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Diseases & Topics

Salmonellosis

Salmonellosis is an infection with bacteria called Salmonella. People can get Samonella infection from eating raw or undercooked foods, particularly meat, poultry, eggs or unpasteurized milk. In recent years there have been more outbreaks caused by people eating contaminated fresh fruits and vegetables. People can also get it from handling pets — including dogs, cats, reptiles, birds or baby chicks, aquatic frogs and turtles — and through contact with tropical fish tanks and pet feces. In North Carolina, the sale of turtles is restricted (10A NCAC 41A .0302) to prevent the spread of Salmonellosis to humans.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized to prevent severe and sometimes fatal complications. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

Prevention steps include thorough handwashing, especially before and after handling food, after handling animals, and after using the bathroom. Safe food preparation practices are also essential, such as keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold, washing all produce, keeping raw and cooked foods separate, and making sure all meats and eggs are thoroughly cooked.

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