Salmonella has been in the news thanks to a recent outbreak linked to cantaloupes. Dr. Jesse Bracamonte is a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic. He has some tips on how to prevent being bit by this bacterial bug.
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Salmonella is a bacterial infection that affects the intestinal tract.
"Salmonella is contracted through poorly cooked foods — such as meat, poultry, eggs, milk — poor water conditions or poor sanitation," says Dr. Bracamonte.
The infection also can be spread through human and animal feces.
"Salmonella may cause an intestinal infection, such as having diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, and, in some cases, fever," he says.
The good news is that, generally, cases will resolve on their own within a few days.
"In some cases, with severe illness, where it's unrelenting beyond a few days, seeking prompt medical attention is very important," says Dr. Bracamonte.
So how can you protect yourself?
Be careful when preparing food, especially raw meat and poultry. Prevent cross-contamination of foods, and most importantly, wash your hands.
People can become ill from infection from a variety of sources. Commonly infected foods include:
Some pet foods, including dry dog food, may be contaminated with salmonella and can infect animals.
Dr. Bracamonte says salmonella also is harbored in some animals, such as reptileacs and birds. So if you have those pets, it's important that you wash your hands appropriately after handling them.