Salmonella is a type of bacteria that causes an infection known as salmonellosis. This illness is primarily known for causing symptoms in the digestive system like diarrhea and abdominal cramping, as well as fever. In rare instances, the bacterial infection can spread to the bloodstream and other parts of the body, at which point it can become life-threatening. This is mostly a risk for children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, though it is certainly a concern for anyone infected with salmonella.
What Causes Salmonellosis
Salmonella is most often passed to people through contaminated food. Meat, dairy and egg products are the common culprits, but it can also be found on unwashed fruits and vegetables. Poor hygiene can also be a transmitter of salmonella. If people don’t wash their hands after preparing food, or after handling the feces of pets, then they risk putting themselves and others at risk for developing salmonellosis.
Prevention and Treatment
In most cases, salmonella is killed when meats and other foods are cooked to the proper temperature. Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly is another important step in reducing the risk of salmonellosis. In addition, practicing proper hygiene when preparing meals is crucial. This includes washing hands before and after handling meats and eggs, as well as making sure that raw meat and eggs don't come into contact with uncooked portions of the meal.
Reptiles and birds are the types of pets most likely to carry salmonella. People should wash their hands thoroughly after handling these animals, or any animal feces from any type of pet. People who have young children and immune-compromised or elderly members of their household may want to consider avoiding these types of pets.
Typical salmonellosis treatment includes rest and rehydration. More severe cases may require hospitalization and the administration of antibiotics to help kill the bacteria.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention