the strength to stand.  I had a brief pause, and found myself lying on the floor of the bathroom.  Covered in vomit and diarrhea, I reached into the pocket of my pants, pulled out my phone and texted “help” to my wife. 

salmonella stories