Preventing Future Infections – Salmonella

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Cook animal products thoroughly. Don’t eat or drink foods that have unpasteurized milk or raw eggs. This is the most common way people get infected with salmonella. Don’t hesitate to send undercooked meat, poultry and eggs back to the kitchen when you’re eating out.

  • Salmonella is most commonly found in animal products, but vegetables may also get contaminated. Be sure to wash all your vegetables before cooking them.
  • Wash your hands and work surfaces after they come into contact with raw poultry, meat or eggs

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Wash your hands after handling animals and their feces. This is another common way that salmonella is spread. Healthy reptiles and birds can carry salmonella on their bodies, and it’s also present in cat and dog feces. Any time you handle an animal or its feces, be sure to wash your hands with soapy water
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Don’t allow children to handle reptiles and young birds. Baby chicks, lizards and turtles, for instance, each carry salmonella on their faces. A child cuddling one of these animals could come into contact with salmonella. Since the infection is harder on a child’s immune system than an adult’s, it’s best to forbid children from getting close to animals who could contaminate them.[4]
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Treating Salmonella

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Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Loss of fluids through vomiting and diarrhea creates the risk of dehydration. It is important to replace lost fluid and electrolytes by drinking water, herbal tea, juice, and broth. Even if it doesn’t feel good to drink, this is the best way to keep up your body’s energy and get past the worst of the symptoms.

  • Try eating a popsicle, ice chips or some sorbet as a way to get both water and sugar into your system.
  • Drink plenty of water especially after severe bouts of vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Children can drink a rehydration solution like Pedialyte to restore fluids and electrolytes

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Take an anti-diarrhea medication. loperamide (Imodium A-D) can help to relieve the cramping associated with salmonella-related diarrhea. However, this medication can also prolong the diarrhea itself.[3]

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Eat bland food while recovering from a salmonella infection. Eating salty or spicy foods can further aggravate your already-sensitive digestive system. Avoid rich fatty foods as well, which your digestive tract may find irritating.

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Use a heating pad or warm compress. Lay it over your abdomen to help relieve any cramps you may be experiencing. A hot water bottle, or a hot bath, will also do the trick

Treat Salmonella Step 6

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Rest and give your body time to heal. Overdoing it may increase your recovery time. Your body will naturally fight against the salmonella and it will recover more quickly if you do not put undue stress on it. Take a few days off of work or school if you’re still experiencing diarrhea and vomiting

Diagnosing Salmonella Poisoning

Salmonella poisoning most often results from coming into contact with water or food contaminated with the salmonella bacteria. It can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, and is often referred to as food poisoning. Symptoms occur within 2 to 48 hours and can last up to 7 days. They usually go away on their own, but complications can arise on rare occasions.

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Identify the symptoms. Salmonella infection is usually caused by eating raw eggs or meat products that are contaminated with the bacteria. There’s an incubation period of a few hours to up to 2 days, followed by symptoms that can usually be classified as gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach or intestines.[1] The most common symptoms of a salmonella infection are the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Blood in the stool

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Know when to see the doctor. While salmonella usually doesn’t pose a high health risk, individuals with compromised immune systems, such as people with AIDS, sickle cell disease or inflammatory bowel diseases, are at an increased risk of complications from salmonella poisoning. Children and the elderly are also more likely to experience serious complications. If the symptoms don’t seem to be ebbing, and the person experiencing them is in a higher-risk group, it’s advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible. Immediate medical attention should also be sought if your or the person you’re concerned about experiences the following:

  • Dehydration, leading to decreased urine output, decreased tear production, dry mouth and sunken eyes.
  • Signs of bacteremia, a condition in which the salmonella enters the bloodstream and infects body tissues in the brain, spinal cord, heart, or bone marrow. A sudden high fever, chills rapid heart rate and an appearance of serious illness are signs that this may be occurring

Treat Salmonella Step 1

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Get tested for salmonella infection. The doctor will assess the your symptoms and in most cases advise getting plenty of fluids and resting until the symptoms pass, since they usually go away on their own. If the doctor determines a test is necessary, a stool sample will be tested to determine whether it contains salmonella. [2]

  • The doctor may also decide to test a blood sample to determine whether bacteremia has occurred.
  • The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the salmonella infection has spread beyond the digestive system.
  • If dehydration becomes severe enough, the patient may need to be admitted to the hospital to take fluids intravenously

 

How can I make sure the food I eat is safe?

