An estimated 40,000 cases of salmonella infection are reported each year in the United States, but those are only the reported cases, Mody said. "Those are only the cases that are severe enough to have a person go to a doctor. It's been estimated that the actual number of total salmonella cases could be 30 times or more as great," he said.
Mody said there probably have been many unreported cases in the current outbreak. "If someone has mild symptoms, they might not seek health care," he said.
Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours after contact with the germ. Infections typically clear up in five to seven days, Mody said. "They often don't require any treatment other than making sure you take enough fluids," he said.
But, severe infections can occur, particularly in infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. In severe cases, the salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and other parts of the body, causing death unless antibiotics are administered, according to the CDC.
A salmonella outbreak that began last April eventually sickened almost 1,400 Americans, sending nearly 300 of them to hospitals. The outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul was later traced to jalapeno and serrano peppers imported from Mexico.
To learn more about salmonella, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCE: Rajal Mody, M.D., M.P.H., Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta
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