Salmonellosis is a type of
food poisoning caused by the Salmonella enterica bacterium.
There are many different kinds of these bacteria. Salmonella serotype Typhimurium and Salmonella serotype Enteritidis are the
most common types in the United States.
Salmonellosis is more common
in the summer than in the winter. Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. Young children, older adults, and people who have
impaired immune systems are the most likely to have
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You can get
salmonellosis by eating food contaminated with salmonella. This can happen in
the following ways:
Food may be contaminated during food
processing or food handling.
Food may become contaminated by the
unwashed hands of an infected food handler. A frequent cause is a food handler
who does not wash his or her hands with soap after using the
Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets,
especially those with diarrhea. You can become infected if you do not wash your
hands after contact with these feces.
Reptiles, baby chicks and
ducklings, and small rodents such as hamsters are particularly likely to carry
Salmonella. You should always wash your hands immediately after handling one of
these animals, even if the animal is healthy. Adults should also be careful
that children wash their hands after handling reptiles, pet turtles, baby chicks or
ducklings, or small rodents.
Beef, poultry, milk, and eggs are most often infected
with salmonella. But vegetables may also be contaminated. Contaminated foods
usually look and smell normal.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of salmonellosis
include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. They develop 12 to 72 hours
after infection, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover
without treatment. But diarrhea and dehydration may be so severe that it is
necessary to go to the hospital. Older adults, infants, and those who have impaired
immune systems are at highest risk.
If you only have diarrhea, you
usually recover completely, although it may be several months before your bowel
habits are entirely normal. A small number of people who are infected with
Reiter's syndrome, a disease that can last for months
or years and can lead to chronic