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Salmonella Symptoms

Symptoms of Childhood Illnesses


Updated June 10, 2014

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been many large outbreaks of Salmonella infections in the United States in the last few years, including:

  • a multistate outbreak that has gotten at least 100 people sick since January in 19 states and which may be linked to eating sushi, sashimi, or similar foods (2012)
  • a multistate outbreak that has gotten at least 92 people sick since February and which has been linked to chicks and ducklings (2011)
  • 111 cases of Salmonella in 26 states that is likely linked to frozen or fresh ground turkey products (2011)
  • 99 cases of Salmonella in 23 states that may be linked to papayas imported from Mexico (2011)
  • a large outbreak linked to an egg recall that caused at least 1,939 people to get sick (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)

Although foods that are are found to be contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria are often recalled and pulled from grocery stores, by that time many people have already eaten them.

That makes it important to learn to recognize the symptoms of Salmonella infections, especially since your child may become sick before any link to a contaminated food is even found.

Recognizing Salmonella symptoms is also important so that you don't overreact every time your child has diarrhea and you worry that it might be Salmonella, when it is more likely to be a simple viral infection.

Salmonella Symptoms

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, which is called salmonellosis, typically start 6 to 72 hours after you are exposed and can include:

  • watery diarrhea (sometimes bloody diarrhea with mucus)
  • fever
  • cramping abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chills
  • headache

These symptoms usually last about four to seven days and often go away without treatment.

Some children, especially younger infants and toddlers, or those with a compromised immune system, may develop more severe, life-threatening symptoms though and may need to be hospitalized.

Diagnosis of Salmonella Infections

Children who have Salmonella symptoms and have been exposed to a source of Salmonella bacteria, either from contaminated food, pet turtles and other reptiles, or farm animals should see their pediatrician. Testing will likely include a stool culture, in which the Salmonella bacteria may be found.


CDC. Salmonella Outbreak Investigations.

Long: Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 2nd ed.

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