Genus Salmonella comprises many bacteria and some of them are capable of causing food poisoning in humans. Salmonellosis is a common foodborne infection that affects the intestinal tract. The bacteria is normally found in the digestive tract of animals and humans and infection can be easily transmitted if one consumes contaminated food. The infection can also occur in case of intake of contaminated water.
Clinical Characteristics of Salmonella Infection
This intestinal infection is typically accompanied by fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Incubation period for salmonella infection ranges from several hours to 2 days. The symptoms and signs usually do not last longer than 72 hours and the infection is not serious for healthy individuals. They recover completely. Some people may develop dehydration due to profuse diarrhea and improper intake of water and other fluids.
Additional symptoms of salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle pain and fever is sometimes accompanied by chills. In some people there is blood in the stool.
If the condition is not treated properly, certain people may become permanent carriers of the bacterium and a chronic source of infection.
Prevention of Salmonella Infection
Salmonella infection is considered highly contagious, but with proper measures of precaution can be successfully prevented. The most important thing when it comes to proper protection is impeccable hygiene.
Thorough hand washing is a must. By doing so one can prevent contamination of food he/ she is preparing or consuming. Hands are supposed to be properly washed each time a person uses the toilet, handles any kind of food (particularly raw meat, poultry and fresh fruit and vegetables) and prior every meal. Furthermore, hand washing is obligatory when changing baby's diapers, cleaning up pet feces and touching reptiles and birds.
Cross-contamination can be prevented with adequate raw meat storage as well as proper storage of poultry and sea food. Such products must be separated from other foods in the refrigerator. Furthermore, it is advisable to have two cutting boards, one for raw meat and the other for fruits and vegetables.
And finally, it is essential to avoid consuming raw eggs and any dishes that contain raw eggs (homemade ice-cream, mayonnaise, eggnog etc.). Raw eggs can be only used if they have been previously pasteurized. By cooking food and maintaining impeccable hygiene during food preparation one can successfully prevent salmonella infection.
Treatment for Salmonella Infection
If none of the mentioned measures succeed to prevent salmonella infection from developing, one needs to be properly treated. Namely, it is essential to prevent dehydration with sufficient intake of water and other fluids. Severe cases of dehydration require hospitalization and intravenous administration of fluids. Some patients may benefit from antidiarrheal medications such as loperamide. And finally, some patients must be administered antibiotics, particularly immunocompromised patients.