Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

Highly Contagious Salmonella Infections Seen in Nursing Homes

WebMD Health News

May 23, 2001 -- Most people are familiar with bacteria such as salmonella causing food poisoning -- the painful cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting that follow a meal that was undercooked or improperly stored or handled. But CDC scientists in Atlanta are reporting a far more serious outbreak of salmonella -- one that doesn't come from food, but was passed from person to person and didn't respond to the antibiotic used most often to treat the infection.

The first recorded outbreak of infection with this resistant type of salmonella occurred in nursing homes in Oregon; it is described in the May 24 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. But CDC epidemiologist Frederick J. Angulo, DVM, PhD, tells WebMD that another outbreak has since hit a Florida hospital and nursing home.

What is particularly troubling about these outbreaks is the evidence that infection was spread by patient-to-patient contact, which suggests this type of salmonella is much more infectious than the previously recognized strains.

"Usually it takes a lot of salmonella, a very high dose, to infect someone," says Glenn Morris, MD, chairman of the department of epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Morris, a nationally recognized expert on salmonella, was not involved in the study.

The fact that such a high dose is usually needed is why "we don't see outbreaks of salmonella in day care centers," says Angulo. But with this specific type of salmonella bacteria, he says, it only takes about 10 of the organisms to infect another person. That means careful hand washing by patients must be ensured and other strenuous infection control measures be implemented and strictly enforced, he says.

This type of salmonella infection hasn't been seen in the U.S. since the 1960s. Before then, it was common for patients in hospitals to pass a variety of bacteria -- including salmonella -- to other patients.

"But then we instituted infection-control measures, and [this type of] infections became rare," Angulo says. "In developing countries, salmonella outbreaks [in hospitals] are still very common."

What's most concerning about this new strain of salmonella is that it is difficult to treat. Almost all salmonella infections are easily treated with antibiotics such as Cipro, but this new strain is the exception.

Today on WebMD

Eating for a longer, healthier life.
woman biking
How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
fast healthy snack ideas
how healthy is your mouth
dog on couch
doctor holding syringe
champagne toast
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Man feeding woman
two senior women laughing