Salmonella Infection: Causes and Effects
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Recently, food safety is an increasingly important public health issue with news of food poisoning reported daily. Governments all over the world are intensifying their efforts to improve food safety. These efforts are in response to an increasing number of food safety problems and rising consumer concerns. Foodborne is any illness resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses or parasites that contaminate the food. Foodborne disease is a common, costly yet preventable and is a widespread public health problem, both in urban and rural areas. Symptoms of foodborne illness range from mild gastroenteritis to life-threatening neurologic, hepatic and renal syndromes. Foodborne diseases are incorrectly referred to as food poisoning due to the similarity in symptoms. Examples of foodborne diseases are Botulism, Brucellosis, Salmonellosis and many more. Salmonellosis is a type of foodborne disease caused by the Salmonella bacterium (WebMD, 2011). Salmonella food poisoning happens when the gastrointestinal tract or the digestive tract is infected by a variety of types of Salmonella bacteria (Brian MD, 2011). The two most common are Salmonella serotype Typhimurium and Salmonella serotype Enteritidis. According to the United States Department of Health & Human Services (South Heartland District, n.d.), approximately 40,000 cases of Salmonellosis are reported in the United States each year. The actual number of infections may be 30 times greater because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported.
Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of people and animals and are often passed on from the preparation of food to the process of food consumption. The main cause of salmonella is due to the improper hygiene of food handlers. A frequent cause is when a food handler does not wash his/her hand with soap after using a bathroom. Food becomes contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler. Infection can also spread from cutting boards, counters and kitchen utensils. Besides, some food can be contaminated such as meat during the butchering process, fish when harvested in contaminated waters and fruits and vegetables if being watered with contaminated waters or during the washing process before distribution. Furthermore, public are aware of the handling of certain animals can spread the salmonella infection. Snakes, turtles, birds, chicks and other reptiles may carry salmonella. Children are exposed to salmonella by holding and cuddling infected animals. Salmonella can also be found in the faeces of some pets, especially those with diarrhoea (Jerry Shaw, 2010).
The history of Salmonella outbreak is between 2002-2003 when there was a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections which were ultimately associated with the consumption of raw milk. Sixty-two people were infected from various countries including Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Illinois. Out of the 32 food samples tested, five were positive of Salmonella Typhimurium including three raw skim milk samples, one raw milk butter sample and one raw cream sample. Upon investigation, only the consumption of raw milk was associated significantly with the illnesses (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2009). A recent outbreak of Salmonella was linked to tainted melons have killed two victims and leaving 141 ills in 20 states in the United States. It is said that the salmonella outbreak linked to the contaminated rock melon grown in Southern Indiana. Agriculture experts said that the frequent problems with rock melon come from the nature of the melons and sloppy agricultural practices (Liz Szabo, 2012).
One may prone to Salmonella infection during travelling which is more common in developing countries with poor sanitation. People with pets and reptile also have a higher risk of Salmonella infection. People living in group housing are more prevalent to Salmonella infection simply because they are exposed to more people. In addition, food prepared at the universities' canteen often uses large amount of ground meat or unshelled eggs that have been pooled from many source. Besides, infants and elderly are more prone to Salmonella bacteria due to the weak immune system in their bodies. Besides, Salmonella infection happens more frequently during the summer compare to other seasons (Victor Smida, 2011).
Salmonella germs are resistant in the environment. They can survive about 5 to 6 months in polluted water and feces, survive and reproduce in at room temperature in wet environments, in food and infusion solutions. Transmissions of Enteric Salmonellosis are caused by Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi A, B and C. All the clinical entities are different in characteristic development and lasting immunity of the body. Contamination is made orally when a person eats infected food or drink infected water. After an incubation period about 14 days, the disease begins with lethargy, malaise, fever and pain during the first week followed with constipation along this period. In the second week, the bacteria are back into circulation and will cause high fever, sensitive stomach and possibly pink macules on the abdominal skin (Victor Smida, 2011).
Mayo Clinic staff (2011) stated that the symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning generally begin within 8 to 72 hours after ingesting food or beverages contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Most salmonella infections can be classified as gastroenteritis. Symptoms of Salmonellosis include fever and chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, multiple bouts of diarrhea which may be bloody and severe abdominal pain and cramps. Generally, with proper care to avoid dehydration, healthy adults can begin to seek improvement in their symptoms within a couple of days and can recover completely with a week. Most people recover without treatment. In some cases, Salmonella food poisoning can result in serious or life-threatening complications, such as severe dehydration and Reiter's syndrome. A small number of people who are infected with Salmonellosis develop Reiter's syndrome, a disease that can last for months or years and can lead to chronic arthritis. Seek immediate medical care if one has a change in level of consciousness or alertness, dizziness, eye irritation, painful joints, weakness and painful urination. Signs and symptoms of salmonella infection generally last four to seven days but it may take several months before the bowel habits are entirely normal.
Basically, replacement of fluids and electrolytes is the focus of treatment because salmonella infection can be dehydrating. However, if the diarrhea is severe, hospitalization may require especially to younger kids, seniors and people with compromised immune systems where fluids are delivered directly into the vein. If a person is suffering from dehydration due to Salmonella, it is advisable to give the person rehydration drinks, like Pedialyte or Rehydralyte. Alternatively, the person can also be given sports drinks. Usually, it is recommended that the person continue with normal diet to obtain necessary nutrients and help in hastening process. In addition, doctor may recommend anti-diarrheal to help relieve cramping. If the salmonella bacteria are suspected to enter the bloodstream, doctor may prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria (OnlineMedicineTips.com, n.d.) However, prevention is better than cure. According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, good hygiene is a priority when handling with food, pets and children (2011). Salmonella can be prevented by avoiding raw or unpasteurized milk and other dairy products. Wash hands after getting into contact with animal feces especially reptiles since reptiles are particularly likely to carry salmonella bacteria. Also, refrigerate and freeze leftovers right away and eat them within two or three days of refrigerating. Moreover, avoid having contact with a person who has infectious Salmonella food poisoning or its symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea. On top of all, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration (Imraan Seedat, 2010).
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