HomeGastro CareHow Simple Hygiene Can Help Prevent Salmonellosis

How Simple Hygiene Can Help Prevent Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is a foodborne bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. There are different types of salmonella bacteria that cause salmonellosis. The other types of salmonella bacteria, including Salmonella Typhi and Paratyphi, cause typhoid fever or paratyphoid fever.Sa

Salmonella bacteria dwell in the intestines of human beings, birds, and animals and get excreted with the feces.

 What are the symptoms of salmonellosis?

 In some people, salmonellosis does not show any signs or symptoms, whereas some might experience diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 8-hours to 72-hours of infection.

Although most people heal within a couple of days with no specific medical intervention, immediate medical assistance is crucial in severe dehydration . Moreover, if the infection spreads to the other parts of the body, it could be life-threatening.

 Following are the common symptoms of salmonellosis :

The signs and symptoms of salmonellosis stay for around 2-days to a week. In some cases, your diarrhea might last for a week or even 10-days.

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What are the causes of salmonellosis?

Consuming contaminated food and water is one of the most common reasons for this infection in humans. Moreover, if you are a frequent traveler and often eat your meals outside, you are at a higher risk of getting this infection. The reason is the lack of hygiene and poor sanitation practices in various parts of the world.

The following are the possible cause of salmonella infection:

  1. Food you eat

As it is a foodborne condition, the foods that commonly lead to food poisoning include the following –

  • Raw and undercooked meat, seafood, and poultry – During meat and poultry processing,  excreta (feces) may stick to the raw meat. Similarly, seafood can get contaminated by disease-causing microorganisms if collected from a polluted water body.
  • Uncooked eggs – Although the outer covering (shell) of eggs gives sufficient protection from external contamination, infected birds can produce eggs with salmonella  before shell formation.
  • Vegetables and fruits – Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially the ready-to-cook, imported, or packaged produce, might contain salmonella due to contamination during processing. Using the same chopping board for cutting meat and vegetables can lead to contamination of the raw produce, especially salads.
  1. Improper hand hygiene

If you do not practice proper hand hygiene, for example – not washing hands after going to the washroom, changing sanitary napkins or diapers, or playing with or touching your pets, you can end up contaminating your food.

What are the risk factors associated with salmonellosis?

Following are the risk factors for  this infection –

  • Children, especially those below five years, are at an increased risk of contracting salmonella infection.
  • Traveling to places with poor sanitation increases the risk of getting salmonella infection.
  • The use of antacid lowers your stomach acidity  allowing the Salmonella bacteria to thrive in your system.
  • Frequent use of antibiotics may impair the ability of your body to fight off the infection.
  • If you are suffering from an autoimmune disorder, such as AIDS and sickle cell disease, you are at a higher risk.

What are the possible complications of salmonellosis?

Food poisoning due to salmonella infection is not a life-threatening condition. However, in people with any comorbidity or suppressed immunity, pregnant women, elderly, infants, and young kids, and transplant patients, among others, any health complications can be fatal. The  complications include:

1. Severe dehydration

 If you have diarrhea and your fluid intake is low, you can get dehydrated. It can further deteriorate your condition, followed by dry mouth, decreased urine output, and sunken eyes.

 2. Bacteremia

 If salmonella infection gets into your bloodstream, it can lead to severe tissue damage throughout your body. It includes the following –

  • Meningitis (inflammation of the tissues around your spinal cord and brain)
  • Osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone due to infection)
  • Endocarditis (an infection in the inner lining of your heart)

 3.        Reactive arthritis

 If you have had salmonellosis, you are more likely to be at a higher risk  of acquiring reactive arthritis or Reiter’s syndrome. The signs and symptoms of reactive arthritis include –

  • Irritation of the eye
  • Pain the joints
  • Painful urination

How can simple hygiene help prevent salmonellosis?

 You can minimize the risks of contracting salmonella infection by following some simple hygiene tips. It includes –

 Keep your hands clean

  • Your hands can play the role of a germ-carrier to your mouth or the food you are handling .
  • It is essential to wash your hand with soap and water after using the toilet, changing period products, changing a diaper, cleaning pet feces, playing with pets, cleaning the washroom, and handling raw foods.

Keep your food preparation slab and products clean.

  • Make sure to keep uncooked meat and fruits and vegetables separate while shopping, storing, and processing.
  • Wash everything, starting from your hands, kitchen countertops, chopping boards, utensils, and knives, and choppers after processing raw meat. It will help you prevent cross-contamination.
  • Do not forget to wash fresh produce like fruits and vegetables properly before eating or cooking.
  • Refrain from using unpasteurized dairy products.

Prepare and store your food at the right temperatures.

  • Avoid eating undercooked or raw eggs. When preparing recipes that do not need cooking like mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, flan, or ice cream, make sure to use pasteurized eggs.
  • Cooking your food at appropriate heat kills bacteria and many other microbes. So, whenever cooking meat, make sure that there is no pink (raw) portion in the middle of it.

Be careful when swimming.

Make sure not to swallow pool or pond water while swimming.

How is salmonellosis diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose salmonella infection by taking a stool test. In case he or she suspects that the bacteria is already there in your bloodstream, he or she can also take a blood examination for detecting the bacteria.

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 How is salmonellosis treated?

 Following are the treatment options for salmonellosis –

  • Fluid replacement – Salmonella bacteria infections that cause severe diarrhea or vomiting can lead to dehydration. Therefore, your doctor is more likely to focus on restoring lost fluids and electrolytes in the body. In severe cases, hospitalization might be an option
  • Anti-diarrheal medication – Depending on your health condition, your doctor can also prescribe anti-diarrheal drugs to help you relieve cramping.
  • Antibiotics – If you are suffering from bacteremia (salmonella in your bloodstream), your doctor may recommend taking antibiotics.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How long can salmonellosis  last?

The signs and symptoms of salmonella infection last for 2-days to 7-days. However, diarrhea can extend up to 10-days. In some  cases, bowel movements take time to get back to normal .

2. What is the best way to treat salmonella?

Salmonellosis usually does not require any specific treatment. Drinking adequate amounts of water and maintaining hand hygiene is enough to recover from salmonella infection. However, if your symptoms are severe, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics and anti-diarrhea drugs.

3. How is salmonella prevented?

Refrain from eating raw and uncooked food, wash your hands before and after processing the food, prepare and store your food at the right temperatures. These preventive measures are enough to stop salmonella from spreading.

4. Is salmonellosis the same as food poisoning?

Salmonella infection is a foodborne disease. However, not every case of food poisoning is due to this type of bacteria.

5. How harmful is salmonella?

Most cases of this infection get cured on its own without any medical intervention. However, severe cases of diarrhea may require medical attention.

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