Salmonella bacteria can cause food poisoning. Here's what you should know if you think you've been infected.
On average, it takes from 12 to 72 hours for the symptoms to develop after swallowing an infectious dose of salmonella.
Symptoms usually last for four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.
But if you become seriously ill, you may need hospital care because the dehydration caused by the illness can be life-threatening.
Anyone can get salmonella, but young children, the elderly and people who have immune systems that are not working properly (including people with cancer, AIDS or alcoholism) have a greater risk of becoming severely ill.
You usually get salmonella by eating contaminated food. Salmonella bacteria live in the gut of many farm animals and can affect meat, eggs, poultry and milk. Other foods like green vegetables, fruit and shellfish can become contaminated through contact with manure in the soil or sewage in the water.
Contamination is also possible if raw and cooked foods are stored together. Most tortoises and terrapins and other pet reptiles can also carry salmonella. Dogs, cats and rodents can occasionally become infected.
It is impossible to tell from its appearance whether food is contaminated with salmonella. It will look, smell and taste normal.
Salmonella can be spread from person to person by poor hygiene, by failing to wash your hands properly after going to the toilet, or after handling contaminated food.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water:
If someone has salmonella, wash all dirty clothes, bedding and towels in the washing machine on the hottest cycle possible.
Clean toilet seats, toilet bowls, flush handles, taps and wash hand basins after use with detergent and hot water, followed by a household disinfectant.
It is important to drink plenty of fluids as diarrhoea or vomiting can lead to dehydration and you can lose important sugars and minerals from your body. Your doctor may recommend a rehydration solution, available from your pharmacist.
Sometimes severe cases are treated with antibiotics. If you are given antibiotics, it is essential that you complete the course as prescribed.
Yes. While you are ill and have symptoms, you are infectious. Children and adults should stay away from nursery, school or work for 48 hours after the symptoms have stopped.
You should tell your employer you have had salmonella if you work with vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the young or those in poor health, or if you handle food.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.