Salmonella Poisoning

Woman with a stomach ache

Salmonella poisoning, or salmonellosis as it is known by doctors, is a bacteria-caused food poisoning. In the United States, the two most popular types of Salmonella poisoning are Salmonella serotype Typhimurium and Salmonella serotype Enteritidis. Salmonella poisoning is usually experienced more often by children. The FDA actually came up with the 4-inch rule, which has to do with turtle sizes. Apparently, kids were taking mouth-sized turtles and putting them in their mouths. Another interesting fact about Salmonella poisoning is that it generally occurs more in the summer.

Causes

Salmonella poisoning is a type of bacterial infection. There are basically 2 types of salmonella: typhoidal and nontyphoidal. Typhoidal salmonella can lead to typhoid fever. Generally typhoidal salmonella is not contracted in the United States. It usually occurs more frequently in poorer countries. It is passed through fecal matter. So, places that have unsanitary food regulations, or no food regulations at all (i.e. washing your hands after using the toilet) are where the typhoidal type of Salmonella is most likely to occur. Just a note of caution: Typhoid fever can kill you so it’s best to practice caution when you’re on vacation and want to go out for dinner.

The type of Salmonella that is most typical in the United States is nontyphoidal Salmonella. The causes of this type of salmonella include tainted vegetables and fruit, egg and milk products (that have not been prepared, handled or refrigerated the appropriate way), meat (beef, pork and poultry that has not been handled, frozen or refrigerated properly) and reptiles (i.e. turtles, lizards and snakes). Of course you don’t eat reptiles; it’s simply from coming into contact with their skin. The bacteria resides in their intestines. So if you got one in an aquarium, squirming around in it’s own feces, it’s best to make sure you wash your hands well after you’re done racing them around on the carpet.

Signs

Symptoms include: abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea (sometimes there can be blood or mucus in the diarrhea).The symptoms usually turn up around 12 to 72 hours after you have been infected. Salmonella poisoning can last up to 4 to 7 days.

Cures

Some kids in Africa have been found to have antibodies that prevent the bacterial infection of Salmonella. These children are being studied by researchers to see if a possible vaccine could be created. The best cure for typhoidal Salmonella at this point is prevention. In first world countries, such as the United States, government agencies like the FDA have published guidelines that restaurants and other places that handle meats, dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables and sell them to the public have to abide by. And, again, if you’re going on vacation be careful where you eat.

Nontyphoidal Salmonella generally just has to be waited out. As mentioned earlier it only lasts from 4 to 7 days. Sometimes the diarrhea can be so bad that you become dehydrated and might have to go to the hospital. Dehydration is usually the main thing you have to battle when suffering from Salmonella poisoning. Make sure to drink rehydration drinks if dehydration is an issue. In some cases Salmonella poisoning can cause Reiter’s syndrome which is a disease that can lead to arthritis.