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Salmonella Infection: Symptoms and Prevention

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Nov 20, 2022

Salmonella Infection: Symptoms and Prevention

Salmonellosis is a common bacterial infection that results in some digestive symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting. In this article, we will discuss its definition, signs, and symptoms, and if there are possible ways to prevent salmonella infection.

What is Salmonella?

Salmonella is a type of bacteria. There are many types of Salmonella bacteria; for instance, there’s Salmonella typhi which causes typhoid fever, and Salmonella paratyphi which results in Parathyphoid fever.

However, these types are rare compared to the Salmonella bacteria that cause the more common diarrheal disease.

In general, Salmonella bacteria are “persistent”. According to the WHO, they can survive in a dry environment for several weeks and can live for months in a wet environment.

What is Salmonella Infection?

Salmonella infection, also called Salmonellosis, happens when a person gets the Salmonella bacteria in their body, typically through ingestion. This is why it’s considered a foodborne disease.

To prevent Salmonella infection, it’s important to understand that people can contract it by eating foods that are contaminated with the feces of infected animals.

Here are some important notes to remember about its transmission:

  • Salmonella is common in animals that are available for human consumption, such as cows, chickens, and pigs. That’s why we can get it from meat, poultry, eggs, and milk.
  • People who take care of infected animals may get the bacteria on their hands.
  • Although it’s more common to get Salmonella infection from meat and poultry, you can also contract it from eating fruits and vegetables contaminated by an infected animal’s manure.

how to prevent salmonella infection

The Signs and Symptoms of Salmonella Infection

To prevent salmonella infection complications, you must be aware of its signs and symptoms.

After unknowingly ingesting Salmonella bacteria, a person commonly shows symptoms within 6 hours to 6 days, but typically within a day and a half. The signs and symptoms to watch out for are:


Salmonellosis often results in diarrhea or loose watery stools. At times, people with salmonella infections also experience bloody diarrhea. This is the reason why the WHO considers Salmonellosis as 1 of the 4 global “key diarrheal diseases.”

Stomach Symptoms

Aside from diarrhea, an infected person may also experience abdominal pain or cramping. It can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.


And because Salmonellosis is an infection, the body will try to fight off the bacteria and this could result in fever. Moreover, the fever is sometimes accompanied by chills and headaches.

Most people will suffer from the symptoms for several days, but others may endure it for several weeks. The good news is, Salmonellosis is often mild and patients make recovery after a specific treatment.

However, it can still result in dehydration and other life-threatening complications, especially with children and the elderly.

How to Prevent Salmonella Infection

Since Salmonellosis is a foodborne disease, the WHO emphasizes that prevention should occur in all stages of the food chain. That means measures must be undertaken from production to home preparation.

Wash Your Hands Frequently

Since you can get the bacteria in your hands, it’s possible to prevent Salmonella infection through hand washing. Experts suggest washing hands, especially after:

  • Touching animals that may be infected by Salmonella bacteria
  • Going to the comfort room
  • Cleaning up manure of domestic or livestock animals
  • Changing diapers
  • Handling raw meat

Make Sure that Your Food is Well-Cooked

The good news is, heat from cooking can kill the Salmonella bacteria. With this in mind, make sure that you’re cooking food thoroughly and that they are not raw or undercooked. Other important points to remember are:

  • Microwaving food may not be able to kill the Salmonella bacteria.
  • When you’re traveling, be sure to eat the food only when it’s served fresh or hot.
  • Be careful when eating foods with raw ingredients, like salads.
  • As much as possible, don’t eat eggs with “runny” yolk.
  • Consider your milk. As much as you want to have “fresh milk,” choose to drink one that’s already pasteurized or boiled.

Be Cautious with Your Fruits and Vegetables

Because we can contract Salmonella from contaminated fruits and vegetables, don’t forget to wash them thoroughly before serving. This is true, especially if you eat salads. For fruits, one good tip is to peel the skin before eating them.

Handle and Prepare Foods with Care

Aside from washing your hands and making sure that the food is well-cooked, you can also prevent salmonella infection by handling and preparing food with care. Some tips include:

  • Cleaning the surfaces where you place your food and the equipment you use to prepare them. These include countertops, cutting boards, and knives.
  • If you are sick, do not cook for others.
  • Make sure that the water you use in cooking is also clean.

Separate Cooked from Uncooked Meat

To prevent cross-contamination, make sure that:

  • There are separate containers for cooked and uncooked meat, in and out of the fridge.
  • You will not place cooked meat on a plate that previously contained uncooked meat.
  • You have prepared two cutting boards and knives – one for cooked, the other for uncooked meat/raw items.

Don’t Forget to Chill Cooked Foods

On a regular day, experts advise against keeping the food at room temperature for more than two hours. However, if it’s hot, you must chill the food instead of leaving it for more than 1 hour. Additionally, keep your fridge’s temperature under 4.4 degrees Celsius.

Key Takeaways

Although it is a common foodborne and diarrheal disease, there are a lot of ways on how to prevent Salmonella infection. The most important tips include frequent hand washing, safe steps in food preparation, and ensuring that food is well-cooked.

Learn more about Infectious Diseases here. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Nov 20, 2022

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