As I am also now a public health expert (no, seriously I am an epidemiologist), here are some things to think about with salmonella and how to protect yourself.
Yes the language is not the typical manner in which I’m supposed to say it, but it makes sense to sensible people –
Salmonella has many different subtypes. I’ve personally studied serotype enteritidis. Anyways, it’s passed by what’s called the fecal-oral route. Yep, somebody’s poopie made it’s way to your mouth. Gross huh? In cases like with the tomatoes, it means that the chance that cattle or other animals were kept too close to the food stuff is pretty high. When you have chickens or other animals that lay eggs, if they have salmonella it comes out in the egg (which is why you should cook the egg thoroughly) and is also in the meat (which is why you cook the meat thoroughly, aka not bloody or even tinged pink). Salmonella lives in a LOT of places including your digestive tract (right next to the E coli). It’s when you get too much or a type that your body isn’t used to that you can get sick. Sooooo….
To try and prevent getting sick –
- Wash your hands when you are cooking (with soap, rinsing doesn’t have same effect)
- Don’t use the same utensils for meat and other foods you’re cooking
- Clean the counter with disinfectant after meat has been placed on it
- Clean anything that raw meat touches with soap and water (if food that will go uncooked touches it, toss it in the garbage)
- Cook food thoroughly
- If you go play with pets or to a farm or mess with other animals, wash your hands throroughly with soap and water after touching the animals. Do NOT touch your face at all before doing so. Thoroughly means sing Happy Birthday to yourself or the ABCs. That’s long enough. Sometimes I sing it twice.
To get better if you get sick –
You’ll probably have diarrhea and crazy cramps. Drink a TON of fluids. You might have bloody diarrhea. See a doctor.
If you want to be WAY COOL (i.e. give me something to do) go to the hospital and see someone. Let them get what’s called a stool culture (you poopie, lab people play and tell me whether it’s Salmonella) and treat you. If you heard about all the cases of salmonella, all those went to the doctor. Way more than that had milder cases and never went. The numbers reported are confirmed cases which means they go into my surveillance system (and then I get to ask you a few questions and try to figure out how you got sick so we can keep others from getting sick). No worries, it goes in with an identifying number, not your name so we won’t call you up a month later or anything.
Get rest and drink way more fluids than you thought you could ever drink
The infection will last for about 5-7 days and usually can be ridden out without any meds, but if you feel worse at any point, go immediately to the emergency room, do not pass go, do not collect $200. People do die from Salmonella infections, so don’t play any games.
Take care and good eating!
photo credit: Nutloaf