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    Affecting 550 million people across the globe each year, salmonella poisoning is one of the top four causes of diarrhea. But it doesn’t just cause gastrointestinal issues. If not dealt with properly, salmonella can actually lead to death in certain situations. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Sickening Salmonella

How to avoid, recognize, and treat this common bacterium.

Affecting 550 million people across the globe each year, salmonella poisoning is one of the top four causes of diarrhea. But it doesn’t just cause gastrointestinal issues. If not dealt with properly, salmonella can actually lead to death in certain situations.

And while you may suspect salmonella only comes about when you consume raw eggs or chicken, you should know it comes from a variety of sources. How can you determine if you’re suffering salmonella, how is it treated, and what can you do to avoid it? Keep reading to find out.

Salmonella Sources

A bacterium that doesn’t agree with the human body, salmonella can be found in any variety of foods. While the most common are contaminated poultry, eggs, and meat, it can be found in unlikely sources. Prepackaged foods, raw fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized milk or juice, nuts, spices, and cheese have all been found to contain salmonella bacteria and infect those who consume it.

But food isn’t the only place you can pick up salmonella. Handling certain animals—particularly baby birds, reptiles like turtles and snakes, and amphibians may result in infection. Handling infected pet food and treats can also result in infection. Because salmonella can be passed along so many ways, it’s no wonder it affects approximately 1 in 10 people every year.

Symptomatic Salmonella

If you’ve ever experienced salmonella poisoning, you know the symptoms. Most common are stomach cramping and diarrhea. It may also cause nausea or vomiting and be accompanied with fever, headache, and body chills. There may also be blood in your stools. In extreme cases, more dangerous symptoms may arise.

Say Goodbye to Salmonella

While troublesome and embarrassing, salmonella usually doesn’t last long. In most cases, the symptoms start within 72 hours of infection and pass within two to seven days. Others are infected without knowing it, as they never experience symptoms. And still others will have such severe symptoms that hospitalization is required.

Though the need for medical attention due to salmonella is rare, if your symptoms persist or are extreme, seeking medical care ensures you don’t develop complications. The most common complication for salmonella is dehydration, as diarrhea removes much of the fluid from your body. When dehydrated, you’ll urinate less, have reduced tear production, and have a dry mouth and tongue. Salmonella bacteria can also enter your bloodstream, infecting tissue throughout your body. If this occurs, the end result can be devastating, including diseases that affect the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bone marrow (osteomyelitis). Following bouts of salmonella, you’re also at higher risk for painful urination, hurting joints, and eye irritation, symptoms of what’s known as reactive arthritis.

Skipping Salmonella

By now, the thought of salmonella should have you sick to your stomach. Fortunately, you don’t have to experience real stomach pains from the bacteria.

You just have to be careful.

To avoid salmonella poisoning altogether, the best thing to do is wash your hands. Every time you handle raw meat or poultry, change a diaper or go to the restroom, and handle pets or their droppings, wash your hands! For best results, use soap and warm water, washing for at least 20 seconds, and turn off the water with a towel to avoid recontamination.

It’s also a good idea to avoid eating foods that may be carrying salmonella. Of course, you don’t want to skip out on fresh fruits and vegetables, but you can easily avoid raw meats and eggs and foods that contain either. Also, be careful not to cross-contaminate foods. This can be done by using one cutting board for meats and another for fruits and vegetables, storing raw meats and poultry away from other foods, and immediately washing dishes that touch raw foods.