Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called salmonella. Salmonella can grow in a variety of places, such as water, raw meat, seafood, certain pets, and eggs.
Salmonellosis is caused by ingestion of a strain of bacteria called salmonella. After the bacteria are ingested, within 6-48 hours they will pass through the stomach to the intestine where inflammation occurs and spreads.
Factors that increase your chance of salmonellosis include:
- Eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, fish, or seafood
- Eating unpasteurized dairy products
- Eating other contaminated foods
- Drinking contaminated water
- Handling reptiles, especially turtles
- Taking antibiotics
- A compromised immune system, such as in:
- Elderly persons
- People with HIV/AIDS
- People with low stomach acidity, such as those who take medication that reduces stomach acid
Symptoms occur within 12-72 hours and may include:
- Abdominal cramps
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may test your stool or blood to confirm presence of the bacteria
Over-the-counter medications or oral rehydration solutions may be used to treat the symptoms of salmonellosis. The symptoms will usually improve on their own within 2-5 days. If symptoms are severe, talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
- Rehydration therapy— Oral or IV fluid replacement is needed; electrolytes may also be added to the solution.
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen—Over-the-counter pain relievers may be used to reduce fever or treat headaches and other pain.
- Antibiotics—These are required only in severe cases where blood infection may occur. Antibiotic use in non-severe cases does not improve a person's outcome. It may cause the bacteria to stay longer in your system.
To help reduce your chance of salmonellosis:
- Frequently wash hands and surfaces.
- Wash hands and cutting boards with hot soapy water before and after handling raw foods.
- Wash utensils thoroughly after using them on raw meats, fish, or poultry.
- Do not use the same cutting boards for raw meats and raw vegetables.
- Do not drink unpasteurized milk.
- Drink bottled or purified water when traveling.
- Cook all foods to appropriate temperatures.
- Place foods in the refrigerator promptly.
- Wash hands after handling reptiles.
- Certain medications, like those to reduce stomach acid, may increase your risk for salmonellosis. Talk to your doctor about this risk.
- Reviewer: Marcie Sidman, MD
- Review Date: 06/2016 -
- Update Date: 05/11/2013 -