Salmonella is a common form of gut infection in humans and animals. It occurs widely throughout the world.
Salmonella can live in the gut of animals, birds, reptiles and humans without making them sick. The bacteria can be passed on to people handling these animals, and then handling food without washing their hands first.
The bacteria may be present in food products made from these animals and passed on when the food is not cooked properly. The food may be contaminated by an infected person.
What does it do to you?An infection can cause a "mild stomach upset" or severe gastro-enteritis.
Usually, you will become ill twelve to twenty-four hours after eating contaminated food. The illness usually starts suddenly, with headache, stomach pain, diarrhoea, fever and frequent vomiting.
The symptoms usually last one to three days. On rare occasions, the illness can have more serious effects in the very young, the very old, or someone who is already sick. Some people may not have symptoms but can still be infectious.
How is it treated?Like most illness spread by food, Salmonella infection will get better on its own. If you are quite sick, the doctor may recommend antibiotics.
How do I avoid getting salmonella and passing it on to others?
A health protection officer from the Public Health Unit (PHU), or an environmental health officer from your local council, will be able to tell you when it is safe to return to work.
Salmonellosis is a notifiable disease - what does this mean?By law, your doctor must give your name, address, age, the name of disease, and where you work to the public health medicine specialist (based at the Health Protection Unit), who may arrange for a health worker to contact you. The information you give is kept confidential and is used to keep track of the illness, to know how many people have had it, and to prevent others becoming infected from the same source.
More informationFor more information about salmonella, please contact your doctor, a health protection officer from the Health Protection Unit (telephone (07) 838 2569), or an environmental health officer at your local council offices.