Salmonella Infection: Here’s Everything You Should Know About It
Salmonella infection is a bacterial disease caused by the bacteria; salmonella. The salmonella infection or salmonellae affects the intestinal tract of the body. The salmonella bacteria reside in the intestine of humans and animals. The infection is primarily caused due to contact with contaminated water and food. But another major source of this infection is through pet reptiles, especially pet turtles. Foods like poultry, eggs, beef, milk, poultry all contain salmonella bacteria. Some common types of salmonella infection include food poisoning, typhoid fever, gastroenteritis, etc.
What are the symptoms of salmonella infection?
Most salmonella infections are associated with stomach flu or gastroenteritis. Hence, some common symptoms usually include abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Other signs and symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, muscle pain, and dizziness. If you experience bloody stools, then take it as a symptom of salmonella infection. While the symptoms of this infection may last from two to seven days, it may take ten days for diarrhea to get cured and about several months before the bloody stools will stop. Joint pain may also occur as a symptom and if left untreated, it can even lead to chronic arthritis.
What are the causes?
Salmonellosis is primarily caused due to eating raw or uncooked meat or poultry eggs which are contaminated by feces. So the driving cause behind the infection is the consumption of contaminated food or drinks. Some common causes of salmonella infection are:
1. Contaminated fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables may get contaminated when washed with water containing salmonella bacteria. The imported fruits and vegetables are usually the ones that are more likely to be contaminated. Contamination may also happen if a fruit vendor handles a fruit after touching infected raw meat. Lastly, fruits and vegetables may get contaminated in a personal kitchen setting as well if they come in contact with juices from poultry and raw meat.
2. Uncooked seafood, meat, and poultry: This is the most common cause of salmonella infection. The seafood might be harvested in contaminated water and will further come in contact with the consumer and cause infection. Meat and poultry are usually contaminated during the butchering process in slaughterhouses.
3. Uncooked eggs: Eggs produced by infected chicken may contain salmonella bacteria even before the shell is formed. Such raw eggs are usually found in mayonnaise and homemade sauces.
4. Poor hygiene: Since the infection is caused due to contamination, poor hygiene and sanitation may prove to be a chief cause of salmonellae. If you don’t clean the kitchen slates or do not wash hands before the preparation of food or forget to wash hands after using the washroom, then you might be triggering the spread of salmonella bacteria.
5. Pet reptiles or amphibians: Most of the reptiles generally carry the salmonella bacteria in their gut without any occasion of illness. Since pets come in contact with everything in the house, they might start to spread the infection.
Who are at risk and what are the complications?
Those with a weak immune system are at the highest risk of catching this infection. Children and older people are at a much higher risk than middle-aged adults. Salmonella infection also holds pregnant women at risk.
Some complications of the infection include:
1. Dehydration: Since diarrhea is a parallel medical condition to the infection, it is important to keep ourselves hydrated. Else, one might lose the required water content in the body and become dehydrated.
2. Bacteraemia: If the infection travels to the bloodstream of your body, it can cause bacteraemia. In this situation, tissues in your body might get infected. Such an infection can further cause meningitis (infection in the tissues around the brain and spinal cord), endocarditis (infection in the lining of the heart); and osteomyelitis (infection in the bone marrow).
How to treat salmonella infection?
Since the infection usually causes severe dehydration, it is treated by hydrating the patient with fluids and electrolytes. Antibiotics may also be recommended by the doctor. Antibiotics treat the symptoms and also prevent the bacteria from going into the bloodstream. Antibiotics also provide immunity against the returning of the infection. Antimotility drugs are also prescribed as a treatment for diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.
To prevent this disease, remember to maintain hygiene and sanitation and to avoid uncooked food.