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What is Salmonella?

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Image is from USDA Blog

Every year one million people fall victim to the debilitating effects of salmonella. An invasive food-borne illness this rod-shaped bacterium causes an estimated 380 casualties annually. Identifying the source of salmonella plays a key role in stopping a potentially dangerous epidemic from spreading to your loved ones or yourself. Know your enemy, know your defense. Here are a few important ways you can help prevent salmonella from affecting your day-to-day:

Understand the Threat:

Salmonellosis, the gastrointestinal infection resulting from exposure to salmonella is consistently reappearing each year. With over 2,300 strains of bacteria under the proverbial umbrella of salmonella, frequent reports of contamination are commonplace. Enteritidis and Typhimurium are two of the more popular serotypes (strains) that are known to attack residents of the United States. The intestinal tracts of humans and various types of animals are the starting place for salmonella-producing bacteria growth.

One of the more recent outbreaks, occurring in 2016, was linked to the handling of live poultry. Humans in contact with chicks, chickens, ducks and ducklings at multiple hatcheries pointed to the spread of salmonella to close to 900 people. Other outbreaks of the illness came from contaminated cucumbers, various types of butters, peanuts, ground turkey, tuna and eggs in previous years. By adhering to a few simple prevention procedures such outbreaks could have been avoided.

Prevent to Circumvent:

Young children, the elderly, those pregnant or people who have weak immune systems are the most vulnerable to salmonellosis. In these instances the effects of the illness could be life-threatening. Cut off the circulation of salmonella by avoiding the hazards and applying tried-and-true preventative tactics.

Here is a list of the various ways invasive salmonella can find its way into your world:

  1. Improper food handling and storage procedures are notorious culprits in the spread of salmonella.
  2. Unwashed hands can transmit human or animal feces that are tainted with salmonella to food or other hands.
  3. Reptiles can carry salmonella on their skin. Holding a reptile then preparing food or touching others is a recipe for salmonella contamination. Young birds often have salmonella in their intestinal tract. Handling live poultry then coming in contact with others also encourages harmful bacteria transfer.
  4. Raw foods, such as meat or eggs and unpasteurized dairy products are spawning grounds for bacteria production. Unwashed produce is also a known salmonella carrier.

Be aware of the many possibilities for contamination. If you know what to watch for, your awareness could stop painful infections. Washing your hands thoroughly, and employing preventative food handling procedures stops salmonella from spreading. If you have or someone you know has been infected, avoiding contact with others is the best way to ensure that the illness doesn’t continue down its destructive path. Recognize the symptoms to know the next step to take towards future prevention.

Recognize the Symptoms

If you are suffering from one or more of the symptoms below, make a mental note of what you (or a family member) did in the previous hours or days before the illness. It may help doctors diagnose your malady more efficiently. Salmonellosis usually appears 12 to 72 hours after contamination has occurred. Typically the infection runs its course in 4 to 7 days. Depending on the severity, or other risk factors involved, a physician visit may be necessary.

Below are some symptoms that are synonymous with salmonellosis:

  • abdominal cramping
  • headache
  • fever
  • acute watery diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

The importance of washing hands and food cannot be stressed enough. Sometimes the obvious solution is the best one. Wash away harmful bacteria and acquire invaluable peace of mind.

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