Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Salmonellosis is a gastrointestinal infection caused by the Salmonella bacteria. It is one of the most common infections in the United States. The infection is transmitted by eating contaminated or inadequately processed foods, especially eggs, chicken, turkey, or duck, or by drinking contaminated water. The bacteria can survive freezing. Thorough cooking helps to decrease the risk but doesn’t completely eliminate it. It can be spread from person to person. Pet turtles can also carry the bacteria. The disease is detected by a culture done on a stool specimen. Most infections are curable with treatment in 24–48 hours.

Living With Your Diagnosis
An epidemic can occur when many individuals eat the same contaminated foods, such as at a restaurant or a social function. The signs and symptoms appear within 6–48 hours after eating the contaminated food. They include nausea, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea accompanied by abdominal cramping.

If possible, infected individuals should be isolated, or at least have them use a separate bathroom. Good hand washing is essential to prevent the spread of the disease. Antibiotic treatment may be needed for patients who have a prolonged fever. If the fever is high, use tepid sponge baths to reduce it. Don’t give Tylenol or other such medications because they may mask the symptoms. Bed rest hould be maintained until the symptoms subside. Increased fluid intake is needed to prevent dehydration. A liquid diet including Gatorade or Pedialyte should be followed until the diarrhea stops; then regular foods should be resumed, gradually increasing caloric intake until recovery is complete.

The DOs
• Have the infected individual use a separate bathroom or clean the bathroom after each use (use gloves).
• Rest in bed until the symptoms subside.
• Use tepid sponge baths to reduce fever. Don’t use Tylenol.
• Maintain fluid balance. Drink Gatorade or Pedialyte to replace lost fluids because of the diarrhea.
• Use a heating pad or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to help ease abdominal pain.
• Resume a regular high-calorie diet after the diarrhea stops.
• Wash hands before eating, and before and after preparing raw poultry.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t use Tylenol or other such medications because it may mask symptoms.
• Don’t let others use the same bathroom unless it has been thoroughly cleaned.
• Don’t eat raw or undercooked poultry or eggs, or drink unpasteurized milk.
• Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly before eating and after handling poultry.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If signs of dehydration are present, such as dry, wrinkled skin and dark or decreased urine.
• If symptoms last longer than 48 hours.
• If the temperature goes higher than 102°F.
• If diarrhea worsens.
• If the skin or eyes turn yellow.

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