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Salmonella

Salmonella is an infectious, food-borne illness. Symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. These symptoms can last for up to 7 days.

Causes

Salmonella is caused by the salmonella bacteria entering the body through the mouth usually from unwashed hands and infected food or drink. Possible routes of the infection are:

  • by eating contaminated foods such as poultry or poultry based foods, eggs or egg products and milk or dairy products
  • contact with infected animals, pets and farm animals
  • contact with infected cases

How it is spread

Salmonella can be spread by hands contaminated with bacteria, from handling raw poultry or other foods or by a person with diarrhoea. It is possible to be a carrier without having any symptoms or even knowing that you are infected. Anyone who has diarrhoea is advised to isolate themselves from others. If you handle food or drink or work with young children or elderly people you should tell your employer.

Precautions

  • wash hands thoroughly before preparing or serving food or drink, after dealing with anyone with diarrhoea, after changing a baby’s nappy, after handling raw meat and after using or cleaning the toilet
  • cover open wounds or sores with a waterproof plaster
  • keep all perishable foods in a fridge separating raw meat from other foods
  • only take food out of the fridge just before use
  • keep fridge temperature to 8°C or below
  • ensure frozen foods are properly thawed before cooking
  • keep kitchen surfaces and utensils perfectly clean. Wash them between preparing different foods
  • ensure foods are cooked thoroughly
  • do not let pets or other animals in the kitchen when preparing food. Do not wash food bowls with the family dishes
  • do not buy or eat food past its ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date
  • do not reheat food more than once
  • always follow the instructions on cooking and reheating microwave and ready meals carefully to ensure that the food is evenly heated

Treatment

No treatment is usually given for salmonella infections. In some cases antibiotics may be prescribed.

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