Salmonella is a prokaryotic, rod shaped, bacterial organism. It is nonsporeforming and Gram-negative.(1) Salmonella is responsible for almost 60 percent of reported cases of bacterial food borne illness and 40 percent of all food borne illness of any kind. Salmonella survives digestion and reproduces in the small intestine, making people sick. Salmonella has hundreds of different types, all of which cause much the same illness in humans. Eating food containing live salmonella bacteria causes salmonellosis. (2)
Anyone can get Salmonella, but it is most common in children under 5 (and in the elderly). Millions of cases occur each year in the United States, and at least half of them are in children. Salmonella is found in almost all kitchens. Thankfully, proper food handling, cooking, and cleaning will reliably kill the Salmonella bacteria. Eating raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or red meat is a common cause of infection. So is cross contamination from uncooked poultry or red meat in the kitchen. Contamination can also come from animal products or infected people involved in food preparation. Children can also get sick from drinking raw milk (unpasteurized milk) or from eating unwashed fruits or vegetables. Poultry, livestock, amphibians, and reptiles can carry Salmonella. Children can get sick from playing with or handling these animals if the bacteria get in the children's mouths. Drinking contaminated water is a major source of Salmonella worldwide, and is one of the reasons that a clean water supply is so important. (2) Samonellosis symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, chills, headache and vomiting. (1) The onset of symptoms usually occurs within 6 to 72 hours after the ingestion of the bacteria. The infectious dose is small, probably from 15 to 20 cells. (3) Most commonly, Salmonella causes gastroenteritis with cramping, diarrhea, abdominal tenderness, vomiting, and fever. The diarrhea is usually watery, but may contain...
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