We are faced, almost in all likelihood, with one of the intestinal infections in a sense most feared by most people, although it is characterized in fact by being one of the most common of those commonly transmitted by food.
We are talking about the salmonellosis , an infection of bacterial origin that mainly affects the intestinal tract, and only occasionally to the bloodstream. In fact, it becomes one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis (known on this occasion medically as salmonella gastroenteritis ), and most of the cases occur especially during the summer months, when the risk of food spoiling is much greater.
What is salmonellosis? What does it consist of?
It consists of one food poisoning caused by salmonella bacteria . Salmonella is the name given to a group of rod-shaped bacteria that inhabit the intestine of a wide variety of animals, among which is precisely man.
Although there are originally more than two thousand types of salmonella and it is generally harmless, the most relevant because they are related to human health and its transmission through contaminated food are the Salmonella enteritidis and the Salmonella typhimurium .
In this sense, the Salmonella typhimurium Or simply Salmonella typhi it is the culprit of producing typhoid fever (a much more serious intestinal infectious disease characterized by high and prolonged fevers and ulceration of the intestines), while Salmonella enteritidis it tends to cause the so-called non-typhoid salmonellosis.
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In the case of enteric fever (or typhoid fever) we have 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 to the blood and affect other organs.
How is salmonellosis spread?
The food poisoning caused by the spread of Salmonella bacteria is the result of eating foods originally contaminated with it , or touch them and then take our hands to our mouths without realizing it. For example, it can be transmitted after eating food that has not been handled under 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 properly preserved, or let a lot of time pass until we consume them.
This is the case of the mayonnaise sauce and other similar sauces, especially the one made at home with fresh egg. The problem on this occasion comes from the non-cooking of the egg, since if the bacteria is present it is not destroyed during the production process, and can reproduce if the appropriate conditions are met. For this reason it is common to add lemon or vinegar to the sauce, as it helps make it harder for bacteria to multiply by providing an acid medium.
However, we can be calm with little cooked dishes but of immediate consumption as it could be the case of the egg passed by water or the fried egg, since in its origin the presence of bacteria in the egg is not usually so high as 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. For this reason salmonellosis is so common during the summer months.
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Although this cause is not so well known, reptiles, amphibians and turtles can be carriers of these bacteria, transmitting it through their excrement. The risk is even greater when we have these animals at home and also young children, because if the child touches their excrements -contaminated- they can then contaminate everything they touch.
In summary, causes of contagion of salmonellosis
There is a greater probability of contracting salmonellosis due to the following causes:
- Consume certain raw foods, poorly cooked or improperly preserved. They emphasize the eggs, certain sauces (like the mayonnaise), the turkey or the chicken.
- Handle live poultry.
- Having a weak immune system, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
- Antibiotics have been used lately.
- Manipulate or have at home iguanas, lizards, turtles or snakes.