Understanding Salmonella Poisoning to help Safeguard your Family

November 12, 2012

Understanding Salmonella Poisoning to help Safeguard your Family

In the United States around 600 people die of salmonella poisoning every year. Those most likely to die are young children, the elderly and others who have problems with their immune systems. Salmonella poisoning is actually an infection known as salmonellosis and around 40,000 cases are serious enough to be reported in the U.S. annually. Experts accept that the actual number of infections could be as high as 30 times greater than the 40,000 because people who get a mild form of salmonella poisoning generally do not report anything, and hence no diagnosis can be made. Most cases are seen over the hotter months during the summer. The symptoms to keep alert for are diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever. Normally all three symptoms will be present and it is not uncommon for the diarrhea to be so bad that hospital treatment is required. It can be within a few hours of being infected that the symptoms show themselves, although in some cases it can take a day or two. In very serious cases the infection gets into the blood and hospitalization is necessary. Salmonella poisoning victims normally recover without medical treatment after about a week. It is only if the sufferer is becoming dehydrated or the infection gets into his bloodstream that serious problems arise. Some patients only require intravenous fluids to help rehydrate the body whilst others require a course of antibiotics to help fight the infection. Although most people recover it may take a couple of months before they actually feel good again. Some people develop other symptoms such as pain when urinating, sore joints and their eyes become irritated. The condition is called Reiter’s syndrome and can remain for up to years and in some cases can even develop into arthritis.

Salmonella Poisoning – What precautions to take

Good hygiene and being aware of a few simple steps can ensure that food remains salmonella free. Just follow these routines and you can remain in good health without contracting salmonella poisoning.

  1. Always wash your hands, kitchen work surfaces and all cooking utensils with hot soapy water as soon as they have been used to work on raw meat or poultry. And always wash your hands thoroughly before you begin working with any food.
  2. Always wash any foods before preparing. If you like vegetables then ensure that you brush the skins well before cooking or discard the outer leaves or skins.
  3. Ensure that the fridge is thoroughly cleaned and is always at a low temperature.
  4. Minced beef, poultry and eggs should all be cooked well before consuming. Make sure that the eggs are not runny and that the meat does not have blood in it. If you are in a restaurant and food comes under cooked then send it back. Be aware that raw eggs can be an ingredient of many unsuspecting foods such as home made ice cream, mayonnaise or other sauces.
  5. If food is being prepared then always refrigerate it and keep it covered when it is not being worked on.
  6. ‘Use By’ dates and any other instructions such as, ‘do not refreeze’ should always be followed.
  7. Avoid handling reptiles or live birds whenever possible and always wash your hands thoroughly straight afterwards if you have handled the creatures.
  8. If you have been infected by salmonellosis then do not prepare foodstuffs until it has been proven that you are no longer infected.

Whenever a case of salmonella poisoning is found it is important to inform the local public health department that way the process to identify if it is an isolated case or an outbreak can begin and then the work to deal with the salmonella outbreak can take place. The source of any outbreak should always be identified whenever possible and if a number of cases are reported then the work to isolate the cause is so much more effective.

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