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What is Salmonella?

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Salmonella and How to Protect Yourself

By: Pawel Reszka

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is the bacterium that causes the infection known as salmonellosis. Salmonella and salmonellosis owe their names to the discoverer of the bacteria Daniel Salmon. The microorganism was first found in pigs. Salmonella is actually caused by a bacterium that leads into diarrheal illness in human. The organisms pass from people or animals.

Diagnosis of salmonella

If you visit a health professional for diagnosis of the machine, there will be a physical exam completed. The patient with Salmonella may complain of abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or chills. The physician will order diagnostic tests including a stool culture.

What are the symptoms?

A salmonella bacterium produces symptoms in the host such as bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and nausea. Rose spots in the vision, headache and fatigue are quiet common particularly amongst the aged and infants. Symptoms often begin from 6 to 72 hours following ingestion. If the progression is bacterial infections, (Reiters Syndrome) becomes more likely. The symptoms typically last for four to seven days. While in the early stages, the victim of Salmonella may be thoroughly miserable battling, in most instances the infection will go away without any further treatment.

What is the frequency?

Salmonella is probably the most common food borne illness, with one out of every five people in the United States suffering a case of food poisoning each year, usually as a result of improper food preparation and food storage techniques. Poor food handling practices in restaurant kitchens cause the contamination of food.

What are contributing factors?

Since salmonella bacteria live in human and animal digestive tracts it is typically transmitted when food contaminated with animal feces is ingested. The foods won't look or smell off. They are usually foods of animal origin but vegetables and other foods can become contaminated as well. Cross contamination and careless food handling habits cause a significant number of salmonella infection each year. The feces of some pets cause infection. Reptiles are more commonly found to have salmonella bacteria on the carapace. Children should be taught to always wash their hands following working with pets or pet feces.

What treatment methods are available?

Preventative measures are the best way to deal with salmonella bacteria. Proper hand washing by food handlers including use of soap after using the bathroom will prevent the spread of the infection. Thorough cooking will kill the bacteria as well. Separate foods with meats used in one set and all others in the second set. Washing the dishes in hot sudsy water helps to insure that the dishes are free of salmonella bacterium. Washing hands frequently while preparing the meal is another preventative tactic. Using foods such as hollandaise sauce that has raw egg in it should be one of the foods that is set aside for the duration.

Most people recover without the necessity of any type of treatment. The person may have such severe diarrhea however that hospitalization is necessary in order to prevent dehydration. If the infection spreads into the blood stream from the intestines, rapid treatment with antibiotics is crucial as a patient left untreated will die. Symptomatic relief in the form of fever reduction and nausea prevention can occur. Infants and elderly as well as those with immune systems that are impaired are typically hit harder by the illness.

Any foods of animal origin should be cooked before ingestion. Foods which contain raw eggs, dairy products or undercooked meats should be avoided. Produce prepared for meals should be thoroughly washed.

The main thrust of the treatment regimen is to replace electrolytes and fluids that disappear during the course of illness due to diarrhea.

Some other treatment regimens include changing the diet to include foods that will reduce the symptoms of diarrhea. Avoid diuretics during the time frame and infants should follow a BRAT diet as it has been helpful for most patients. BRAT is an acronym for rice, bananas, apples and tea.

While the disease runs its course, the patient can expect to stay in bed rest with consumption of plenty of fluids. Light foods should be taken when the patient feels like resuming eating once again. The change in treatment to hospitalization is only when the transition to bacteria in the blood stream occurs with attendant dangers.

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