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Salmonella Infection (Salmonellosis)

Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) is an illness that affects your intestines. It is caused by Salmonella bacteria. You can be infected from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and unpasteurized milk are more likely to carry this bacteria than other foods. But vegetables may also be contaminated. Salmonella most often passes through food that hasn’t been cooked well enough. Or food that contacts raw meat or eggs. You can also be infected by contact with the stool (feces) of infected animals. Or by food that an infected food handler contaminates.

Closeup of gloved hands washing dishes.
To prevent transmission of Salmonella, wash all utensils, dishes, and cutting boards with soap and hot water, especially after preparing raw meats or eggs.

Common symptoms of Salmonella infection

Symptoms often start 12 to 72 hours after you are infected. Symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Stomach cramps

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Upset stomach (nausea)

Diagnosing Salmonella infection

A healthcare provider takes a sample of your stool and checks for Salmonella. More than 1 stool sample may be needed.

Treating Salmonella infection

Most otherwise healthy people get better in 5 to 7 days. You will often not need medicines that treat bacterial infections (antibiotics). But if you have other health problems, your symptoms are severe, or the infection is spreading to other parts of your body, you will need antibiotics. An important part of the treatment is fluids. Drink plenty of fluids while you are sick and recovering. This helps prevent fluid loss (dehydration). Don't take antidiarrheal medicine unless your healthcare provider tells you to. This medicine can prevent your body from getting rid of the bacteria. It can also make the illness last longer.

When to call the healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider if you have any of these:

  • New symptoms or symptoms don't get better after 2 days

  • Blood in your stool

  • Severe vomiting

  • Severe belly pain

  • Fever

  • Signs of dehydration

    • Dry, sticky mouth

    • Less urine output

    • Very dark urine

    • Confusion


Preventing Salmonella infection

Follow these steps to reduce your chances of getting or passing on Salmonella infection:

  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water. Or use an alcohol-based hand cleanser. Do this often. Always wash before making meals. Wash after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets or other animals. Teach your child to do the same. Scrub for 15 to 30 seconds. While you wash, sing the ABC song or the Happy Birthday song to reach the 30-second goal.

  • Use a food thermometer when cooking. Cook poultry to at least 165°F (74°C). Cook pork and ground meats to at least 160°F (71°C). Cook beef or lamb to at least 145°F (63°C). Cook eggs until the yolks are firm and not still runny.

  • Wash or peel fresh fruits and vegetables before eating.

  • Wash cutting boards and utensils with hot water and soap after each use. After preparing raw meat or eggs, clean boards and counters with hot water and soap.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 7/1/2019
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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