A Salmonella infection is considered a common disease that affects the intestinal tract, caused by the Salmonella bacteria. We’ve put together this short guide of key information, with links for further guidance.
Salmonella is a bacteria that causes a range of illnesses, including diarrhoea and gastroenteritis. There are over 2,500 subtypes of the bacteria that can be found in both humans and animals, and some types have been seen to cause typhoid fever. However, fewer than 100 strains of Salmonella are actually likely to infect people.
A Salmonella infection is more typically known as food poisoning however, it’s important to note that there are other ways to get food poisoning aside from Salmonella. The consumption of raw meat and eggs, unpasteurised milk, or contaminated fruits and vegetables is the most common way to contract an infection.
The majority of Salmonella infections are not life-threatening and tend to get better within seven days. It’s quite normal for people to treat themselves at home, upon contracting the most common symptoms. These (listed in no specific order) are:
Some Salmonella strains can also cause infection in the urine, blood, joints, bones, and the nervous system. This in turn can cause more complications or a more severe illness to occur.
Salmonella lives in the intestines of humans and animals and most infections are contracted by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with faeces. Contraction of the illness can typically occur from:
There is currently no vaccine to prevent a Salmonella infection however, basic good hygiene, such as washing your hands with soap and running water, can dramatically reduce the chances of an infection.
Food production and distribution factories should also be extra vigilant in the cleanliness of surfaces and equipment in the workplace. Similarly, wearing the appropriate workwear products, such as caps and masks, along with regular hand washing is essential.
Because most people recover from a Salmonella infection within seven days, treatment is usually able to be done by the patient at home. Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and eating only plain foods such as pasta and bread, are two common ways to alleviate symptoms. Resting at home and taking paracetamol if in discomfort can also help.
Scientists have also posed concern that overuse of antibiotics for Salmonella infections can lead to a resistance and increase the chances of an infection coming back. This means antibiotic treatment tends to be used only for people in a high-risk category.
There are several groups of people who are considered more vulnerable to a Salmonella infection. These are:
While a Salmonella infection isn’t typically life-threatening, in certain groups of people the complications that can arise from the illness do make it dangerous. This includes:
The incubation period for a Salmonella infection tends to begin 12-72 hours after being in contact with the Salmonella bacteria.
Those who have recovered from an infection can still be contagious for days and weeks after symptoms have disappeared. It’s important to be vigilant with good hygiene around these individuals during this period.
There are many useful resources available on both the Salmonella bacteria and the infection it causes. The below websites provide advice and information on avoiding the bacteria, spotting symptoms, and how to treat an infection.
National Health Service (advice on food poisoning)
Salmonella infections are relatively common, can be treated at home, and usually go away after a short period of discomfort. However, it’s so easy to avoid contamination and the possible infection by adhering to common-sense food hygiene practises, good basic hand hygiene, and workplace cleanliness.
Join us in the fight against Salmonella infections. Download our infographic to help us raise awareness and prevent the spread of this bacteria.
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