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Salmonellosis is an infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever,vomiting, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. In most cases, the illness lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. In some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient becomes dangerously dehydrated and must be hospitalized.
Intravenous fluids may be used to treat dehydration. Medications may be used to provide symptomatic relief, such as fever reduction. In severe cases, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites; this is known as typhoid fever and is treated with antibiotics.
The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to develop severe illness. Some people afflicted with salmonellosis later experience reactive arthritis, which can have long-lasting, disabling effects. There are just two species of Salmonella, Salmonella bongori and Salmonella enterica. The latter is divided in 6 subspecies: enterica, salamae, arizonae,diazonae, houtenase and indica. These subspecies are further divided into numerous serovars. Because the serovars only differ in serotypes, and therefore in infection potential, the serovars are not italicised and are written with a capital letter as they still belong to the same subspecies.
The species Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica contains over 60% of the total number of serovars and 99% of the serovars that are capable of infecting cold and warm blooded animals as well as humans. Infections are usually contracted from sources such as:
- Poultry, pork, beef and fish (seafood), if the meat is prepared incorrectly or is infected with the bacteria after preparation
- Infected eggs, egg products, and milk when not prepared, handled, or refrigerated properly
- Tainted fruits and vegetables
Reptiles such as red-eared slider turtles and green iguanas may carry Salmonella bongori (which inhabits cold-blooded animals) in their intestines which can cause intestinal infections. The most severe human Salmonella infection is caused by S. enterica subsp. enterica ser. Typhi which leads to typhoid fever; an infection that often proves fatal if not treated with the appropriate antibiotics. This serovar is restricted to humans and is usually contracted through direct contact with the fecal matter of an infected person. Typhoid fever is endemic in the developing world, where unsanitary conditions are more likely to prevail, and which can affect as many as 21.5 million people each year. Recorded cases of typhoid fever in the developed world are mostly related to recent travel in areas where Salmonella Typhi is endemic.