Salmonella is among the most common of the foodborne illnesses. Together with Norovirus, they account for the majority of reported foodborne illnesses in the United States each year. This makes outbreaks related to Salmonella common. However, most associate Salmonella poisoning with poultry or eggs. Dairy products and produce have also been known to have linked to Salmonella outbreaks. These include: unpasteurized milk, unpasteurized juices and ciders, alfalfa sprouts, melons, spices, and nuts. Non-food sources like reptiles, amphibians, birds, and pet food and treats have also been discovered sources. People typically become ill after consuming food or beverages contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can also be transmitted through cross-contamination from person to person.
Salmonella has a relatively quick incubation period, about 12 hours to 3 days. The symptoms of Salmonella are the classic symptoms one would relate to food poisoning – fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. In more severe cases, bloody diarrhea, headache, and body ache symptoms may also be experienced. The duration of the illness is relatively short, usually for about 4 to 7 days.
Most healthy adults will recover from Salmonella poisoning without medical treatment. In cases such as these supportive care, through hydration and rest is usually all a physician recommends for treatment. However, those in the high-risk group, are more prone to severe cases and potential long-term complications. People who are very young, over the age of 65, and those who have compromised immune systems should be very cautious of Salmonella infection. In more severe cases, a physician may order antibiotics be used. Medical attention in these instances is highly recommended, especially as Salmonella bacteria have become resistant to some antibiotics. Proper medical diagnosis and evaluation are crucial to prevent further complications.
Like Listeria, Salmonella could become invasive and spread to the bloodstream. This cases a blood infection called bacteremia. In some cases, Salmonella may also cause reactive arthritis in an infected person. Symptoms of reactive arthritis, including inflammation of joints, eyes, reproductive organs, or urinary organs, usually show within 18 days of infection.
Salmonella infections are preventable, as the bacteria is easily killed by cooking and through the pasteurization process. By heating poultry and other concerning foods to a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit, the risk for Salmonella infection is greatly reduced. The risk of infection can also be reduced by avoiding ingestion of raw eggs or egg products, or raw meat, unwashed produce. Practicing good food safety methods, like handwashing, separating ready-to-eat foods from raw meats, and thoroughly cleaning food preparation areas and tools are also helpful in preventing Salmonella infection.
Famous Outbreak: In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked 907 Salmonella Poona cases to cucumbers distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce that were imported from Mexico.