Why is Salmonella Dangerous?
December 19, 2018
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), salmonella causes approximately 1.2 million illnesses and more than 20,000 hospitalizations every year – and the infection also kills about 450 people annually. The majority of salmonella cases are caused by contaminated foods (approximately 80%). In order to limit the likelihood of becoming infected with salmonella, it is advisable to practice safe food handling and hand washing practices, along with a few other effective prevention methods.
What is Salmonella — and Some of the Common Signs and Symptoms
Similar to E. coli (the infection recently linked to recalled romaine lettuce), salmonella is a bacterium that typically resides in the intestine. When a person gets ill from salmonella the infection is actually called salmonellosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that children (especially children younger than 5-years-old) are particularly at risk for becoming infected with salmonella after consuming contaminated foods or coming into contact with other sources. Other people who are at high risk for salmonella infections are individuals with compromised immune systems, young adults, and older adults.
When a person gets salmonella, he or she can experience severe and extreme symptoms. Sometimes people become so ill that they require inpatient hospital care – others need surgical intervention. Usually it takes somewhere between 12 to 72 hours for the symptoms of salmonellosis to develop after a person is infected. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of salmonella infections include:
- Diarrhea, which can result in extreme dehydration;
- Abdominal cramping;
- Bloody stools;
- Headache, and:
- Cold and chills
Although it is most common to get salmonella from contaminated food sources, it is also possible to pick up the infection elsewhere. People can get salmonella from improper food storage and handling practices, as well as if they allow one food source to come into contact with another (e.g. juices from contaminated chicken coming into contact with lettuce). Some other culprits behind cases of salmonellosis are:
- Fertilizer with contaminated animal feces;
- Unsafe hand washing practices, such as using the bathroom and failing to wash your hands afterwards, and:
- Pets, including dogs, reptiles, and cats (and more)
Side Effects from Salmonella
More often than not for healthy and non-immune compromised adults, salmonella infections resolve in just a few days without medical intervention. But some people get really sick and need to go to a doctor or be admitted to a hospital. As is usually the case, the earlier an infection is diagnosed the better the prognosis, or outcome, is for the patient.
Some people experience short and long-term side effects after developing salmonellosis – while others end up having permanent complications. Although uncommon, some people develop reactive arthritis after becoming ill from the bacterium. Reactive arthritis is a condition that causes temporary or permanent joint pain, and can also cause frequent urination and eye problems. Another complication related to salmonella infections are blood infections, which can affect the brain, spinal cord, heart, and bones and are also sometimes deadly.
If you think that you may were exposed to salmonella bacterium and are experiencing high fever, bloody stools and/or dehydration, it is critical to contact a medical professional right away. Symptoms and complications from the infection can be treated, but it is advisable to catch them as early as possible.
The Best Ways to Avoid Getting Sick
In order to avoid getting sick from salmonella, the CDC recommends several helpful safety tips. Here are a few examples:
- Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, coming into contact with animals, changing diapers, or taking care of someone with a salmonella infection. If you were diagnosed with salmonella, you should avoid preparing drinks or food for anyone, and:
- Do not consume any foods containing raw or undercooked eggs;
- Keep your kitchen clean and disinfected, including all appliances and countertops
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
If you became ill after exposure to unsafe or contaminated food, we are happy to answer your questions and have one of our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers review your case for free. Galfand Berger has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.