Salmonellosis (caused by the bacterium Salmonella)

Salmonellosis is the most common and widely distributed food-borne illness, with tens of millions human cases occurring worldwide every year. It is caused by the bacterium, Salmonella, and is contracted by consuming food that is contaminated with the bacterium. Since the beginning of the 1990s several antibiotic- resistant salmonella strains emerged, causing a serious public health concern. There is no vaccine currently available.

Salmonellosis is an illness generally characterised by diarrhoea, fever and abdominal cramps that begin between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness can last from 4-7 days, and most individuals recover without treatment.However, some cases may be so severe that hospitalisation is required.

In these cases, Salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites, often resulting in death unless prompt treatment with antibiotics occurs. In a small number of individuals that are infected develop reactive arthritis, which can last years and eventually develop into chronic arthritis. The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are most at risk for Salmonella infection.

How to prevent salmonellosis:

Prevention requires control measures at all stages of the food chain. Salmonella can pass through the entire food chain from animal feed, primary production, and all the way to households or food-service establishments and institutions.

  • Cook poultry, beef and eggs thoroughly.
  • Do not eat, drink or serve foods containing raw eggs, or raw (unpasteurised) milk.
  • Practice clean-as-you-go.
  • Avoid any cross contamination (make use of colour-coded boards to separate food groups)
  • Wash your hands before handling any food, between handling different food items and in-between tasks.
  • Keep food at safe temperatures
  • No staff member should prepare food while suffering from fever, diarrhoea, vomiting or any visible skin lesions.
  • Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly, and the immune-compromised.

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