Health and MedicineDiseasesWhat is salmonellosis and how is it spread?

What is salmonellosis and how is it spread?

Salmonellosis is a very common gastrointestinal infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella. Discover how it is transmitted and how it spreads, knowing what its main causes are.

We are facing, almost in all likelihood, one of the most feared intestinal infections by most people, although it is in fact characterized by being one of the most common of those usually transmitted by food.

We are talking about salmonellosis, an infection of bacterial origin that mainly affects the intestinal tract, and only occasionally the bloodstream. In fact, it becomes one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis (known this time medically as  salmonellagastroenteritis), with most cases occurring especially during the summer months, when the risk of food spoilage he is much older.

What is salmonellosis? What does it consist of?

It consists of food poisoning caused by salmonella bacteria. Salmonella is the name given to a group of rod-shaped bacteria that inhabit the intestines of a wide variety of animals, including man.

Although originally there are more than two thousand types of Salmonella and it is generally harmless, the most relevant for being related to human health and its transmission through contaminated food are Salmonella enteritis’s and  Salmonella typhimurium.

In this sense,  Salmonella typhimurium or simply Salmonella tophi is to blame for producing typhoid fever (a much more serious intestinal infectious disease characterized by high and prolonged fevers and ulceration of the intestines), while Salmonella enteritis’s tends to cause known as non-typhoid salmonellosis.

In the case of enteric fever (or typhoid fever) we are faced with a serious infectious disease that causes a high and sustained increase in fever (around 39ºC to 40ºC), hepatosplenomegaly, weakness, abdominal pain, ulceration of the intestines and in severe cases the bacteria can pass into the blood and affect other organs.

How is salmonellosis spread?

Food poisoning caused by the spread of Salmonella bacteria is the result of eating foods originally contaminated with it, or touching them and then putting our hands in our mouths without realizing it. For example, it can be transmitted after eating food that has not been handled in hygienic conditions, especially eggs and raw meat, as well as fish and even vegetables.

On the other hand, it is also possible that the microorganism multiplies in certain fresh or cooked foods, especially when they are not refrigerated quickly, are not properly preserved, or are not eaten for a long time.

This is the case of mayonnaise sauce and other similar sauces, especially those made at home with fresh eggs. The problem on this occasion is derived from not cooking the egg, since if the bacteria are present it is not destroyed during the production process, and can reproduce if the right conditions are met for it. For this reason it is common to add lemon or vinegar to the sauce, as it helps make it more difficult for bacteria to multiply by providing an acidic medium.

However, we can be calm with undercooked dishes but for immediate consumption, such as the case of soft-boiled eggs or fried eggs, since the presence of bacteria in the egg is not usually high enough to generate the infection. Of course, the risk increases if we obviously maintain a waiting time between preparation and consumption, especially at high temperatures that favor reproduction. This is why salmonellosis is so common during the summer months.

Although this cause is not as well known, reptiles, amphibians and turtles can be carriers of these bacteria, transmitting it through their droppings. The risk is even greater when we have these animals’ at home and also small children, since if the little one touches their droppings -contaminated- they can later contaminate everything they touch.

In summary, causes of contagion of salmonellosis

There is a greater chance of contracting salmonellosis from the following causes:

  • Eating certain foods raw poorly cooked or inadequately preserved. Eggs, certain sauces (such as mayonnaise), turkey or chicken stand out.
  • Handle live poultry.
  • Having a weak immune system, ulcerative colitis, or Cohn’s disease.
  • Antibiotics have been taken lately.
  • You handle or have iguanas, lizards, turtles or snakes at home.


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