Salmonellosis is an illness caused by Salmonella bacteria. People typically get salmonellosis from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Salmonellosis can also be transmitted from animals to humans by touching infected animals, their feces, or their environment. Children under 5 years old are the most likely to get a Salmonella infection. However, infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections.
A health care provider diagnoses salmonellosis through a laboratory test for Salmonella bacteria in a person's stool, body tissue, or fluids. Most people recover from salmonellosis within 4 to 7 days without antibiotics. People who are sick should drink extra fluids as long as the diarrhea lasts. A health care provider may recommend antibiotic treatment.
Symptoms of salmonellosis usually start within 6 hours to 6 days after infection. Symptoms can last for 4 to 7 days. Common salmonellosis symptoms include:
Less common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, or headache. Seek medical care if you have:
- Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
- Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
- Bloody stools
- Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down
- Signs of dehydration
You can get a Salmonella infection from a variety of foods. Salmonella bacteria can be found in many foods, including sprouts and other vegetables, eggs, chicken, pork, fruits, and processed foods. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. Remember to follow the Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill guidelines for safe food handling and storage.
Salmonella can spread from animals to people and from people to people. Always wash your hands after contact with animals, after using the bathroom, or helping someone with diarrhea. If you have salmonellosis, you should not prepare food or drink until you no longer have diarrhea.
Salmonella illness is more common in the summer. Warmer weather and unrefrigerated foods create ideal conditions for bacteria to grow. Be sure to refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours.
Play safe around animals. Pets and other healthy animals, including those at petting zoos, farms, and fairs can carry Salmonella bacteria. The following tips will help you stay safe when it comes to our feathery and furry friends:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap after touching pets and other animals.
- Do not kiss cats, dogs, chickens, turtles, or other pets and animals.
- Do not put your hands in your mouth after petting or playing with animals.
- Never eat or drink around high-risk animals (turtles, frogs, chickens, ducks) or in areas where they live and roam.
- Clean your pet's bed, cage, and its contents (such as food and water bowls) outdoors. Use a bathtub and avoid using the kitchen sick, if possible.
- Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly. By keeping your pet healthy, you also keep yourself and your family healthy.