What are Salmonella bacteria?
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that are one of the most common food poisoning bacteria (salmonellosis) and one of the most well-known names of bacteria. Salmonella, like most other bacteria, have species that are harmless and those that are harmful to us.
S.enteritidis is the disease-causing species that causes salmonellosis. S.enteritidis is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria.
S.enteritidis species are like E.coli and can be considered the big brother of Salmonella. They are similar because they cause infection in the same ways. Especially via the faecal-oral route. Salmonella is also thought to be one of the major causes of traveller’s diarrhoea.
E.coli are tougher than Salmonella because they can survive harsher conditions. Such as higher temperatures, lower moisture and higher salt contents.
Food microbiologists say that if there is E.coli present you are likely to have Salmonella as well. But this does not mean that we shouldn’t be concerned about Salmonella. In fact, this bacteria is most infamous for contamination of eggs rather than red meats and in the gut.
Chocolate has also had cases of contaminated with S.enteritidis. In general, we expect E.coli to be present in red meats, and Salmonella in chicken. Yet, E.coli is also present in chicken as well as fruits and vegetables. So focusing on eradicating E.coli will usually address Salmonella as well.
Salmonellosis is likely one of the most common forms of food poisoning throughout the world.
S.enteritis causes diarrhoea, stomach cramps and fever. Known as salmonellosis. The classic signs of food poisoning. They can develop within 12 hours up to 3 days and can even last up to 1 week. Most patients that are hospitalised are due to severe dehydration, because of the above symptoms.
Salmonella is a major cause of human bacterial infections in the United States. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonella cause infections of around 1 million Americans every year, leading to 19,000 hospitalisations and 380 deaths. When considering bacteria such as E.coli 0157:H7 where although there are only 2 000 hospitalisations, 60 people die from this disease each year.
Transmission from Animals
You get Salmonella by eating foods that are contaminated by animal faeces. The most common foods that are contaminated with salmonella include animal products such as beef, poultry, milk, and eggs. However, any food is susceptible to contamination including fruits and vegetables.
Salmonella can be contracted directly from pets such as dogs, cats, birds, turtles, and fish. It can be spread from person to person when an infected person’s faeces contaminate food through unwashed hands.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include:
- stomach cramps
- bloody stools
- muscle pains
How to prevent Salmonellosis
Preventing salmonellosis is a simple procedure:
- Cooking your foods to an internal temperature of 75º C (167˚F) easily kills the bacteria.
- Handling your raw meats (especially chicken/eggs) separately from ready to eat foods will greatly minimise this risk.
- Keep foods properly refrigerated until ready to prepare and cook.
- Handwashing and personal hygiene are essential in preventing cross-contamination.
- Avoid eating high-risk foods, including raw or undercooked eggs.
- Undercooked ground beef or poultry, and unpasteurised milk
The treatment of symptoms relate to dehydration in most cases. This means taking in fluids and replacing electrolytes in your body. Simple antibiotic treat will resolve further complications.
- Anti-diarrheals. Medications such as loperamide (Imodium A-D) can help relieve cramping, but they may also prolong the diarrhoea associated with salmonella infection.
- Antibiotics. If your doctor suspects that salmonella bacteria have entered your bloodstream, or if you have a severe case or a compromised immune system, he or she may prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Antibiotics are not of benefit in uncomplicated cases. In fact, antibiotics may prolong the period in which you carry the bacteria and can infect others, and they can increase your risk of relapse.
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