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What Is Salmonellosis Bacteria?

By Haven Esme
Updated May 17, 2024
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Salmonellosis bacteria is Salmonella, the type of bacteria that causes a salmonellosis infection. There are thousands of species of Salmonella, many of which can cause infection. People can be exposed to this bacteria through contaminated food or by touching certain animals, particularly reptiles.

Infections from salmonellosis bacteria are fairly common. According to ITriage Health, about 1/3 of all diarrhea cases are caused by this infection. The bacteria is more commonly seen in children, the elderly, and people who have weakened immune systems. Salmonellosis usually affects the intestinal tract; however, the bacteria can sometimes enter the blood. Bloodstream infections usually only occur in the very young or the elderly.

Those infected with the bacteria experience various symptoms. Some common symptoms of salmonellosis include nausea, chills, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Severe symptoms may include bloody diarrhea. Not all doctors agree on the best way to treat salmonellosis, with some debate over whether any treatment other than time and rest is needed in most cases.

When it is limited to the digestive system, most people recover on their own from an infection, and do not need antibiotics. It isn't uncommon for individuals to use an acetaminophen to reduce fever and relieve the pain from cramping. In general, antibiotics are not recommended to fight salmonellosis bacteria. In serious cases, some patients may require intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.

One of the best ways to avoid contracting salmonellosis is through preventative measures. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water before and after handling foods, changing a baby's diaper, or handling reptiles. Keeping food at the correct temperature through refrigeration and proper defrosting methods can also help prevent infection. Additionally, the bacteria can spread from eating raw or undercooked meats, eggs, and poultry, so these foods should always be cooked thoroughly.

Certain foods are more prone to containing the bacteria that causes salmonellosis. Common foods recognized for potentially containing salmonella include Caesar salad dressing, eggnog, homemade ice cream, and raw cookie dough. Other foods that are sometimes infected with the bacteria include chicken and other meats, milk and cheese, eggs, and cocoa beans.

Salmonellosis bacteria are not spread through the air; however, they can be passed on the hands of an infected person. The bacteria can also be spread from animals to humans. Pets can carry the salmonellosis bacteria, especially reptiles. Most experts recommend not allowing small children to have reptiles, especially turtles and iguanas, as pets.

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