View of the Reno Sparks night skyline from Rancho San Rafael Regional Park
View of the Reno Sparks night skyline from Rancho San Rafael Regional Park

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Salmonellosis (Salmonella)

Peanut butter-related Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak – January 2009

For current information regarding this outbreak, please visit the FDA's Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak page and the CDC's Investigation Update: Outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium Infections, 2008–2009 page.

Salmonellosis is an illness with symptoms that usually begin in the intestines. It is caused by a bacterium called Salmonella.
  • About 40,000 cases are reported in the United States each year (actual number may be significantly higher, as many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported.
  • About 400 people with acute Salmonella die each year.
  • It is more common in the summer than in the winter.
  • Children are the most likely to get Salmonella.
Yes.
Diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps.
Through the feces of people or animals including birds and especially reptiles (this includes turtles) to other people or animals, usually through food that has been contaminated, either though direct contact with infected feces or through unwashed hands of an infected food handler (didn’t wash hands after using the bathroom).
Symptoms develop within 12 to 72 hours after infection.
Usually five to seven days.
Depends on environmental conditions.
Through fecal specimens sent to a testing laboratory.
At least 72 hours, as testing involves growing a culture.
  • Most infected persons recover without treatment.
  • Some develop severe diarrhea, leading to dehydration and hospitalization for rehydration with intravenous fluids.
  • In some cases, the infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, then to other body sites. In these cases, death can result unless the infected person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
  • A small number of people go on to develop Reiter’s syndrome (pains in joints, irritation of the eyes and painful urination), which can last for months or years and can lead to chronic arthritis.
  • Young children, the elderly and the immunocompromised are the most likely to have severe infections.
  • Most infected persons recover without treatment unless the person becomes severely dehydrated.
  • Antibiotics usually are not necessary unless the infection spreads beyond the intestines.
  • Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Salmonella.
  • The primary method of prevention is to thoroughly wash your hands
    • After using the bathroom
    • After having contact with animal feces
    • After handling reptiles or birds
  • Avoid cross-contamination by
    • Thoroughly washing your hands before handling any food and between handling different types of food
    • Keeping uncooked meats separate from produce, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods
    • Thoroughly wash hands and cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils used to prepare uncooked foods of animal origin.
  • Do not eat or drink raw or undercooked foods of animal origin (e.g., eggs, poultry or meat or unpasteurized milk).
  • Thoroughly wash produce before eating.
  • If you have Salmonella, do not prepare food or pour water for others until you have been shown to no longer be carrying the Salmonella bacterium.

This document has been adapted from information provided by the CDC.