Salmonella infection is one of the most common types of food poisoning. It occurs when you eat food or drink water that contains salmonella bacteria.
The salmonella germs may get into the food you eat in several ways.
You are more likely to get this type of infection if you:
Eat foods such as turkey, turkey dressing, chicken, or eggs that have not been cooked well or stored properly
Are around family members with a recent salmonella infection
Have been in or worked in a hospital, nursing home, or other long-term health facility
Have a pet iguana or other lizards, turtles, or snakes (reptiles and amphibians can be carriers of salmonella)
Handle live poultry
Have a weakened immune system
Regularly used medicines that block acid production in the stomach
Have Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis
Used antibiotics in the recent past
What are the symptoms for Salmonella Enterocolitis?
The time between getting infected and having symptoms is 8 to 72 hours. Symptoms include:
Abdominal pain, cramping, or tenderness
What are the current treatments for Salmonella Enterocolitis?
The goal is to make you feel better and avoid dehydration. Dehydration means your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should.
These things may help you feel better if you have diarrhea:
Drink 8 to 10 glasses of clear fluids every day. Water is best.
Drink at least 1 cup (240 milliliters) of liquid every time you have a loose bowel movement.
Eat small meals throughout the day instead of 3 big meals.
Eat some salty foods, such as pretzels, soup, and sports drinks.
Eat some high-potassium foods, such as bananas, potatoes without the skin, and watered-down fruit juices.
If your child has salmonella, it is important to keep them from getting dehydrated. At first, try 1 ounce (2 tablespoons or 30 milliliters) of fluid every 30 to 60 minutes.
Infants should continue to breastfeed and receive electrolyte replacement solutions as recommended by your child's provider.
You can use an over-the-counter drink, such as Pedialyte or Infalyte. Do not water down these drinks.
You can also try Pedialyte freezer pops.
Watered-down fruit juice or broth may also help.
Medicines that slow diarrhea are often not given because they may make the infection last longer. If you have severe symptoms, your provider may prescribe antibiotics if you:
Have diarrhea more than 9 or 10 times per day
Have a high fever
Need to be in the hospital
If you take water pills or diuretics, you may need to stop taking them when you have diarrhea. Ask your provider.
What is the outlook (prognosis) for Salmonella Enterocolitis?
In otherwise healthy people, symptoms should go away in 2 to 5 days, but they may last for 1 to 2 weeks.
People who have been treated for salmonella may continue to shed the bacteria in their stool for months to a year after the infection. Food handlers who carry salmonella in their body can pass the infection to the people who eat the food they have handled.
When should I contact a medical professional for Salmonella Enterocolitis?
Call your provider if:
There is blood or pus in your stools.
You have diarrhea and are unable to drink fluids due to nausea or vomiting.
You have a fever above 101°F (38.3°C) and diarrhea.
You have signs of dehydration (thirst, dizziness, lightheadedness).
You have recently traveled to a foreign country and developed diarrhea.
Your diarrhea does not get better in 5 days, or it gets worse.
You have severe abdominal pain.
Call your provider if your child has:
A fever above 100.4°F (38°C) and diarrhea
Diarrhea that does not get better in 2 days, or it gets worse
Been vomiting for more than 12 hours (in a newborn under 3 months, you should call as soon as vomiting or diarrhea begin)
Reduced urine output, sunken eyes, sticky or dry mouth, or no tears when crying
How do I prevent Salmonella Enterocolitis?
Learning how to prevent food poisoning can reduce the risk for this infection. Follow these safety measures:
Properly handle and store foods.
Wash your hands when handling eggs, poultry, and other foods.
If you own a reptile, wear gloves when handling the animal or its feces because salmonella can easily pass to humans.
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Lima AAM, Warren CA, Guerrant RL. Acute dysentery syndromes (diarrhea with fever). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 99.
Melia JMP, Sears CL. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 110.