Salmonella is a common food poisoning infection caused by bacteria affecting the intestinal tract. Salmonella is the name of the bacteria that lives in every human being and animal intestines and are regularly flushed out through feces. The main source of getting salmonella infection is by eating contaminated food and water. Typical symptoms of this infection are fever, diarrhea and severe abdominal pain.
Very often this does not require any treatment as the body’s immunity will fight and destroy the bacteria. Many cases go unnoticed since it gets cured on its own. Salmonella infection is prevalent in summer months when compared with winter. And young children and people with weakened immunity are more likely to get this infection than healthy others.
The main source of getting salmonella infection is by eating contaminated food and water. Uncooked foods, foods that are not processed well, and foods that are not handled with hygienic methods in the processing center are the possible sources of contamination. Eating raw meat and raw seafood can also make one prone to get salmonella infection. It can be infected to humans when they come in contact with fecal particles of pets. This is more particular while washing the fecal particles of animals that are infected with diarrhea.
You need to wash your hands properly after removing the feces of animals. Salmonella bacterium is also present in reptiles, chuckling and ducks. It is very important to wash the hands with antiseptic soap solution after handling these animals. Salmonella infection can also occur through milk and other dairy products and eggs. Salmonella bacterium lives in birds, animals, reptiles and humans for long and when a man eats the meat of such animals he is likely to get infection.
In rare cases, fruits and vegetables can also cause salmonella when they carry contaminated bacteria in some form. Very often foods get contaminated when people who handle it do not wash their hands properly. Some people become chronic carriers of this bacterium and transmit this infection through urine and feces.
Major symptoms of salmonella infection are diarrhea and fever. It takes a day or two for developing these symptoms after getting infected with bacteria. These symptoms will not extend more than 5-7 days and will disappear without any treatment. However for some people it can cause severe diarrhea leading to dehydration. Young children and older adults are under risk of getting dehydrated and hence need to be hospitalized if diarrhea symptoms do not subside after 2-3 days.
Apart from diarrhea, it can also cause nausea and vomiting sensation in adults. Some people may get abdominal cramps, fever, chills, and headache and body pain along with diarrhea. In rare cases there can be bloody discharge in the stool. Though the symptoms subside after few days still it may take several days or even months for your bowel movement to get back to normal.
The doctor will look for the above symptoms after collecting the medical history of the patient. He would physically examine the infected person and will collect information about the food he/she has taken a day or two before. Tests for confirming salmonella are blood culture, stool analysis and urine analysis.
Risk Factors :
You are likely to get infected with salmonella bacterium if you have pets, reptiles, or birds in your home. People who live in groups like nursing homes and hospitals are more likely to get infected than others. Salmonella infection is common in countries with improper and poor sanitation facility.
Certain diseases like inflammatory bowel disease can make you prone to get infected with salmonella. Taking regular antacids and long usage of antibiotics poses great risk of getting this infection. Complications of salmonella are very rare. It can cause dehydration if diarrhea continues for long period. In case the bacterium enters into your blood it can cause bacteremia affecting the tissues of brain and spine.
No treatment is required for salmonella as long as there is no complication. Antibiotics are given only if the doctor thinks that infection has spread into the bloodstream. Dehydration is the worst complication that can occur due to this disease and it can be prevented by taking plenty of liquids and electrolytes.
Take nutritious diet for gaining immunity to fight over the infectious bacteria. Avoid taking fatty foods and sugar items, spicy foods and alcohol until the symptoms are completely gone. In severe cases, anti-diarrhea medications like loperamide are given to stop loose bowel and abdominal cramps. Children and older adults must stay hydrated well even if there is no infection like salmonella. Having rehydration solution like Pedialyte at home is the best way to prevent dehydration.
Salmonella spreads only through contaminated foods and fecal particles. Hence you can easily prevent it by following good hygiene while handling pet animals and birds and after using toilet. Wash your hands properly whenever you use toilet or change diaper or involve in cleaning up the feces of your pets or birds. Do not keep the raw meat along with processed food in your refrigerator. Use separate knives and cutting boards for handling raw meat. Avoid eating raw eggs and unpasteurized milk.