SYMPTOMS and SIGNS
Symptoms can range from mild to sever diarrhea generally with fever. More severe typhoid fever can progress rapidly to a life threatening disease and requires medical treatment. Elderly persons and children are at greater risk for more serious disease.
Symptoms may resolve without treatment, but antibiotic are generally effective. A vaccine is available for typhoid fever but not for strains associated with common gastroenteritis.
CAUSES and RELEVANCE to FLORIDA
Many different strains of Salmonella enterica have been described, but it is not clear whether they are all equally virulent in humans. Some strains seem to have greater affinity for animal hosts, including reptiles. Wild populations of birds are thought to be a natural reservoir of Salmonella and may influence disease incidence in Florida due to large numbers of migratory birds in the state. Illness is generally associated with undercooked poultry and eggs. Buffet dinners are common sources. However, recent outbreaks have involved atypical sources such as tomatoes and unpasteurized orange juice. Occasional cases of Salmonella have been related to exposure from contaminated river water during recreational activities. Recent reports show relatively high prevalence of the bacterium in shellfish, suggesting another potential source of infection.
THOROUGH COOKING will eliminate any risk of Salmonella. Most salmonellosis occurs when undercooked meat or eggs are allowed to stand for periods of time at temperatures that promote growth of the bacterium. Using meat thermometers when cooking poultry, especially stuffed poultry, will greatly reduce the risk of disease. Wash hands and cutting surfaces and avoid boards made with more porous materials.
Prepared by Anita C. Wright, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Food Microbiology
University of Florida Food Science and Human Nutrition Department