DOCTOR IS IN: Signs and symptoms of Salmonella

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.

The federal government has put on a full court press into tracking Salmonella infections, identifying associations with food products and other exposures and finding the solutions.

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.

Atlanta, what has been your experience? Share your stories, share your ideas. Post.

  • Monica M. Farley, MD, is infectious disease expert and professor of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine.
  • Visit the CDC to learn more about Salmonella.

(Information provided by Emory on this site is intended solely for general educational purposes and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health provider for any questions you may have regarding your health and medical condition. If you rely on any information available through this website, you do so at your own risk. You understand that you are solely responsible for any damage or loss you may incur that results from your use of or reliance on any material or information provided by Emory through this website.)

4 comments Add your comment


March 4th, 2009
7:28 pm

After many months of Salmonella in the news, now you publish the symptoms?


March 6th, 2009
9:28 am

anonymous – did you ask before now?


August 19th, 2010
9:38 am

Appreciate the info. Of course I’m aware of salmonella and I always treat fresh meats, esp. pork, and eggs with extra care. Put them in bottom basket at grocery store, place them last on the rolling check out belt,and ask that they be put in separate store shopping bags.I have seen people not mind when the baggers place fresh chicken – in leaking pastic, yet – on top of fresh strawberries packed in containers iwth open airholes.

At home I store these iffy products, well wrapped up, in a separate refigerator.

Even so, I had a bout of illnes last week which correspondens with the salmonella symptoms. Now blame that on a softboiled egg.

GT 97

August 19th, 2010
12:49 pm

Darn…What should we eat? Looks like everything is a risk. How do you check a stool sample when it is like a water faucet running out the rear end after being infected?