What causes Salmonella food poisoning?

Salmonella food poisoning is caused by an infection of the gastrointestinal tract, or digestive tract, by a variety of types of Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella food poisoning is spread by eating or drinking food or beverages that have been contaminated with feces that contain Salmonella bacteria.

Common foods contaminated with Salmonella bacteria include undercooked eggs and poultry. However, any food or beverage can become contaminated with Salmonella bacteria if it is handled by an infected person with unwashed hands or if it comes in contact with contaminated food or feces.

Salmonella bacteria are often found in the feces of pets with diarrhea. They are also frequently found in the feces of reptiles, even if the animals are healthy.

What are the risk factors for Salmonella food poisoning?

Salmonella food poisoning can occur in any age group or population, but a number of factors increase the risk of developing the disease. Not all people with risk factors will get Salmonella food poisoning.

Risk factors for Salmonella food poisoning include:

  • Eating eggs or meats that are raw or undercooked

  • Eating expired foods

  • Eating leftovers that have been stored for more than two to three days

  • Having a compromised immune system due to such conditions as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer or cancer treatment, and kidney disease  

  • Not washing hands after contact with a person who has Salmonella food poisoning

  • Not washing hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, touching pet feces, handling reptiles, or touching raw foods or foods contaminated with Salmonella bacteria

Reducing your risk of Salmonella food poisoning

You can lower your risk of developing or transmitting Salmonella food poisoning by:

  • Avoiding contact with a person who has infectious Salmonella food poisoning or its symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea

  • Defrosting foods in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the counter

  • Not keeping reptiles as pets in homes with infants and young children

  • Refrigerating or freezing leftovers right away and eating them within two to three days of refrigerating. Leftovers from restaurants should be eaten within 24 hours.

  • Throwing out expired food, leftovers, or perishable food that has been sitting at room temperature for two hours or longer

  • Washing hands frequently during and after contact with a person who has Salmonella food poisoning or its symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea

  • Washing hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, touching pet feces, handling reptiles, changing diapers, or touching raw foods

  • Washing plates, utensils, and cutting boards that have been exposed to raw meats or poultry in hot, soapy water before reusing

INTRODUCTION

What is Salmonella food poisoning?

Salmonella food poisoning is the most common cause of foodborne illness. Salmonella food poisoning, also known as salmonellosis, is a bacterial infection caused by a variety of types of Salmonella bacteria.... Read more about salmonella food poisoningintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning?

Symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning generally begin within eight to 72 hours after ingesting food or beverages contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. With proper care to avoid dehydration, generally healthy adults can begin to see improvement in their symptoms within a couple of days and can recover completely within about a week.... Read more about salmonella food poisoningsymptoms

TREATMENTS

How is Salmonella food poisoning treated?

Healthy adults may recover from mild to moderate cases of Salmonella food poisoning without medical treatment. However, it is always a good idea to seek medical care if you have symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.... Read more about salmonella food poisoningtreatments

Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian MD Last Annual Review Date: Jan 8, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Food, Nutrition and Diet, Ulcerative Colitis