Salmonellosis is a gastrointestinal infection caused by members of the salmonella bacteria; including Salmonella typhi, S. paratyphi, S. typhimurium, S. enteriditis, S. hadar, S. arizonae etc. It is characterized by fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. It is spread primarily through ingestion of food or water contaminated by animal or human feces.

Where does it occur?

I t occurs worldwide.

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted primarily by ingesting food and water contaminated with human or animal fecal material. Many animals like pet turtles, iguanas, snakes and chicks carry the bacteria and can serve as sources of transmission through unwashed hands.

It is contagious from person to person by ingesting fecal material of an infected individual through soiled hands.

It is a common source of outbreaks related to egg, egg products, milk and dairy products. It is also implicated in outbreaks related to vegetable produce due to contamination in processing or harvesting. Recently there has been a nationwide outbreak in the United States related to contaminated peanut butter.

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is contagious from person to person by ingesting fecal material of an infected individual through soiled hands.

What is the risk for travelers?

Generally the risk is low, but increased in travelers to developing nations who eat adventurously.

How soon after exposure will one develop symptoms?

Symptoms generally develop 12-24 hours after ingestion but can occur up to 3 days after.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms can start with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The volume of stools is moderate and there is usually no blood or pus. There is associated fever, chills, body aches, headache and crampy abdominal pain.

Occasionally the bacteria spreads to the blood stream and may localize to other organs causing infectious arthritis with swollen painful joints or spine, pneumonia with cough and productive phlegm, meningitis with headache and stiff neck, obstruction of the gall bladder with jaundice and right side upper abdominal pain and infection of the heart valves with fever, shortness of breath and fatigue.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

Isolation of the salmonella bacteria from stool or blood confirms the diagnosis.

Is there any treatment?

Antibiotics in the fluoroquinolone family like ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin are effective.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Practice strict hand washing; especially after handling animals, handling fresh meats and eat only in places that have a modicum of sanitation.

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