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Salmonella Signs and Symptoms

Salmonella Signs and Symptoms

It seems that as soon as one Salmonella outbreak is lassoed in, another one pops up. And it seems like the outbreaks have the same taste in food that I do, and that I know many of you have as well. (Read: doesn’t have legs, grown in dirt.) I have kept so up to date on the recalls of spinach, then tomatoes, next peanuts, pistachios, and now peanut butter–sigh–I can even rattle off the bacteria serotypes. But the other day I realized that I wouldn’t know if I had salmonellosis if it bit me on the nose!

This was cured with a quick trip to the salmonellosis web page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which gave me more salmonella factoids than I really know what to do with. So, I share:

Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called salmonella.

Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 hours to 72 hours after infection.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, for some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.

In these patients, the salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

People with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal.

A small number of people with salmonella develop pain in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. This is called Reiter’s syndrome. It can last for months or years.

Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5-7 days and often do not require treatment other than oral fluids. People with severe diarrhea may require rehydration with intravenous fluids

Salmonella germs have been around for more than 100 years. They were discovered by an American scientist named Salmon, for whom they are named.


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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


+ add your own
8:43AM PDT on Oct 4, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

12:44AM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

Thanks Melissa.

6:47AM PDT on May 31, 2011


4:58PM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

Informative, thanks for the list!

12:01PM PDT on Mar 14, 2011

Thanks for the info!

9:09PM PDT on Mar 13, 2011


7:27PM PDT on Mar 13, 2011

That was very informative!

11:51AM PST on Mar 11, 2011

Thanks for the info! I hope I never get salmonella poisoning...

3:41AM PST on Mar 11, 2011

great info thanks :)

7:47PM PST on Mar 10, 2011

Thank you so much for this very helpful information about salmonella. There seem to be more unaware than aware about this unseen enemy in our foods and most ly I think take it for granted that they can fight it easily. Until one gets it really bad, cleanliness and more awareness in food preparation get better attention. Thanks again.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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