Salmonellosis, it is a disease caused by the bacteria known as Salmonella. It is usually characterized by acute onset of fever, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and sometimes vomiting. The onset of the disease symptoms occurs between 6–72 hours, usually 12–36 hours after ingestion of the bacteria, and illness lasts for about 2–7 days.
Symptoms of salmonellosis are relatively mild and patients will make a recovery without specific treatment in most cases. However, in some cases, particularly in children and elderly patients, the associated dehydration can become severe and life-threatening.
HOW IT IS TRANSMITTED?
Salmonella bacteria are widely distributed in domestic and wild animals. They are prevalent in food animals such as poultry, pigs, cattle and in pets, including cats, dogs, birds, and reptiles such as turtles. Salmonella can pass through the entire food chain from animal feed, primary production, and all the way to households or food-service establishments and institutions.
Salmonellosis in humans is generally contracted through the consumption of contaminated food of animal origin mainly eggs, meat, poultry and milk, although other foods including green vegetables contaminated by manure, have been implicated in its transmission. Person-to-person transmission can also occur through the faecal-oral route. Human cases also occur where individuals have contact with infected animals, including pets. These infected animals often do not show signs of the disease.
CAN IT BE TREATED?
Yes, it can be treated. Treatment in severe cases is electrolyte replacement (to provide electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium and chloride ions, lost through vomiting and diarrhoea) and rehydration. However, health risk groups such as infants, the elderly and immune-compromised patients may need to receive antimicrobial therapy.
Antimicrobials are also administered if the infection spreads from the intestine to other body parts. Because of the global increase of antimicrobial resistance, treatment guidelines should be reviewed on a regular basis taking into account the resistance pattern of the bacteria based on the local surveillance system.
ARE THERE PREVENTIVE MEASURES?
One of the best preventive measures is to ensure that food is properly cooked and still hot when served. Avoid raw milk and products made from raw milk. Drink only pasteurized or boiled milk. Avoid ice unless it is made from safe water. When the safety of drinking water is questionable, boil it or if this is not possible, disinfect it with a reliable, slow-release disinfectant agent.
Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently using soap, in particular after contact with pets or farm animals or after having been to the toilet. Wash fruits and vegetables carefully, particularly if they are to be eaten raw. If possible, vegetables and fruits should be peeled. Also, both professional and domestic food handlers should be vigilant while preparing food and should observe hygienic rules of food preparation. Professional food handlers who suffer from fever, diarrhoea, vomiting or visible infected skin lesions should report to their employer immediately for proper treatment.