Salmonella infection


Salmonellosis, commonly known as a salmonella infection, is a prevalent bacterial illness affecting the gastrointestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria typically reside in the intestines of both animals and humans, and they are often excreted through feces. Human transmission most commonly occurs via contaminated water or food sources.

Although some individuals may not exhibit any symptoms, most people experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 8 to 72 hours of exposure. The majority of healthy individuals recover within a few days to a week without needing specific medical treatment.

However, severe dehydration resulting from diarrhea can occur in certain cases, requiring immediate medical attention. Additionally, life-threatening complications may arise if the infection spreads beyond the intestinal tract. The risk of contracting a Salmonella infection is elevated when traveling to regions lacking access to clean drinking water and proper sewage disposal systems.


Salmonella infection commonly stems from consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, or unpasteurized milk. The incubation period, ranging from exposure to the onset of illness, can vary from 6 hours to 6 days. Often, individuals with salmonella infection may confuse their symptoms with those of stomach flu.

Potential indicators of salmonella infection encompass:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Presence of blood in the stool

Symptoms of salmonella infection typically persist for several days to a week. While diarrhea can endure for up to 10 days, it may take several months for bowel habits to normalize.

Certain strains of salmonella bacteria can cause typhoid fever, a potentially fatal illness more prevalent in developing nations.

The majority of individuals with salmonella infection do not require medical intervention as it typically resolves on its own within a few days. However, if the affected individual is an infant, young child, elderly adult, or someone with a compromised immune system, it is advisable to contact a doctor if the illness:

  • Is accompanied by a high fever or bloody stools.
  • Seems to be contributing to dehydration, as seen by symptoms like darker urine, less frequent urination, and dry lips and tongue.
  • Does not go away after a few days.


Salmonella bacteria reside in the intestines of humans, animals, and birds. The primary mode of salmonella transmission to humans is through the consumption of food or water contaminated with fecal matter.

Contaminated food and water

Frequently contaminated food items include:

  • Eggs that have not been fully cooked: Despite the protective shell, some infected chickens can produce eggs containing salmonella before shell formation. Raw eggs are commonly used in homemade versions of foods like mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce.
  • Uncooked meats, poultry, and seafood: During the butchering process, feces can come into contact with raw meat and poultry. Seafood may also be contaminated if harvested from contaminated water sources.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Certain fresh produce, especially imported varieties, may be irrigated or washed with water contaminated by salmonella during cultivation or processing. Kitchen contamination can also occur when juices from raw meats and poultry come into contact with uncooked foods like salads.
  • Dairy products that have not been pasteurized: Pasteurization, a heating process, is crucial for eliminating harmful bacteria, including salmonella. Unpasteurized milk and milk products (raw milk) may harbor salmonella bacteria.

Food that hasn’t been handled correctly

Numerous foods can become contaminated when handled by individuals who fail to thoroughly wash their hands after using the restroom, changing a diaper, or handling contaminated food.

Contaminated surfaces

Infection may also arise if individuals touch contaminated surfaces and subsequently introduce their fingers into their mouths.

Infected pets and other animals

Animals and pets, particularly birds and reptiles, can harbor salmonella bacteria on their feathers, fur, skin, or in their feces. Additionally, certain pet foods may be contaminated with salmonella, posing a risk of infection to animals.

Risk factors

Factors that might elevate your susceptibility to salmonella infection comprise:

  • Behaviors that could put you in direct touch with salmonella germs.
  • Medical conditions that could make you more susceptible to infections in general.

Increased exposure

  • Traveling abroad. In impoverished nations with inadequate sanitation, cases of salmonella infection, especially those that result in typhoid fever, are more prevalent.
  • Caring for, touching, or owning animals. Salmonella bacteria can be found in certain animals, especially in birds and reptiles. Litter bins, cages, tanks, and animal pens can all harbor salmonella.

Digestive system issues, such as stomach or bowel disorders

The body has numerous defenses to fend off salmonella infections. For instance, many strains of salmonella bacteria can be destroyed by high stomach acid. However, certain illnesses or drugs can override these protective mechanisms.
As examples, consider:

  • Current antibiotic usage. As a result, your intestines may have fewer good bacteria, which could hinder your ability to fend off a salmonella infection.
  • Antacids. Reducing the acidity of the stomach promotes the survival of more salmonella germs.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease. Because this condition results in injury to the lining of your intestines, salmonella germs can spread more easily.

Issues with the immune system

Certain medical conditions or medications can heighten the likelihood of contracting salmonella by compromising your immune system, impeding your body’s ability to combat infections and diseases. Examples include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Medications to avoid organ rejection used following organ transplants
  • Human Immunodeficiency Viruses (HIV)
  • Malaria
  • Sickle cell disease