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Salmonella

 

What is a salmonella infection?

Salmonella is a bacteria that causes gastrointestinal illness, which can sometimes lead to a more serious infection. The sickness can start anywhere from 6 to 72 hours after the salmonella gets into your mouth. You may be sick for about seven days, or for several weeks. Infected children younger than 5 years of age commonly shed the bacteria in their stool for up to 12 weeks.

 

 

 

What are the signs and symptoms of a salmonella infection?

Symptoms of a salmonella infection can include:

§  Fever

§  Headache

§  Diarrhea (sometimes containing blood)

§  Cramping

§  Nausea and loss of appetite

§  Sometimes vomiting

See a doctor if you think you may have a salmonella infection. A stool sample kit can be provided to you to determine if the infection is salmonella.

 

 

How is it spread?

Salmonella bacteria are in the intestines of animals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles, and infected people. Salmonella can get into your mouth from raw or undercooked meats, chicken, turkey or fish; eggs, raw milk and raw cheese; and raw fruits and vegetables and their juices. 

Pets, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, turtles, snakes and others, can be carriers of salmonella, along with some pet treats, fish tanks, animal and bird cages, and bird feeders. It can also be found in lakes and streams, swimming pools and water supplies.

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care offers additional information on contact with amphibians, reptiles and feeder rodents as a source of salmonella.

The bacteria can also be transmitted from person-to-person through fecal-oral transmission. People with salmonella in their intestines can spread it to others when they handle or prepare food.

Travelers to warm climates and developing countries can come into contact with salmonella.  

Salmonella can be spread by:

§  Food handlers with improper food handling, poor hand washing and personal hygiene

§  Infants and toddlers who are not toilet trained, to their family members, caregivers and playmates

§  People who do not get sick or show symptoms, but carry the bacteria in their intestines

§  People with poor bowel control, to their environment in homes and hospitals

Salmonella is not spread through normal, everyday contact with neighbors or friends.

 

 

How can I prevent salmonella infection?

Proper hand washing technique is the best way to prevent salmonella.

Always wash your hands thoroughly:

§  Before preparing food

§  After using the toilet, helping others go to the washroom, or changing soiled diapers

§  After touching animals and pets, pet food, treats and toys, and cleaning up after your pet

Food preparation

Do not prepare food for others if you have salmonella.

Foods that are contaminated with salmonella bacteria do not look or smell bad.

Follow the four steps of proper food handling:

Clean

§  Wash your hands before preparing food and often while you are making it.

§  Wash fruits and vegetables with clean water before cooking or eating.

§  Clean and then sanitize cutting boards, utensils, and countertops after preparing raw meat, poultry, egg products and raw vegetables.

§  Sanitize with a mild bleach and water solution: mix 1 ml (¼ teaspoon) of unscented household bleach into 500 ml (2 cups) of water.

§  Let the sanitized surface air-dry.

§  Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and their juices away from other food items while shopping and during storage in the refrigerator.

§  When preparing food keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from food that won’t be cooked. Use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods.

Separate

§  Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and their juices away from other food items while shopping and during storage in the refrigerator.

§  When preparing food keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from food that won’t be cooked. Use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods.

Cook

§  Cook all meat, fish and poultry to safe temperatures. Use a food thermometer.

§  Cook whole poultry to 82°C/180°F.

§  Cook food mixtures that includes poultry, egg, meat, fish to 74°C/165°F

§  Cook poultry (other than whole poultry) and ground poultry to 74°C/165°F

§  Cook pork, pork products, ground meat that does not contain poultry to 71°C/160°F

§  Keep hot foods hot above 60°C/140°F if not served right away.

§  If you are employed as a food handler or a health care worker, go home or stay home when you have symptoms of nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.Report your symptoms to your manager. Contact your health care provider for stool testing.

Chill

§  Keep the fridge at 4°C (40°F) or below.

§  Chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours.

§  Thaw food in the refrigerator, under cold running water or in the microwave just before cooking. Never thaw at room temperature.

 

 

Other ways to prevent a salmonella infection

§  Use only pasteurized milk and foods made from pasteurized milk.

§  Use only pasteurized juice or apple cider.

§  Use only eggs that are graded, clean, and free of cracks.

§  Eat only foods that contain well cooked eggs. Homemade eggnog, mayonnaise, Hollandaise sauce, raw cookie dough, salad dressings, ice cream and mousses could have Salmonella from raw or lightly cooked egg.

§  Keep pets away from food storage and preparation areas.

§  Keep reptiles and turtles out of homes where there are infants, children 5-years-old or less, elderly or people who have problems fighting disease.

§  Drink water from a safe supply. Lakes, streams, or other sources are untreated and may not be safe. Keep water out of your mouth while swimming in lakes or pools.

If you have a salmonella infection, you will be contacted by Public Health for follow-up.