Salmonella infections, also known as salmonellosis, usually occur after eating meat, chicken, eggs, or products made from eggs that may be raw or undercooked. Once ingested, the salmonella bacteria passes through the stomach and can colonize the small and large intestine. In very rare cases (approximately 5% of all salmonella infections), the salmonella can actually spread to the blood, potentially damaging any organ within the body. A salmonella infection can manifest as a mild stomach flu to an infection with life-threatening complications. For this reason, it is important to be familiar with salmonella food poisoning symptoms and how to treat this condition.
Conditions Caused by Salmonella Infections
Salmonella has three clinical forms:
- Gastroenteritis – When the salmonella infection primarily affects your digestive tract, it is termed gastroenteritis (also known as the stomach flu).
- Enteric Fevers – This type of salmonella infection is very severe and requires prompt treatment with antibiotics. Enteric fevers may accompany gastroenteritis, or may occur after. The most common and most studied form of enteric fever is known as typhoid fever.
- Septicemia – When the bacteria spreads to the blood, it is termed septicemia. The spread of salmonella to the blood is very rare. This is due to the fact that most of the patients who are affected with septicemia include infants, young children, the elderly, and patients who have compromised immunity.
The Incubation Period of Salmonella Infections
Salmonella food poisoning symptoms may take a few hours to around 2 days before they manifest. This period of time is known as an incubation period, which is the time it takes for the bacteria to cause symptoms related to the illness.
Salmonella infections causing enteric fever may take up to three weeks before they develop.