Salmonella is a Gram-Negative enterobacteria that can be found in cold-blooded animals, warm-blooded animals and the environment. Salmonella infections are zoonotic meaning they can be transferred between humans and other animals. This bacteria is usually transferred via ingestion of contaminated food. This bacteria is responsible for one of the most common intestinal infections in the US known as Salmonellosis. Another serotype known as Salmonella typhi is responsible for paratyphoid and typhoid fever. Typhoid fever is uncommon in the United States and is more common in third world countries.
Most people that become infected with Salmonella get it from ingesting contaminated foods like raw meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and raw eggs. Feces can get on meat and poultry during butchering, whereas, it contaminates seafood, fruits, and vegetables via contaminated water or dirty counter surfaces. It can be found on eggshells from feces, or in the yolk, contaminated in utero. It can also be obtained through birds and aquatic turtles. Proper hand washing is important after tending to these pets. Gastric acidity kills most bacteria that enters the stomach. In order for this infection to make a healthy person sick a large quantity of highly concentrated bacteria must be ingested. Drugs such as antacids and antibiotics, or disorders like irritable bowel syndrome can weaken the effects of gastric juices. Only a small amount of bacteria can cause serious complications for infants and small children. It has been proven that infants can actually acquire Salmonellosis through inhaling dust that contain the bacteria. The diarrhea that accompanies this illness can severely dehydrate a baby and cause toxicosis. Signs of severe dehydration include sunken eyes with decrease tear production, dry mouth, and decreased urinary output. When Salmonella enters the bloodstream it can cause extraintestinal infections or bactermia. Extraintestinal infections can occur in children and adults such as meningitis, endocarditis, pneumonia, suppurative arthritis or Reiter's syndrome , and osteomyelitis. The elderly, immunocompromised, and transplant patients are also susceptible to severe complications from this infection.
People that acquire Salmonellosis should expect diarrhea that is often mucopurulent and sometimes bloody accompanied with abdominal pains. Some experience nausea and vomiting along with fever, chills, headache, and muscle pain. Doctors can test for this infection with a stool sample. For suspected bactermia cases a blood test may be ordered. Antidiarrheals and antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin can be given to treat infections. Supportive therapy for fever and dehydrations can be obtained if necessary.
Here are some little known facts about Salmonella. Some people are carriers of this bacteria and are considered infected. They can infect other people. Salmonella can survive outside of the body for weeks. It can survive in a dry environment for weeks and in a wet environment for months. It has been found in feces after 2.5 years. It cannot be destroyed by freezing. Ultraviolet radiation and heat kills it. Food should be cooked for at least 10 minutes at 167 degrees to destroy it. At the time of writing this, there is a massive egg recall due to Salmonella across several states. Tune to your local news to see if you have been affected by this.