Patient Information Leaflet

Patient Information Leaflet
What is it?
Salmonella is a bacterial infection, which can cause a diarrhoeal illness
sometimes with vomiting. Salmonella bacteria can multiply in the bowel of
humans and animals, including birds and reptiles. Salmonella infection is
acquired by swallowing the bacteria. In most cases this is through the
consumption of contaminated food or drink. Salmonella is a common cause
of food poisoning throughout the world. There are many different types of
There is often an increase in reported cases of Food Poisoning due to
Salmonella infection during the summer months. This is often the result of
holidaymakers acquiring the disease abroad and importing it.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms usually start between 12 and 72 hours after consuming food or
drink contaminated with Salmonella. Symptoms include:
 Abdominal/stomach pain
 Diarrhoea
 Nausea/vomiting
 Fever
 Joint pains and ‘flu like’ symptoms occur occasionally
Symptoms commonly persist for about 7 days but this varies from person to
person. Not everyone who swallows the bacteria will develop symptoms.
This often depends on how healthy the person is, their age, and/or how many
bacteria were present in the food. Rarely, the Salmonella infection may
spread from the bowel to other areas of the body or may cause septicaemia
(blood poisoning). If this occurs prompt medical attention must be sought.
How does Salmonella spread?
Handling or eating infected raw food products e.g. meat, poultry, eggs.
Poor hygiene in the kitchen e.g. cross contamination caused by sharing
kitchen utensils and chopping boards between raw meats, poultry etc. and
foods that are not cooked before eating, such as tomatoes.
Some animals, particularly reptiles, may have no symptoms whilst carrying
Salmonella bacteria in their bowel. This is why it is very important that
hands are always washed thoroughly after handling any animal.
It can spread from person to person where thorough hand hygiene
practice is not observed before handling food.
September 2006
What precautions do I have to take?
1. Thorough hand washing, taking care to clean the fingertips and between
the fingers. Wash hands :
and before
handling raw meat
 cooking
handling any animals
 handling food
changing nappies
 eating
visiting the toilet
 feeding the young or elderly
outdoor working or leisure activities
handling clothes which are dirty due to outdoor working or leisure
Ensure all foods are thoroughly cooked.
Do not use the same chopping board or kitchen surface or knife for raw
meat or poultry and then for other foodstuffs without first washing it
thoroughly to prevent cross contamination.
Store poultry and meats in the fridge. Store cooked food at the top of the
fridge and uncooked food at the bottom.
Thoroughly wash all salad vegetables and fruit before consumption
Do not drink unpasteurised (raw) milk or milk in bottles where the tops
have been pecked by birds.
Remove any clothing contaminated with animal faeces (e.g. wellington
boots, overalls) and then wash your hands.
Exclude pets and pests from food preparation areas.
Will I need treatment?
Generally people who have Salmonella do not require treatment other than
making sure that they drink enough fluid to prevent dehydration.
In severe cases, very young infants or where people are being excluded from
work an appropriate antibiotic may be prescribed by your GP. If an antibiotic is
prescribed, it is important that you complete the course as instructed on the
bottle or packet.
In most cases patients can return to work when they have been symptom free
for 48 hours. Food businesses may have their own guidelines that
exclude individuals for longer.
If you need this or any other NHS Grampian
publication in an alternative format (large print) or
in another language please contact the Health
Protection Team on 01224 558520
September 2006