Overview of Food Poisoning Due to Salmonella

Salmonellosis is a serious and potentially fatal infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Salmonella which are naturally found in the intestines of mammals (especially chicken), birds, reptiles and some humans. Behind only the Norovirus pathogen, Salmonella is the second leading cause of food poisoning in this country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) currently estimates that nearly one million Americans suffer a foodborne illness caused by Salmonella every year. There is one serotype of Salmonella (rare in the United States) that can cause Typhoid fever, a life threatening communicable disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi.

In the majority of cases, non-typhoidal Salmonella leads to relatively mild gastrointestinal illness similar to that caused by other bacterial enteric pathogens. Symptoms usually appear soon after exposure (6-72 hours) and include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and sometimes fever. Most affected persons fully recover without medical treatment within about 3-7 days. However, some patients require hospitalization due to severe dehydration or fever. In more serious cases, treatment with antibiotics may also be indicated to guard against or treat the spread of the infection from the digestive tract to other parts of the body. In severe cases involving spread of the infection to tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or within the blood stream (sepsis), death or other serious complications can occur. According to estimates released by CDC, in June 2011, foodborne Salmonella infections cause more than 19,000 hospitalizations and nearly 400 deaths in the U.S. annually. In a small number of cases, Salmonella infections lead to Reactive Arthritis, also known as “Reiter’s Syndrome.” Also, some persons who have suffered Salmonella food poisoning subsequently develop a functional gastrointestinal disorder known as Post Infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Children younger than 5 and elderly persons experience a much greater incidence of Salmonella infection and suffer complications disproportionately. Other at risk populations include individuals using antacids or corticosteroids, persons suffering inflammatory bowel disease, owners of pet reptiles, and patients with AIDS, cancer, recent transplants or other reasons for impaired immune systems. Learn more about other Types of Foodborne Illnesses.

The Causes and Prevention of Foodborne Salmonella Infections and Illnesses

Most Salmonella infections are caused by consumption of contaminated and undercooked poultry or eggs (including egg shell fragments). Other known food sources have included beef, pork, lamb, shrimp and other shellfish, peanut butter (and foods made with peanut butter), unpasteurized milk and dairy products made with raw milk, unpasteurized apple or orange juice, powdered infant formula, chocolate/cocoa (and products with chocolate as an ingredient), and various raw fruits and vegetables including alfalfa sprouts, jalapeno and serrano peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, and cantaloupes. Contamination of food occurs when there is contact with the feces of an animal host or infected human. Heat will destroy Salmonella so proper cooking is essential to prevention. In particular, all raw chicken should be cooked to reach a minimum internal temperature of 165˚F. No raw eggs or foods/drinks containing raw eggs should ever be consumed. Proper food handling practices should be followed to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, utensils, countertops and cooked foods. Hand washing is essential for all food handlers, and for persons who have diarrhea or have had contact with someone with diarrhea.

Get Legal Advice From a Georgia Food Poisoning Attorney

The Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Ragland Law Firm, LLC have represented many victims of food poisoning and allergic food reactions. They have also represented many consumers injured by foreign objects in a food or drink product. Food safety is a focus area for the law firm and its trial attorneys are available to pursue a liability claim or lawsuit anywhere in Atlanta and the surrounding counties of Gwinnett County, Cobb County, Clayton County, Douglas County, Cherokee County, Henry County, Forsyth County, Rockdale County, and Hall County, Georgia. Learn more about the firm’s Food Safety Case Results. If you or a family member has suffered salmonella food poisoning or any other type of foodborne illness, we invite you to contact us for consultation with a qualified food poisoning lawyer.

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