We hear a lot about the threats and dangers of having salmonella poisoning. We read about how chicken eggs can be contaminated by salmonella and how important it is to cook your food properly. But what is salmonella poisoning? How do you know you are infected by it? What are the salmonella poisoning symptoms?
What is salmonella poisoning?
Salmonella poisoning, or salmonellosis, is a type of food poisoning caused by salmonella bacteria. It means that it is a food-borne illness contacted through consumption of food contaminated with the salmonella bacteria.
The salmonella bacteria are usually found in eggs, poultry, meat, and unprocessed milk. They can also be found in water. Other animals such as turtles, birds, and rodents may also be carriers of the bacteria. There are various types of salmonella bacteria. Most types usually cause food poisoning. But there is one type that causes typhoid fever. The typhoid-causing type is quite rare especially in the western part of the world.
Causes of salmonella poisoning
The main cause of salmonella poisoning is eating food contaminated with salmonella. But there are various ways that the food can be contaminated with salmonella. Below are some of the ways that the disease may spread:
• Mishandling of food. When the food handler does not wash his/her hands with soap and water before and after preparing the food.
• Food may be contaminated during the preparations.
• Animal feces can be a source of salmonella. Feces of some pets, especially animals with diarrhea, can have salmonella. It can be passed to people if the person does not wash his/her hands after coming in contact with the feces.
• Reptiles, chicks, ducklings, and small rodents (hamsters) are most likely to carry salmonella. If the person does not wash his/her hands after handling these animals, he/she is most likely to be infected with salmonella.
Eggs, poultry, meat, and milk are the foods that are most likely to be contaminated with salmonella. But vegetables may also be contaminated, especially those that are harvested from the ground.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning
The symptoms of salmonella poisoning are very much like those of other food poisoning types. The main symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In some cases of salmonella poisoning, fever can also be observed. The symptoms develop 12 to 73 hours after contacting the disease.
The symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the infection. In mild cases, there are fewer symptoms experienced. Diarrhea lasts for only a couple of days with only 2 to 3 stools per day. And most mild types of salmonella poisoning clear up within 4 to 7 days, requiring only rest and rehydration. More severe cases of salmonellosis may lead to excessive diarrhea and stomach cramps. And in such cases, antibiotics may be prescribed.
Complications may arise from salmonella poisoning. It could lead to Reiter’s syndrome (reactive arthritis).