DESCRIPTIONA salmonella infection is a general infection caused by one of the 12,000 or more germs in the salmonella family. The gastrointestinal tract and lymphatic system are involved. Appropriate health care includes: self-care; physician's monitoring of general condition and medications, if symptoms continue longer than 48 hours or for complications; hospitalization (rare).
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSDiarrhea, often accompanied by abdominal cramps. In mild cases, diarrhea may be only 2 or 3 loose bowel movements a day. In severe cases, it may be watery diarrhea as often as every 10 or 15 minutes.
Vomiting; fever; blood in the stool (sometimes).
A relatively mild salmonella infection may be mistaken for simple gastroenteritis.
CAUSESInfection with salmonella bacteria after eating meat that contains the bacteria. Salmonella bacteria survive freezing, but thorough cooking kills them. Pet turtles can also carry salmonella bacteria.
Salmonella epidemics often occur when many people eat the same contaminated food at a picnic, social gathering, or restaurant. The infection can be transmitted from person to person.
Recent gastrointestinal illness; crowded or unsanitary living conditions.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Follow these recommendations for your child and yourself in any area with a substandard water supply:
-- Drink purified water, boil water, or add 2 to 4 drops of 4% to 6% chlorine bleach to each quart of water 30 minutes before use.
-- If in a hotel, draw hot water from the faucet, let it cool and use it as drinking water.
-- Don't use ice.
-- Don't eat raw fruits and vegetables unless you can peel them.
Other instructions for your family:
Drink only pasteurized milk.
Wash your hands after bowel movements and before handling food.
Isolate anyone in the family who has the infection.
Ask your doctor about preventive antibiotics before traveling in countries with unsanitary water and food supplies.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory stool studies.
Dehydration from excessive diarrhea and vomiting. Severe dehydration can be fatal, especially in infants.
Infection of other organs, such as the kidneys, gallbladder, spleen, and lungs, from salmonella bacteria in the bloodstream (rare).
Most salmonella infections are mild and curable with treatment in 24 to 48 hours. Children with severe infections require hospitalization and isolation. The infection may last 2 to 3 weeks.
Isolate the ill child, if possible.
Use a heating pad or hot-water bottle to relieve your child's abdominal cramps.
If diarrhea is severe, use a bedside commode.
Medicine is usually not necessary for mild cases. Anti-diarrhea medications may retard the child's recovery. For severe cases, your doctor may prescribe anti-diarrhea medication, antibiotics to fight infection, and intravenous fluids for severe dehydration.
Your child should stay in bed, except for trips to the bathroom, until at least 3 days after diarrhea, fever, and other symptoms disappear. Then the child can resume normal activities gradually. Flexing the legs regularly in bed helps prevent the formation of blood clots.
DIET & FLUIDS
Offer your child only clear liquids until diarrhea stops. Then serve the child a high-calorie, well-balanced diet. Vitamin and mineral supplements may be helpful after prolonged illness.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your infant has symptoms of a salmonella infection and shows signs of dehydration, such as dry, wrinkled skin, decreased urination, or dark urine.
Your child has symptoms of a salmonella infection that persist longer than 48 hours.
The following occurs during the illness: fever of 102F (38.9C) or higher; jaundice; cough with blood; worsening diarrhea.