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Salmonella—Infection, Information, and Prevention

Salmonella is an infection caused by a bacteria group classified in the family Enterobacteriaceae, and was first discovered by a veterinary pathologist named Daniel Elmer Salmon working in concert with a colleague by the name of Theobald Smith. There are two species of Salmonella: Salmonella bongori, and Salmonella enterica (which has six subspecies). Salmonella is common and is the cause of many foodborne illnesses.

Salmonella infection will typically bring about uncomfortable symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps that may present as early as 12 hours after the initial infection. In most patients, the illness will clear in 4 to 7 days without treatment. However, in rarer cases, Salmonella can be severe and could require a hospital stay. Salmonella, when severe, can spread throughout the body's various systems via the blood stream. In these rarer cases, Salmonella can prove to be deadly without antibiotic treatment. For this reason, any case of Salmonella should be taken seriously and especially by those who may be more susceptible to protracted or severe symptoms such as the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and infants.

How Do We Acquire Salmonella?

Unfortunately there are many pathways to Salmonella infection, many of which are strictly food based. With that in mind, it is important to note that thorough cooking as well as pasteurization kills Salmonella, so take care that the foods you eat are properly washed and prepared. Let's consider some of the most common pathways to illness.

Common Pathways to Illness

  • Eggs
  • Raw Poultry
  • Beef

Less Common But Possible

  • Unwashed Fruits
  • Unwashed Vegetables

Other Possible Pathways

Handling Pets (notably reptiles— turtles, snakes, lizards)

Review of Common Salmonella Symptoms

Some of the more commonly seen symptoms are listed below. Please note that you may experience other symptoms and that this list is not comprehensive.

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting

WARNING:
While not common in America, typhoid fever caused by Salmonella often occurs in developing countries with patient estimates exceeding 20 million per year. Typhoid fever can cause death if untreated.

Treatment

Salmonella infection often dehydrates those who endure it therefore patient treatment may involve increasing fluid levels and electrolytes. In patients requiring hospitalization, intravenous fluids may be given. Drugs that may be prescribed for Salmonella infection are discussed below.

Anti-Diarrheals

To reduce or eliminate cramping

Antibiotics

In some patients, doctors prescribe antibiotics if the bacteria may have infiltrated the bloodstream. As antibiotics could lengthen the duration of a Salmonella infection they may not be advisable in some cases, but only your doctor can make this decision. Talk to your doctor about the benefits versus risks of antibiotics.

Compounded Medication Benefits

Some patients may benefit from compounded medications for Salmonella treatment, as compounded medications are often easier on the body than pharmaceutical corporation manufactured drugs. Additionally, compounded medications can be crafted exactly to a doctor's recommendations and made without fillers or dyes. Ask your doctor about the many options and benefits of compounded medications for your medication needs in general, and for Salmonella treatment specifically.

  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA