What is Salmonellosis?

Jacob Queen

Salmonellosis is the name for the illness people get when their bodies are contaminated with the salmonella bacteria. This kind of infection generally leads to diarrhea, and it’s not unusual for people to also have problems with vomiting. The severity of salmonellosis varies significantly. It can be dangerous under certain circumstances, but usually people are able to recover without that much difficulty.

The fever and vomiting associated with a bad case of salmonellosis may cause.
The fever and vomiting associated with a bad case of salmonellosis may cause.

There are many different ways to contract salmonellosis. One of the most common ways is through contaminated food, especially meats that have been undercooked. Many people enjoy eating their meet cooked rare, and they may feel that it isn’t that dangerous, but experts say that it can increase a person’s chances of contracting salmonellosis. Another common way of catching the disease is through contact with animal feces or contact with the feces of an infected person. This contact doesn’t have to be direct—the illness can be caught when touching a toilet seat or some other item that was accidentally contaminated with feces.

Salmonella is associated with raw chicken.
Salmonella is associated with raw chicken.

Hand washing is often recommended as the best way to avoid salmonella poisoning. Some experts also recommend using thermometers on cooked meats to ensure that they reach a safe temperature. In general, maintaining good hygiene, especially when cooking or spending time around food, is considered the best way to avoid infection.

A Salmonella bacterium.
A Salmonella bacterium.

In many cases, when people are suffering from a so-called "stomach virus" or "stomach flu," they are actually dealing with the disease. It’s generally a very common form of food poisoning, and usually people don’t actually go to the doctor when suffering from it. For most people, the symptoms go away without any treatment, so this lack of diagnosis isn’t often a big problem.

Hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid salmonella poisoning.
Hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid salmonella poisoning.

In certain rare situations, salmonellosis can become dangerous. Sometimes a person will have a particularly bad infection, and they may run a fever or vomit until they are severely dehydrated. In these situations, doctors may prescribe antibiotics, or they may even hospitalize people to help rehydrate them. There are also cases where salmonella can get into a person’s bloodstream, which can potentially be deadly. This is particularly common in people with weaker immune systems.

For most people, dealing with salmonella poisoning is just a matter of getting some bed rest and staying hydrated. Experts say that it usually takes less than a week for a person’s immune system to fight off most of the symptoms. People suffering from salmonella can potentially spread it to others through accidental or indirect fecal contact, so staying home can potentially help prevent outbreaks.

Salmonellosis may cause vomiting.
Salmonellosis may cause vomiting.

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Discussion Comments


My nephew got salmonellosis from a pet water turtle. He probably forgot to wash his hands after holding the turtle. He might have kissed it too, we're not sure. But his test results came back and it's salmonella gastroenteritis. His parents are very careful about what he eats and the doctor said that it might be from eggs or meat. He didn't have eggs or meat recently, so we think that it's the turtle.

People with reptiles need to be careful about this. Hands should be washed immediately after holding them.


@ysmina-- The cause of your symptoms is probably different because salmonellosis does cause diarrhea. It causes nausea and vomiting too, and maybe headaches but not usually dizziness.

If you also develop diarrhea, especially bloody diarrhea, you need to see a doctor right away. They can do a test to see if you have salmonella bacteria. The treatment for salmonella is antibiotics and possibly IV fluid to fight dehydration. Make sure to drink lots and lots of water if you're not given an IV.


What are the symptoms of salmonella poisoning? Does it cause dizziness in addition to nausea and vomiting?

I've been sick since yesterday. I ate out for lunch and become sick in the evening. I have dizziness, nausea and vomiting but no diarrhea. Could this be salmonellosis?


The article credits meat as one of the main culprits behind the infection, but other less obvious foods can be contaminated with salmonella. For instance, a salmonella outbreak in 2009 resulted in a recall of peanut butter by the FDA.


Persons who have the highest risk of contracting salmonellosis disease are children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system. Surprisingly, the infection is most common during the summer months.

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