University of Florida

Salmonella Infections

Written October 2006; updated August 2010, August 2011.

What Is Salmonella?

Salmonella bacteria can be found in many different places and in a variety of animal species. Salmonella can most frequently be found in foods such as raw meats, particularly poultry. It can also be transferred to soil, water, and kitchen surfaces through contamination.

Symptoms of Salmonella Infection

Salmonella infection causes cramps, diarrhea, fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually develop within three days of eating contaminated food.

Most people experience full recovery within one week and do not need treatment, but some people--particularly children and the elderly--may take longer to recover. Though infections are usually mild, at-risk individuals may need to be hospitalized for dehydration.

In serious cases Salmonella can spread into the blood stream and other parts of the body. If not treated with antibiotics, these cases can related in death.

A small number of people infected with Salmonella may develop reactive arthritis--a chronic long-term illness. Arthritic symptoms can begin three to four weeks after the Salmonella symptoms. Antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in developing reactive arthritis.

Preventing Infection

Keep It Clean

Good personal hygiene is the most important part of preventing foodborne illness. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before preparing food, and wash frequently while cooking, especially if you are working with raw meat.

Fresh vegetables and fruits should be washed thoroughly before being eaten or cooked. Wash your hands between touching raw meat and other foods.

Keep Foods Separated

Use separate cutting boards and utensils for uncooked products. Keep raw meat separated from produce, cooked food, and other food products. Wash your hands, utensils and other kitchen tools, and counters before and after working with uncooked food.

Cook Food Thoroughly

Make sure that meat and foods containing meat are cooked thoroughly before you eat them.

The general rule of thumb is to cook foods and meats to 165° F. For specific times for individual foods, read the government guidelines on safe minimum cooking temperatures.

Store Food Properly

Proper food storage helps prevent foodborne illness. Cooked food should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours before being refrigerated again. If you are not sure how long the food has been sitting out, throw it away.

Use the following tips to make sure that frozen food is stored and thawed safely.

  • Keep frozen foods in the freezer until you are ready to cook them.
  • Frozen food should be thawed in the refrigerator or under cold running water. Do not let meat thaw on the kitchen counter.

Recent Outbreaks

For information on current and recent Salmonella outbreaks, please visit CDC Outbreak Investigations.

As of August 2011, there is a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg most likely caused by ground turkey. Salmonella Heidelberg is resistant to common antibiotics, which can increase the risk of hospitalization and treatment failures. No cases have been reported in Florida as of yet.

Cook all ground poultry to a minimum temperature of 165° F to prevent infection.

Adapted and excerpted from:

K. Schneider, Preventing Foodborne Illness: Salmonellosis (FSHN 0214), Food Science and Human Nutrition Department (rev. 09/2009).

"Salmonellosis Outbreak in Certain Types of Tomatoes," U.S. Food and Drug Administration (06/2008).

raw meat

Salmonella Outbreaks

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