Salmonella Infection: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Salmonella are gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria, there’re over 2,300 subtypes of the Salmonella, only about 12 of them make people ill. The most common Salmonella infection causes diarrheal illness, the specific type Salmonella Typhi causes typhoid fever and Salmonella Paratyphi causes paratyphoid fever.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Salmonella bacteria cause about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year. The common source of infection is contaminated water and food, pet reptiles and poor hygiene.

Most people can recover from Salmonella infection in a few days without specific treatment.

Children under 5 years old and people taking certain medicines are at a higher risk of infection. Infants, adults aged 65+, and people with a weakened immune system are the most likely to have severe infections.

Salmonella infection is more common in summer than in winter.


Most common Salmonella infection causes diarrhea and gastroenteritis (stomach flu). Symptoms usually occur in a few hours to two days after eating contaminated foods, and may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Bloody stools
  • Muscle pain
  • Dizziness

These symptoms generally last up to seven days. In the longer term, some may have additional symptoms of:

  • Change of bowel habits for a few months
  • Joint pain for a few months to years (1)
  • Irritation of the eyes (2)
  • Pain when urinating (3)

People who develop (1), (2), (3) after the Salmonella infection has ended are likely to have reactive arthritis, one of the complications of Salmonella infection.

Typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever are more common in developing countries and sometimes deadly, symtpoms include:

  • Low to high fever
  • Headache and body pain
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Dry cough
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling in abdomen
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Itching or rashes


Doctors may order blood test and/or test a sample of your stool. Sometimes, they may want to do a sample culture to identify the exact kind of bacteria you have.

Most people can recover from their symptoms by the time the test results return.


In healthy adults, symptoms of Salmonella infection usually disappear without specific treatment in 7 days.

Dehydration can be a serious complication of Salmonella infection, which makes intake of plenty of water and other fluids containing electrolyte necessary, Pedialyte is an example of fluid with minerals.

Common medications include anti-diarrheals and antibiotics. Antibiotics are not necessary for most of people, severe cases and people with weakened immune system may need antibiotics.



Salmonella can be found in many foods, including sprouts and other vegetables, eggs, chicken, pork, fruits, and even processed foods, such as nut butters, frozen pot pies, chicken nuggets, and stuffed chicken entrees. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.

Following the simple steps at home – Clean, Seperate, Cook and Chill – can help prevent you from Salmonella infection and other food poisoning.

  1. Wash your hands with soap often, wash your utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water, and rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water.
  2. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the fridge or plate or on the cutting board.
  3. Cook foods to a safe internal temperature.
  4. Refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours, and thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Never thaw foods on the counter.

The inside of eggs can contain Salmonella, if you have to eat raw eggs, consider buying and using pasteurized eggs.


Some pets, particularly birds and reptiles, can carry Salmonella bacteria.

  • Don’t kiss cats, dogs, chickens, turtles, lizards, or other pets or animals.
  • Don’t let children younger than age 5, people with weakened immune systems, or older adults touch high-risk animals (like turtles, frogs, chickens, or ducks) or their belongings or habitats.
  • Don’t keep high-risk animals inside the house.

Good hygiene

Wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap

  • before preparing foods
  • after touching pets and other animals
  • before eating and drinking
  • after using the bathroom
  • after changing a baby’s diapers
  • after gardening

Related posts:

Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Small Pet Turtles

Prevent food poison – how to cook & chill foods

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.