Yes. No. It depends.
The right answer is,”Usually, no”. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that a little over 140,000 Americans are infected with salmonella each year. Of that number, about 30 die. The chances of dying from lightning or winning the lottery are better than dying from salmonella. The odds go up, slightly, if a the poisoning victim has health problems, though.
Foods like chicken and eggs often have salmonella bacteria. Salmonella can also be found in polluted water and even in some reptiles. Pigs may also become infected with a salmonella strain that may pass to humans.
Two sets of symptoms may appear when a person is infected with the salmonella bacteria.
The first set is known as Gastroenteritis and is related to food poisoning. The symptoms will show up anywhere from several hours to two days after eating tainted food. Gastroenteritis symptoms include nausea, stomach pain, fever, chills diarrhea and muscle pains.
The second set is linked with Typhoid Fever, which is found more often in developing countries. Incubation for Typhoid ranges from 5 to 20 days. The Typhoid strain of infection brings a fever over 102 degrees, a cough, red spots on the upper chest as well as diarrhea that comes with Gastroenteritis.
In addition to poultry and reptiles, Salmonella can spread by:
- Contaminated food — often the food doesn’t look, or smell, bad
- Poor kitchen hygiene
- Excretions from sick, or infected, animals and people
- Polluted surface water
- Amphibians such as frogs
The FDA has published guidelines to reduce the odds of food-borne salmonella. Food should be cooked to 160 degrees (F) and liquids, such as soup and gravy, must be boiled. While freezing foods kill some Salmonella, it is not sufficient to reduce them below infectious levels.
Antibodies to vaccinate against non-typhoidal Salmonella were first discovered in Malawi children. The Malawian scientists identified the antibody that protects children against the infection. A recent study has tested a vaccine on chickens that offer efficient protection against salmonellosis.
Oral rehydration supplements that contain salts sodium chloride can help replenish electrolytes lost through diarrhea. Ceftriaxone, an antibiotic, is given to kill the bacteria and Azithromycin has been found to be better at treating typhoid in resistant Salmonella strains. Since antibiotic resistance is increasing globally, health care providers are instructed to check current recommendations before settling on a specific antibiotic.
While food poisoning from Salmonella bacteria can occur even in the best American residents, travelers to third-world and developing countries can be at particularly high-risk if a few precautions are not taken. Here are some recommendations for those traveling abroad:
- Ensure food is properly cooked and still hot when served
- Stay away from raw milk and goods made from raw milk
- Avoid ice
- If drinking water’s safety is questionable, disinfect it with a slow-release disinfectant agent — usually sold in American pharmacies
- Wash hands frequently using soap
- Wash fruits and vegetables carefully, especially those to be eaten raw
- Read the brochure published by the World Health Organization, “A Guide on Safe Food for Travellers.”