Also Known As: Salmonellosis, Salmonella
Salmonellosis is an infection with Salmonella bacteria. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. In most cases, the illness lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases the diarrhoea may be so severe that the patient becomes dangerously dehydrated and must be taken to a hospital. At the hospital, the patient may receive intravenous fluids to treat the dehydration, and may be given medications to provide symptomatic relief, such as fever reduction. In severe cases, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites, and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to develop severe illness. Some people afflicted with salmonellosis later experience reactive arthritis, which can have long-lasting, disabling effects. There are different kinds of Salmonella, including S. bongori and S. enterica.
The type of Salmonella usually associated with infections in humans, nontyphoidal Salmonella, is usually contracted from sources such as:
- Poultry, pork, and beef, if the meat is prepared incorrectly or is infected with the bacteria after preparation.
- Infected eggs, egg products, and milk when not prepared, handled, or refrigerated properly.
- Reptiles, such as turtles, lizards, and snakes, which may carry the bacteria in their intestines.
- Tainted fruits and vegetables.
The typhoidal form of Salmonella can lead to typhoid fever. Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness, and about 400 cases are reported each year in the United States, and 75% of these are acquired while traveling out of the country. It is carried only by humans and is usually contracted through direct contact with the fecal matter of an infected person. Typhoidal Salmonella is more commonly found in poorer countries, where unsanitary conditions are more likely to occur, and can affect as many as 21.5 million persons each year.