Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Does salmonella only come from tainted food?"
Heard that raw eggs and meat and rotten food can give you salmonella. Is this what causes food poisoning too? Can you only get salmonella from food or is it contagious?
Salmonella are bacteria that live in the intestinal tract of humans and animals. Infection with Salmonella is a common occurrence which is the leading cause of food poisoning in about a million of Americans each year, and it shows no sign of it going away. It is transmitted through consumption of contaminated beverages or foods of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and unpasteurized milk as well as by contact with human or animal feces. That said, foods of animal origin are not the only ones contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. All foods can be contaminated, including vegetables and fruits. Thus, it is essential to wash your hands effectively after handling raw foods, using the bathroom or contact with pet feces. You wonder if Salmonella is contagious. It is not airborne where you can catch it by talking to an infected person. However, it can be spread from person to person by fecal-oral route. Salmonella is found in almost all kitchens, but proper food handling and thorough cooking will reliably kill Salmonella bacteria. If you suspect that you have Salmonella food poisoning, you need to see a primary care doctor to confirm and receive treatment. The doctor can confirm the diagnosis with a physical exam, stool culture and blood tests.
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