Salmonella - Clear and Present Danger to Humans, Especially Infants and the Elderly
About 142 000 Americans are infected annually with a variety of Salmonella bacteria emanating from chicken eggs, and of this number, about 30 die. It is suspected, in these cases, the shell of the chicken egg may be contaminated by an infected hen. In addition to the occurrence in eggs, it can also be generally traced back to a variety of foods, particularly meat.
Potential Sources of infection
- Unclean food, particularly in restaurants and institutional kitchens, such as homes for the elderly and children.
- Excretions from infected, but apparently healthy people and animals.
- Raw Chicken thawed in polluted water.
- Contact with pet tortoises and snakes.
- Standing pools of water, such as in shower rooms and water dispensers.
The salmonella bacteria can thrive for several months in water, especially where this has been polluted with excrement. The agents of this pollution danger can often be traced back to birds, reptiles, poultry, cattle and sheep.
The Danger to Humans
The organism enters via the human digestive tract, and must be ingested in large numbers to cause disease in a normally healthy adult. Ironically, in this case, the human gastric juices play a protective role, as a sort of gatekeeper, by destroying most of the invading bacteria. However, it must be stressed that infants and young children are much more susceptible to infection by the invading bacteria. Moreover, the scenario around infants is compounded by the possibility that they can be contaminated by salmonella bacteria-laden dust.
In the human system, after a short incubation period, which can vary from a few hours to one day, the germ is known to multiply and cause inflammation of the intestine, which exhibits in the feces as being bloody, and containing pus.
The danger to infants is dehydration and poisoning. Complications can occur with weakened elderly patients. Medical advice and intervention should always be sought if there is ANY doubt whatsoever. Salmonella bacteria can survive for weeks outside a living body, in excrement for a number of years, and is not destroyed by freezing (e.g. in a refrigerator freezing compartment).
Authorities recommend that, to protect against Salmonella infections in general, all food should be heated for at least 10 minutes at 75 Degrees Centigrade (167 degrees Fahrenheit) and to ensure that the center of the food item reaches this temperature.
The Symptoms of a Salmonella Infection
Salmonella bacteria principally cause three broad categories of illness, such as typhoid fever, gastro-enteritis and meningitis. The symptoms can include abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, muscle and joint pains. If not treated, the onward progression of a Salmonella infection can cause complications, and this strictly becomes the territory of medical professionals whose advice should always be sought, especially if there is any doubt.
The Prevention of a Salmonella Bacteria Infection.
- Do not eat raw eggs in any form, but notably those in an eggnog (A punch made of sweetened milk or cream mixed with eggs and usually alcoholic liquor), hollandaise sauce (Eggs and butter with lemon juice) and half-cooked eggs in the form of French Toast (Bread slice dipped in egg and milk and fried; topped with sugar, fruit or syrup)
- Do not drink unpasteurized milk
- In a restaurant, if you are served undercooked eggs, chicken or meat, you should immediately demand that they be returned to the kitchen and properly cooked.
- At home, if they are available, especially with infants and the elderly, your should try to use pasteurized eggs. In any event, ALL eggs, poultry and ground (minced) beef MUST be thoroughly cooked.
- Be especially careful with foods prepared for babies and the elderly.
- ALWAYS wash your hands, with a good brand of soap, after handling reptiles, birds, frogs, tadpoles and pet feces. (that is why the "poop scoop" was invented)
Finally, Salmonella, the word, is not derived from the name of the Salmon fish but rather from the pathologist Daniel Salmon.