What are the Symptoms of a Salmonella Infection?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2018
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Salmonella is a bacterial infection easily contracted by humans. To become infected, a person must ingest the bacteria, which is found in a variety of places. Undercooked or badly prepared food, drinking or using contaminated water, even handling reptiles can cause infection. To prevent salmonella infection from becoming a serious illness, look carefully for any of the following symptoms.

Most typically, salmonella infection first presents with common food poisoning symptoms. Stomach pain, nausea and vomiting are among the most common initial symptoms. Fever, headaches, and watery bowel movements can also be signs. Symptoms typically first occur within one to three days of exposure, and can last up to a week. Even after symptoms subside, you may feel fatigued and experience dehydration.

People with healthy immune systems may experience these symptoms and return to normal, as their bodies are able to clear out the salmonella infection without medical attention. However, salmonella infection can become a serious and even life-threatening illness, particularly for those with weaker immune systems, such as very young children. If symptoms worsen or do not subside after a few days, a doctor should be consulted.


Although the majority of salmonella infections clear naturally, they can progress to much more serious and even fatal illnesses. If the bacteria enters the bloodstream, infection in brain or spinal tissues is possible, resulting in potentially life-threatening diseases like meningitis. Additionally, severe salmonella infection with the S.typhi bacteria can lead to typhoid fever, characterized by a spot-like rash and coughing as well as stomach symptoms. If you develop any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.

Focusing on prevention is the best way to avoid contracting salmonella or other bacteria related infections. Be certain to cook all foods to recommended internal temperatures, and wash vegetables and fruit thoroughly before consuming. If you own or play with reptiles, wash hands carefully after handling, especially before eating.

According to experts, exposure to salmonella bacteria is extremely common, mostly due to carelessness. To decrease your chances of becoming ill, avoid any restaurants with questionable cleanliness or a history of health code violations. However, recent years have seen an upswing in mass infections traced back to reputable distributors and companies, such as the peanut butter outbreak of 2009 which affected consumers in 42 states and led to one of the largest recalls of product in United States history. Be certain to avoid any products currently under government recall and throw out or return any food item already purchased that is recalled.



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