Salmonella is a type of bacteria that are best known for causing food poisoning, being associated with several well-publicized outbreaks in recent years.
Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Enteritidis are the most common subtypes of Salmonella that get people sick in the United States. These nontyphoidal salmonella strains usually cause classic salmonellosis, a gastrointestinal infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been many large outbreaks of Salmonella infections in the United States from 2007 to 2013, including:
- at least 73 people, including 14 hospitalizations, from 18 states linked to exposure to imported cucumbers. (2013)
- at least 371 people, including 62 hospitalizations, from 41 states linked to exposure to turtles or turtle habitats. (2013)
- at least 128 people in 13 states, including 32 people who required hospitalization, who likely got sick from eating chicken. (2013)
- at least 22 people in 6 states, including 7 people who required hospitalization, who likely got sick from eating ground beef produced by Jouni Meats, Inc. and Gab Halal Foods, which has since been recalled. (2013)
- at least 42 people in 20 states, including 10 people who required hospitalization, who likely got sick from eating Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt, which has since been recalled. (2012)
- at least 14 people in 6 states are sick with Salmonella linked to contact with hedgehogs. (2012)
- at least 105 people in 16 states, including 25 who have required hospitalization, are sick with Salmonella that is likely linked to Daniella brand mangoes distributed by Splendid Products. (2012)
- at least 204 people in 22 states, including 11 who have required hospitalization, are sick with Salmonella that is linked to Chamberlain Farms cantaloupes. (2012)
- at least 40 people in 8 states, including 78 who have required hospitalization and 2 deaths, are sick with Salmonella that is likely linked to ground beef produced by Cargill Meat Solutions. (2012)
- at least 14 people who have gotten sick in 9 states and which may be linked to handling multiple brands of dry pet food produced by Diamond Pet Foods. (2012)
- at least 258 people who have gotten sick in 24 states and which is linked to eating now recalled raw yellowfin tuna. (2012)
- at least 19 people who have gotten sick in 7 states and which has been linked to ground beef purchased from Hannaford stores. (2012)
- a multistate outbreak that has gotten at least 68 people sick in 20 states and which has been linked to chicks and ducklings (2011)
- 136 cases of Salmonella in 34 states that has been linked to frozen or fresh ground turkey products from Cargill (2011)
- 106 cases of Salmonella in 25 states that were linked to papayas imported from Mexico (2011)
- an outbreak linked to Evergreen Produce Alfalfa Sprouts and Spicy Sprouts that has gotten at least 21 people sick in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, and Washington (2011).
- an outbreak linked to eating Tiny Greens Alfalfa Sprouts or Spicy Sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurant outlets that sickened 140 people in 26 states (2010-11)
- a large outbreak linked to an egg recall that caused at least 1,939 people to get sick (2010)
- an outbreak that sickened at least 44 people in 18 states and was linked to Marie Callender's Cheesy Chicken & Rice single-serve frozen entrées, which were recalled in June (2010)
- 714 people from 49 states in an ongoing Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter, peanut paste, and Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers (2009)
- 1,442 people from 43 states who became infected in an outbreak that was thought to be initially linked to certain types of raw tomatoes, but is now thought to be associated with eating raw jalapeño and raw serrano peppers (2008)
- 425 people from 44 states who became infected with Salmonella after eating contaminated Great Value and Peter Pan peanut butter
- 65 people, mostly infants and toddlers, from 20 states who became infected with Salmonella after eating Veggie Booty snacks (2007)
- 62 people from 18 states who became infected with Salmonella because of an association with contaminated pet food (perhaps handling the pet food or contact with a pet who became sick) (2007)
- 272 people in 35 states who became infected with Salmonella after eating contaminated ConAgra Foods pot pies (2007)
In addition to these contaminated foods, many exposures to Salmonella are from contaminated animal products, including raw or undercooked poultry, eggs and meat and unpasteurized, raw milk.
Other sources of Salmonella can include:
- contaminated produce
- contact with contaminated animals, like at a farm or petting zoo
- contact with pets that commonly have Salmonella, especially reptiles (turtles, iguanas, other lizards, snakes, etc.) and amphibians (frogs, toads, newts and salamanders, etc.)
To prevent Salmonella infections and avoid Salmonella, it can help to:
- be aware of food recalls and get rid of foods that have been recalled because of Salmonella contamination
- cook foods thoroughly, especially poultry, ground beef and eggs
- don't let your kids drink unpasteurized, raw milk
- teach your kids good hand washing techniques and to wash their hands well after touching their pets, especially live poultry, or visiting a farm or petting zoo
- don't have reptiles or amphibians as pets if you have young children in your home and have older kids with these pets wash their hands well after touching them
- wash your hands and all cooking surfaces well with soap and water after handling raw poultry or meat
Trying to prevent Salmonella infections is especially important as a CDC Vital Signs report states that that "Salmonella infections have not decreased during the past 15 years and have instead increased by 10 percent in recent years." New rules enacted with the Food Safety Modernization Act will hopefully begin to cut down on Salmonella infections and continue the decline in other causes of food poisoning. It gives the FDA "much needed authority to regulate food facilities, establish standards for safe produce, recall contaminated foods, and oversee imported foods."
CDC Salmonella Outbreak Investigations. Accessed September 2012.
Kliegman: Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 18th ed.
Long: Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 3rd ed.