By Monica M. Farley, MD
Recent news about peanut butter and Salmonella has left many people wondering what they need to know to protect their health and their family’s health.
From a doctor’s point of view, I want to be sure information is available about the health effects of Salmonella, and how to know if you have symptoms. Of course, some groups of people are more vulnerable if they come in contact with salmonella than others — such as infants, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases or immune system impairment.
The bottom line for recognizing symptoms: they usually start about 12 hours to three days after infection look for diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and headache. Also nausea, loss of appetite and vomiting can last four to seven days.
Many people with salmonella will clear the disease within five to seven days and do not need treatment. If there is severe diarrhea, however, intravenous fluids may be needed. Some people have to go to the hospital for care. If the disease spreads from your intestines into your bloodstream, a health care provider can treat it with antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin.
It is important to contact your health care provider if you think you could be infected. Lab tests can be done to look for Salmonella in your stool. A culture may also help public health investigators track the source of Salmonella infections.
Remember, too, that Salmonella can be found in foods of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but any food, including vegetables, may become contaminated. It is best to thoroughly wash produce and avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or meat.
Salmonella may also be found in reptiles, such as turtles, lizards, and snakes, and in chicks and ducklings. Be sure to wash your hands or your childуs hands immediately after handling a reptile or bird, even if the animal is healthy.
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