Salmonella

Salmonella is a type of bacteria which can be found in soil, water and raw eggs and meat. It is also present in animal feces. It is a foodborne illness, and people who eat foods contaminated with salmonella will experience symptoms such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.

In the Philippines, the disease has hit the headlines because of the number of food products discovered to be contaminated with salmonella. Recently, it has affected a local brand of peanut butter products, and the government has ordered the immediate removal of the contaminated products from stores.

In the United States, most of the people affected with salmonella are children and infants. The most common type of salmonella that cause infections in humans is called nontyphoidal salmonella. Its usual carriers are animals like cows, chickens and reptiles such as iguanas, lizards and turtles. The other type of salmonella, typhoidal salmonella, is much rare, with humans as the only carriers. The disease is transmitted through direct contact with the feces of an infected person. Typhoidal salmonella can cause symptoms such as headache, high fever, skin rash, malaise, constipation, lethargy and even delirium.

The first signs of salmonella infection usually manifest within three days of contamination. A stool sample is usually needed from the patient for checking to make sure that he is infected with salmonella, since many other diseases exhibit the same symptoms. The difference can be seen during the second week of infection. During this period, a person infected with salmonella will have an enlarged liver and spleen, as well as a noticeable spotted skin rash. These may lead to serious complications like pneumonia and meningitis, especially for those people who have weak immune systems, those who are on cancer medication and those who are taking medication for stomach acid suppression.

Salmonella can be prevented by avoiding raw meat eggs and poultry. These should be cooked well before serving. Also, it would help immensely to practice proper hygiene; handwashing should be made a habit, especially after using the bathroom. Since the disease can be found among reptiles, avoid having reptilian pets inside the house.

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