The mere mention of Salmonella on the news is enough to turn heads. People immediately want to know what restaurant or what brand of food has been contaminated. There is no shortage of information about salmonellosis, yet year after year there are reports of outbreaks.
Perhaps the first important bit of information is that there is no vaccine for salmonellosis. Next is that if a case of Salmonella is not treated properly, a person can become very sick or even die.
But there is good news…There are several common-sense precautions and actions people can take to protect themselves and their families from Salmonella poisoning.
The following is a list of suggestions provided by the CDC:
- Cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs thoroughly. Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs or unpasteurized milk.
- When dining out, send undercooked meat, poultry, or eggs back for additional cooking.
- Wash hands, surfaces and utensils with soap and water after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
- Exercise extra caution with foods prepared for infants, the elderly, and the otherwise immunocompromised.
- Wash hands with soap and water after handling reptiles, birds, or baby chicks, and after contact with pet feces. (Also, avoid contact between infants and the immunocompromised and reptiles.)
- Don’t work with raw meats and poultry at the same time as handling an infant.
- Mother’s milk is the safest food for young infants as it protects babies from salmonellosis and other health problems.
Incidences of salmonellosis have been decreased over the past 40 years by advances in science and general knowledge. The pasteurization of milk and the treatment of municipal water supplies are known to be highly affective prevention measures.
Another example is the ban on selling small turtles in the United States, which was enacted in response to outbreaks that pet turtles caused in the 1970s.
Food handling from farm to table have improved greatly over the time period, and future advances in fields such as irradiation should increase protection against Salmonella poisoning.