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revised March 07, 2012

Environmental Health

Food

Food Poisoning

Salmonella

Salmonella bacteria can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common types of food poisoning.

You could get salmonellosis by eating contaminated food, from contact with an infected person, and from contact with animals, birds or reptiles.

What are the common food sources?

  • Raw and undercooked meats (especially poultry, e.g., chicken, turkey, duck)
  • Raw and undercooked eggs
  • Unpasteurized milk and milk products (e.g., cheese)
  • Unpasteurized juice
  • Raw vegetables and fruit
  • Spices
  • Nuts

What are the symptoms and health effects?

You may develop these symptoms 12 to 72 hours after you are exposed to salmonella bacteria, and they could last for up to five days:

  • Sudden headache
  • Fever
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting (sometimes)

Most people recover without any long-term health problems. However, sometimes the salmonella bacteria can enter your bloodstream, causing a much more severe illness.

Children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe illness.

What should I do if I have it?

Drink lots of fluids and get lots of rest.

See a doctor if your symptoms are severe. You may be given antibiotic treatment.

Children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems should see a doctor because they may need treatment or hospital care.

How can I protect myself?

  • Avoid unpasteurized milk and milk products.
  • Clean vegetables and fruit before you eat them.
  • Clean your hands with hot soapy water, especially after playing with pets, after using the washroom and after touching raw meat.
  • Separate raw meat and raw eggs from other food.
  • Heat meat (especially poultry) and eggs thoroughly while cooking. Use a food thermometer.

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Revised: March 07, 2012

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