Report a possible Salmonella illness

What is Salmonella infection?
Salmonella are bacteria that can cause infections (illness) affecting the intestinal tract, urinary tract, bloodstream or other body tissues.  

How common is Salmonella infection?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Salmonella causes approximately 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths every year in the United States.

People at highest risk for severe illness from Salmonella infection are children <5 years, Adults >65 yrs, and people with weakened immune systems (for example due to HIV, diabetes, or undergoing cancer treatment).

Many Salmonella infections are not diagnosed or reported, so the actual number of cases may be much higher.

What are the symptoms of Salmonella?

  • Most people will develop symptoms about 6-72 hours after exposure to the bacteria.  
  • Symptoms may include:
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Abdominal cramps
  • Most illnesses with Salmonella will last 4-7 days; some infections may be severe and require hospitalization.
  • A small number of people may develop reactive arthritis as a result of a Salmonella infection.

How is Salmonella spread?
Salmonella is usually spread to people through eating contaminated food.  Salmonella can be found in many places in our foods and our environment. The bacteria can be found in raw meats, eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products.

Salmonella infections may happen through handling/contact with certain animals or their feces (poop).  Animals such as poultry (chicks), livestock, dogs, cats, and reptiles may carry Salmonella and spread it to people.

When to call your healthcare provider
Many Salmonella infections resolve on their own; however, if symptoms are not getting better within a few days, see your healthcare provider.  

Infants, young children, elderly, or those with impaired immune systems may be more at risk for more serious illness—consult with your healthcare provider for recommendations.

If you think you (or your child) is becoming dehydrated from being ill, seek medical advice

If there is blood in the stool or vomit, consult with your healthcare provider

Eggs in carton
How is Salmonella diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider may ask you to submit a sample of your stool (poop) or other specimen for testing.

Raw Whole Chicken
How is Salmonella infection treated?
If you are having vomiting or diarrhea, make sure you drink enough fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

Most cases of Salmonella resolve on their own; those at risk for complications or who have severe illness may need treatment with antibiotics.  Your healthcare provider will determine if antibiotics are appropriate for your case.

How do I avoid Salmonella infection?

  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats and eggs; use a food product thermometer to ensure that meats are thoroughly cooked.
  • Do not cross-contaminate foods or kitchen work surfaces with raw meat juices.
  • Avoid drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk or consuming foods made with unpasteurized milk.
  • Wash your hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, or after activity where your hands become soiled.
  • Wash hands after feeding, playing with, or caring for animals.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.

Is there anything special I need to know?

If you are working in food service, healthcare, or childcare; or you have a child that has Salmonella and attends childcare, please consult with your local public health agency for guidance on when it is safe to return to work/childcare.

Even after symptoms resolve, you may still be shedding Salmonella bacteria in your stool, so practice good hand washing.

Why does public health investigate Salmonella cases?

It is the responsibility of the local health department to investigate Salmonella in the community. The health department keeps track of how many people are reported with the disease and works to limit the number of people exposed.  

Most people infected with Salmonella are single, sporadic cases. However, sometimes there are outbreaks when two or more people become ill from the same source. The health department monitors Salmonella in an attempt to identify and stop outbreaks of the disease.  

Larimer County Department of Health and Environment is part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention monitoring system that studies what puts people at risk for getting Salmonella

Baby chicks