Salmonella infection is an illness that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. “Salmonella” is a kind of bacteria. People most often get the infection from eating or touching foods that contain the bacteria. This is often chicken or eggs, or dairy products. You can also get the infection from touching certain animals, such as chickens, ducks, and turtles.
Symptoms usually come on within a few days of eating food (or touching an animal) that has the bacteria. The symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fever – This usually lasts 2 or 3 days.
- Diarrhoea that can be watery or bloody – This usually lasts 4 to 10 days. If you have diarrhoea for more than 10 days, a different condition could be causing your symptoms.
- Belly pain or cramping
Symptoms might be more or less severe depending on how much of the bacteria you got in your system. For example, a person who ate a lot of food with the bacteria will probably have worse symptoms, and be sick for longer, than a person who only ate a little bit.
See your gastroenterologist if you:
- Have severe belly pain
- Cannot eat or drink
- Vomit blood or have blood in your bowel movements
- Have a fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C) for more than 2 or 3 days
Yes, but not everyone needs to be tested. If your symptoms are not severe, you probably won’t need a test. But if you have a high risk of getting very sick from Salmonella infection, your gastroenterologist might do a test even if you do not have severe symptoms. People at high risk include those with a weak immune system, babies under 1 year old, and adults older than 50.
If your gastroenterologist decides to do a test, this involves taking a sample of your bowel movement to check for Salmonella bacteria. But it can take 2 or 3 days to get the test results. If you have a high risk of getting very sick from Salmonella infection, your gastroenterologist might not wait for your test results before starting treatment.
It usually goes away on its own, so most people do not need treatment. But if you get very sick, you might be treated in the hospital. gastroenterologists can give antibiotics through a thin tube that goes into a vein, called an “IV.”
If you have a high risk of getting very sick from Salmonella infection, your gastroenterologist might prescribe antibiotic pills.
If your immune system is normal, you probably only need to take antibiotics for a few days. But, if you have a weak immune system or have complications from the infection, you might need them for up to 2 weeks or longer. The antibiotics help get rid of the infection and keep it from coming back.