While it’s largely up to food producers and retailers to make sure the foods you’re buying aren’t contaminated with listeria, taking the steps below will help cut your risks of infection:

• Rinse raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water—using a clean vegetable brush scrub on those with thicker skins—before cutting or eating. That even applies to foods with inedible peels like cantaloupe, to avoid spreading bacteria from the outside of the fruit to the flesh when you peel or cut it.

• Keep your fridge below 40° F (our experts recommend 37° F) and your freezer no higher than 0° F. Use a refrigerator thermometer to check those temperatures regularly. Even small increases in temperature cause any listeria bacteria present to multiply much more quickly, according to Ben Chapman, associate professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University. For example, 100 listeria cells (the term used for measuring the amount of bacteria present) in a food can grow into 1,000 cells in about eight days in a refrigerator set at 41° F. At 45° F, it would only take four days for 100 cells to become 1,000 cells.

• Limit storage time for refrigerated foods, especially opened ready-to-eat foods like deli salads and cut produce. Eat deli-sliced meats, or packaged-luncheon meats that have been opened, within three to five days. Hot dogs, once their packaging is opened, should be used within a week.

• Store leftovers no longer than 3 to 4 days in covered containers that are shallow to promote rapid, even cooling. Reheat them to 165° F and bring soups or sauces to a boil before eating.

• Wash your hands before and after handling food. Clean up all food spills in the fridge immediately and thoroughly clean your fridge regularly to avoid spreading any of the bacteria from one food to another.

Finally, even though the odds of getting listeriosis are low for most people, the health risks it poses are so serious that it’s worth keeping tabs on the latest listeria-related recalls on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. You can also sign up on the site to get safety alerts when recalls are announced—an especially good idea for anyone in high-risk groups.  

 

What other types of food have been recalled recently due to contamination with listeria bacteria?

Possible contamination of organic spinach triggered many product recalls this spring.

A variety of foods were recalled this year because testing showed that listeria could be present, even though no illnesses had been linked to these products at the time they were recalled—nor has the CDC reported anyone being sickened by them to date. They include: Greystone Foods’ Today Harvest Field Peas with Snaps, Silver Queen Corn, and Broccoli Florets; Goodseed and Henry’s Farm branded sprouts; Hyvee Pasta salad; Jamba At-Home Smoothie Kits; Jeni’s Splendid frozen desserts; Rising Moon Organics Frozen Ravioli; Sabra Classic Hummus; Subway and Sun Rich packaged apple slices.

Listeria contamination of a food used as an ingredient in other products can trigger multiple recalls. In March of this year, Coastal Green Vegetable Co.—a California supplier of organic spinach—announced a recall due to possible listeria contamination. A cascade of related recalls of frozen organic spinach quickly followed: Cadia Organic Cut Spinach, Wild Harvest Organic Cut Leaf Spinach and house brands sold by Meijer, and Wegmans. There also were recalls of other frozen products, such as La Terra Fina Spinach Artichoke & Parmesan Dip & Spread, and a variety of frozen meals from Amy’s Kitchen, including Amy’s Vegetable Lasagna and Amy’s Spinach Pizza. The companies said they had been informed by their organic spinach suppliers that they had received the potentially contaminated product, though they did not name the supplier. No illnesses were reported to date in relation to any of these recalls.

 

Ice cream has been the cause of listeria outbreaks.

When companies recall listeria-contaminated foods, what do they do to make sure future products are safe?

Identifying the source of the bacteria and eliminating it is essential and can require steps ranging from setting up new sanitizing systems in production facilities to establishing new listeria testing requirements.

