Many of the multistate foodborne illness outbreaks in the last few years have been connected with one group of bacteria known as Salmonella. These bacteria cause illness in one of two ways. One subgroup causes what is commonly referred to as typhoid fever. The other subgroup causes gastrointestinal illnesses.

The period from ingesting the bacteria to feeling ill is called the “incubation period”. The incubation period for typhoid is often from one to three weeks but can be as long as two months after the person is exposed. The common symptoms of typhoid include a fever as high as 103°F. to 104°F., fatigue and gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal pains and diarrhea or constipation. The symptoms of typhoid generally last from two to four weeks after onset. Nontyphoidal Salmonellosis usually has an incubation period of six to seventy-two hours. Nontyphoidal Salmonellosis symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, fever and headaches. Nontyphoidal Salmonellosis symptoms may last from four to seven days with the most severe symptoms lasting from one to two days. Complications for both illnesses can include dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. The most severe complications can include a blood infection, joint pain and in cases of typhoid when the gallbladder becomes infected the person can become a carrier. A carrier can shed the bacteria without having symptoms of the illness.

Common sources of Salmonella infections are poultry, reptiles, wildlife, pets, contaminated food, water, and humans. A major source of typhoid is often contaminated water supplies in disaster situations. Recent outbreaks of Salmonellosis have been traced to live chicks, small turtles, peanut butter and cantaloupe. Whole shell eggs have also become a concern because infected hens can produce eggs with the bacteria inside them. When raw eggs are used in recipes the bacteria is consumed and cause illness.

Tips for preventing the spread of this illness can be found on our tips page. To reduce the potential spread of Salmonella additional control measures may be required for persons associated with high-risk activities or settings such as food handlers, childcare facility personnel, and health care workers. Specific guidance and recommendations can be found in a manual titled Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases. Additional guidance for retail food establishment management can be found in Chapter 2 of the food code.

For additional information on Salmonella, please visit the following references: Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention website and FDA’s Bad Bug Book. For data on reported Salmonellosis cases in Missouri, visit the communicable disease data and statistical reports page for the annual reports listed there.