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Salmonellosis

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About salmonellosis

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella bacteria are found in the normal intestinal flora of animals, in particular, poultry, pigs, reptiles, birds, some pets, and some humans. They may also be found in the environment.

What is salmonellosis?

Salmonellosis is an infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella. In Québec, salmonellosis is a notifiable disease.

What are the symptoms of salmonellosis?

Certain carriers of the bacteria may have no symptoms. For those who do, the most common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea accompanied with abdominal pain, nausea, and sometimes vomiting or bloody stool

These symptoms appear from 6 to 72 hours after the individual has eaten contaminated food and generally last up to 7 days.

Some infected individuals may have chronic symptoms, such as reactive arthritis (Reiter's syndrome), three or four weeks later.

Who are most at risk of developing complications?

Young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are more at risk of developing complications such as dehydration, septicemia, arthritis, osteomyelitis, and meningitis. Salmonellosis rarely results in death.

How is the infection transmitted?

  • By consuming uncooked or poorly cooked food that is contaminated with the bacteria
  • From person to person (whether or not symptomatic, individuals carrying the bacteria in their stool can transmit them to another person or contaminate any food they handle if they don't thoroughly wash their hands after going to the bathroom)
  • By contaminated objects
  • By contact with contaminated human or animal fecal matter

How can the disease be prevented?

As is the case with the other foodborne infections, the best way to prevent salmonellosis is to adopt good personal hygiene and safe practices when handling and preparing food.

  • Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water before and after handling food, after going to the bathroom, and after touching animals.
  • Clean work surfaces before and after preparing food.
  • Clean or change serving dishes, cutting boards, and utensils between handling uncooked and cooked food.
  • Do not prepare food or share someone else’s food and drink if you have gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Do not eat uncooked or poorly cooked meat, poultry, or eggs.
  • Keep meat separate from fruit, vegetables, cooked food, and ready-to-eat food.
  • Wash and brush raw fruit and vegetables under running water before eating them.
  • Refrigerate food to 4°C (40°F) or less.
  • Promptly refrigerate or freeze food.
  • Always defrost food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave, never at room temperature.

You can find additional information in the consumer's guide Ce lien ouvrira une nouvelle fenêtre. on the MAPAQ site 

How is salmonellosis treated?

In most cases, no antibiotics are required in treating salmonellosis. Antibiotic therapy or intravenous rehydration is sometimes necessary in severe cases or when complications occur.

For more information

Call Info-Santé 8-1-1 or visit the following websites:

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