Gary Ginsberg (Toxicologist) gives expert video advice on: What are 'salmonella' and 'salmonellosis'?; How is salmonellosis diagnosed?; How can I prevent salmonellosis? and more...
What are 'salmonella' and 'salmonellosis'?
Salmonella is a bacterium that tends to be in dairy products and it can also be in egg salad and in other high protein foods. But dairy is sort of the classic example. If it's spoiled, if it's been sitting out too long, the bacteria can overgrow, become a really high density population, that if you take it into your body can cause food poisoning , or salmonellosis. And that could be anything from an upset stomach to a lot of nausea and vomiting, high fever, dehydration, and if it's a young child with a weakened immune system or an old person, even death.
How is salmonellosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of salmonellosis has a lot to do with the context for the illness. Someone will present with these kinds of nausea and vomiting symptoms. Sometimes it's part of a cluster where several people are reacting, either from a restaurant or from a picnic. So it's the context within which these symptoms are occurring that you can start understanding that maybe they ate tainted food and the treatment is usually symptomatic - to try to make sure that they've got enough water, that their fever doesn't spike, that if you can use an anti-emetic to control the vomiting and nausea, it's really symptomatic treatment.
Can meat thermometers help me avoid salmonellosis?
One of the ways that we have figured out to prevent salmonellosis is with meat thermometers. In your restaurants and food establishments, they get inspected by a safety agencies to make sure that they've got the thermometers in place and that the meats are staying either at elevated temperatures to prevent the growth of salmonella, or cold temperatures, but not in that range where salmonella likes to grow. And for you around the home, if you are tending to serve a lot of meat and having it sitting out for periods of time, you want to make sure that you are keeping it at the right temperatures. You can also be well advised to have a meat thermometer to make sure you're not allowing the growth of salmonella.
Can I contract salmonellosis from pets?
Another concern are pet turtles and reptiles because they are known to contain on their bodies trace levels of salmonella which could be transferred into say a young child and lead to some symptoms you would not even suspect. You would not know where it was coming from. So it is a good idea handling these things to wash your hands, before doing the next project.