For example, Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream announced in late December 2014 that it was recalling all of its products produced during that year because they had been linked to two cases of listerosis. The company then shut down its plant for a month to fully sanitize it. It also implemented new safety programs that required bacterial testing results from all of its suppliers, as well as third-party testing of its production facility and of all batches of ice cream prior to shipping, which was able to resume in late January.

When Blue Bell recalled all of its ice cream products in late April, it also halted production at its four plants to carry out an intensive cleaning program, which included major repairs and sanitizing equipment. But in a May 15 press release announcing layoffs at the company, Blue Bell said that the process of cleaning and improving its plants will take longer than anticipated. It also said it had no timeline for when it would begin producing ice cream again, and that when production does resume, it will be limited and phased in over time.

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How can I make sure the food I eat is safe? – 12.05.15

What are the odds of being infected with listeria, and how serious are the health risks?

Pregnant women are 10 times more likely than other people to be infected.

Listeria is responsible for about 1,600 cases of foodborne illness a year. That’s a lot less than other types of bacteria—for instance, salmonella sickens about 1 million people, and norovirus affects about 5 million. Yet listeria is the third-leading cause of death from foodborne illness, according to the CDC. The majority of people who get sick from listeria end up being hospitalized, and the bug kills one out of five people it infects. The Blue Bell outbreak, for example, caused 10 illnesses, three of which were fatal.

Some groups of people should avoid high-risk foods because they are more likely to suffer from listeriosis and become severely ill. This includes people age 65 or older, who represent nearly 60 percent of cases. Also at higher risk are people of any age with weakened immune systems (including those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation) or conditions such as diabetes, alcoholism, and liver or kidney disease. In these groups, listeria often causes life-threatening bloodstream infections or meningitis.

Pregnant women are about 10 times more likely than the general population to be infected. Though the women themselves may experience only flu-like symptoms, listeria infections during pregnancy can cause miscarriages, stillbirths or lethal illnesses in newborns.

Hispanic pregnant women are about twice as likely as other pregnant women to get listeriosis. The CDC says this is probably because soft cheeses like queso fresco are a big part of their diets. Queso fresco caused an outbreak of listeriosis in California in 1985 that sickened 142 people, causing 20 miscarriages as well as killing 10 newborns and 18 adults. Most of the victims were pregnant Latinas or their infants.

People who aren’t in any of these high-risk groups usually experience only mild gastrointestinal symptoms, or none at all, after eating listeria-contaminated foods, but some do suffer from the bug’s more severe health effects. For instance, among the 34 hospitalized victims of a 2014 outbreak linked to pre-packaged caramel apples sold at supermarkets in several states were three otherwise healthy children between the ages of five and 15 who developed meningitis.

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What foods are most often contaminated with listeria?

Ready-to-eat refrigerated foods, smoked seafood, pates, and meat spreads are a few of the high-risk foods. Deli meats and hot dogs can also be risky, unless they are cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. Blue-veined and other soft cheeses including feta, brie and Camembert, queso fresco, queso blanco, and Panela are potential sources, too. The risk is greatest if these cheeses are made with unpasteurized milk, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some soft cheeses made from pasteurizedmilk also have caused listeria infections, most likely due to contamination during the cheese-making process.

Fresh produce also has been the source of listeria outbreaks. For example, raw bean sprouts were responsible for a 2014 listeria outbreak that killed two and sickened three people. (Sprouts require warm and humid growing conditions, which also are ideal for listeria growth, and rinsing sprouts doesn’t remove the bacteria.) In 2011, listeria-tainted whole cantaloupes from a single Colorado farm caused the deadliest U.S. foodborne disease outbreak in nearly 90 years, sickening 147 people in 28 states and killing 33. A federal investigation found unsanitary conditions at the farm’s processing facility, which was likely the reason the fruit was contaminated.

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What are the odds of being infected with listeria, and how serious are the health risks? – 10.-05-15