Healthcare Paper on Disease Fact Sheet: Salmonellosis

Disease Fact Sheet: Salmonellosis

What is salmonellosis? How is it defined and diagnosed?

Salmonellosis is a diarrheal bacterial infection caused by various serotypes of Salmonella enteric commonly found in the gut of humans and other animals. The disease is caused by ingestion of contaminated water and food or coming into contact with infected chicks, pets and ducks (Nordqvist, 2017). While doctors can carry out salmonellosis diagnosis by going through the patient’s medical history, a culturing of clinical is always recommended. This involves culturing of either the patient’s blood urine or stool (CDC, 2017). However, in severe cases of severe infection some bacteria may also be detected in cultured tissues. A positive diagnosis is indicated by the presence of rod-shaped bacilli, which are gram-negative bacteria (Nordqvist, 2017).

Why is salmonellosis a problem?

While most patients suffering from salmonellosis recover within a week of infection without treatment, severe cases of infection marked by dehydration can be fatal. The illness is manifested through diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps. Patients may also have bloody stools and muscle pains. It is also manifested through chills, typhoid fever and headache. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that are up to one million cases of salmonellosis reported in the United States annually. Out of this, 380 mortalities are recorded and another 19,000 people are hospitalized due to the illness (CDC, 2017). Moreover, the condition may spread beyond the intestinal tract and become life-threatening. Poisoning by Salmonella is common in areas battling the problem of poor sanitation, which many overseas travelers may visit for various reasons (Nordqvist, 2017).


What are the causes and major risk factors associated with salmonellosis?

While Salmonella bacteria, which cause salmonellosis primarily, inhabit intestinal tracts of humans, birds and other animals, they can easily contaminate food and water when they come into contact with them. Therefore, raw meat and seafood are the primary roots of contamination. Meat easily gets contaminated during slaughtering of the poultry, pig and other animals (Nordqvist, 2017). According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), up to 30 Americans die annually as a result of consumption of contaminated chicken eggs. This is of 142,000 cases of salmonellosis reported every year (FDA, 2013). While some of the cases are as a result of unintended exposure, some people consume raw eggs in various dishes and in the processes run the risk of suffering from Salmonella infection.

Salmonellosis is also caused by poor hygienic practices especially in the kitchen area. Consumption of contaminated fruits and vegetables also leads to infection if proper hygiene is not observed. Research has also shown that there is a strong correlation between salmonellosis incidences and owning of pet reptiles and amphibians such as iguana, turtles and frogs especially among young children (CDC, 2003).

Which groups are at a greater risk of salmonellosis?

Ordinarily, patients suffering from non-life threatening cases of salmonellosis fully recover within a relatively short period of time. However, individuals with compromised immune system are highly vulnerable to suffering severe cases of Salmonella infection. These individuals include HIV/AIDs and cancer patients. Moreover, cancer patients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy or radiology, which weaken their immune systems, may suffer from severe causes of salmonellosis. Young children and the elderly are also susceptible to suffering elevated symptoms of salmonellosis. Pregnant women are also at a high risk of passing the bacteria to their growing fetus (Nordqvist, 2017).

In case the Salmonella is passed on to the fetus before or during birth, the newly born by suffer severe case of diarrhea or even meningitis. For pregnant women, the resulting severe dehydration may lead to complications during pregnancy while the resulting bacteremia may lead to premature birth. Additionally, the hot summer weather is usually marked by significantly high rates of Salmonella infections primarily due to the fact the conditions are suitable for the bacteria to thrive in (Nordqvist, 2017).

What is the incidence of salmonellosis?

In the United States alone, salmonellosis affects up to one million every year with 380 people succumbing to the disease (CDC, 2017). This translates to 1 per every 2,600 infections per year.

How is salmonellosis treated?

Salmonellosis is primarily treated by managing the dehydration complication resulting from diarrhea. Patients are encouraged plenty of water or rehydrates recommended by health practitioners to replenish the electrolytes lost due to diarrhea. Every episode of diarrhea should be followed by a round of rehydration. During this period, it is advisable to avoid taking liquids with low electrolyte levels especially sugary drinks. Sticking to a normal diet devoid of coffee, spicy, sugary and fatty components is also advisable. Until full recovery, patients are advised to avoid alcoholic drinks in order to facilitate the process of replenishing the lost electrolytes. However, in case the infection extends beyond the intestinal tract and is life-threatening the use of antibiotics is always recommended (Nordqvist, 2017).

How can salmonellosis be prevented?

The key to preventing salmonellosis is observation of proper hygiene standards both at home and in industries. Properly cook all animal products including meat, eggs and milk. Proper washing of hands before handling any food, whether raw or cooked is also effective in preventing Salmonella contamination. Keep ready-to-eat, cooked and uncooked foods apart during storage to avoid cross-contamination. Additionally, patients suffering from salmonellosis should avoid any contact with food or water to be consumed or used by others until they are fully recovered. For pet and farm animal owners, it is advisable to always wash your hand properly with soap after making any contact with the animals or their feces (CDC, 2017; Nordqvist, 2017).



CDC. (2017). “Salmonella.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from:

CDC. (2003). “Reptile-Associated Salmonellosis—Selected States, 1998–2002”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from:

FDA. (2013). Egg Safety: What You Need to Know. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from:

Nordqvist, C. (2017, Sept). “Salmonella: Symptoms, causes, and treatment.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from: