Salmonella is a type of bacteria that naturally lives inside the intestines of animals and humans and on the skin of some reptiles, and can also sometimes be found on unwashed, uncooked or undercooked foods like salad greens, eggs or meat. Salmonella food poisoning can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, fever and chills within 12-72 hours after exposure to the bacteria.
Most cases of salmonella infection (salmonellosis) are not life-threatening, and symptoms generally resolve within 4-7 days with no treatment other than fluids. However, severe cases of diarrhea—which are more common in seniors, babies and people with compromised immune systems—may require hospitalization.
To avoid salmonella infection related to food products:
• Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or meat, including ground beef.
• Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and dairy products made from unpasteurized milk.
• Thoroughly wash produce, including sprouts and vegetable greens, before consuming.
To avoid cross-contamination of foods during preparation:
• After handling raw meat or eggs, wash your hands thoroughly before touching other foods, knives and kitchen utensils.
• Wash cutting boards, countertops and other surfaces or items that have been in contact with raw meat or eggs.
Proper hand hygiene is essential to avoid infection. People with diarrhea should thoroughly wash their hands before preparing food—or, better yet, avoid food preparation until the diarrhea resolves. And be sure to wash hands after contact with animal feces or with objects that may be contaminated with animal feces. Children and people with compromised immune systems should not handle animals likely to be contaminated with salmonella, such as reptiles, turtles, or baby chicks or ducks. Following contact with these animals, wash hands thoroughly using soap and water.