Salmonella infection is a relatively common bacterial infection that typically affects the intestinal tract. Some people with salmonella infection have no symptoms while others may have diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and blood in the stool. If a person has symptoms from a salmonella infection, they typically start between 8 and 72 hours and last between 4 and 7 days. A salmonella infection is usually not life threatening, but it can be dangerous for individuals with weakened immune systems, including children, the elderly, and pregnant women. Some people with a salmonella infection can get severe diarrhea that may need urgent medical treatment. In some cases, the salmonella infection may spread beyond the intestinal tract and into the blood stream (bacteremia), which can cause life-threatening issues.
A salmonella infection is typically caused by eating food that is contaminated by fecal matter. Foods that are often contaminated include raw meat, raw poultry, raw seafood, and raw eggs, as well as contaminated fruits and vegetables. It is important for people to wash their hands before preparing food, as they may contaminate the food if they have salmonella on their hands. Risk factors include international travel and owning a bird or reptile. A salmonella infection is usually suspected based on your symptoms. Your doctor may use stool or blood testing to confirm the diagnosis. Treatments for salmonella infection include medications that stop the diarrhea (anti-diarrheal medication) and medications to treat the bacterial infection (antibiotics), but most cases get better on their own. If a person has severe diarrhea, they may need to be rehydrated by replacing fluids and electrolytes with a needle in the arm (IV). If you have been diagnosed with salmonella, talk with your doctor to discuss your treatment options.