Salmonella are motile enterobacteria. This group of bacteria thrives on energy derived from oxidation. The genus is known to produce hydrogen sulfide and infects warm and cold-blooded animals. The bacteria are the causes of illnesses such as typhoid, paratyphoid, and salmonellosis.
Salmonella bacteria cause zoonotic infection. This is indicative of the human to animal to human transfer that results in an epidemic of the infection. This genus of bacteria is also transmitted via food and water. Enteritis Salmonella causes diarrhea and suppresses immunity. The infections result in fatality, if not diagnosed and treated in time.
These bacteria have the ability to survive for weeks in a non-living habitat. The bacteria perish at a temperature above 55°C and hence, when treating these infections, food and water need to be heated well prior to consumption. The bacteria are named after Veterinary Pathologist, Dr. Daniel Elmer Salmon, who first discovered the bacteria in 1885.
Typhoid fever or enteric fever is caused when the salmonella enterica serovar typhi bacterium is transmitted via ingestion of contaminated food or water. The bacteria perforate the intestine and alters the structure to reduce immune response.
Fever as high as 104°F, non-bloody diarrhea, excessive sweating, dehydration, rash, headache, cough, delirium, and enlarged spleen and liver are the common signs of a typhoid infection.
Diagnosis of typhoid is done via Widal blood test and bone marrow tests.
The prevention of this infection is addressed through the typhoid vaccination. Antibiotics like, Amoxicillin, Ciprofloxacin and Chloramphenicol are used to treat the fever.
Paratyphoid is caused by salmonella paratyphi strains. This infection too, is caused via consumption of contaminated food and water. However, the difference is mainly because, this type of typhoid is more benign. The strains of salmonella penetrate the mucosa tissue and multiply while spreading through the bloodstream.
Paratyphoid manifests in the form of a sustained fever. The rise in body temperature is accompanied by a severe headache, anorexia nervosa, severe pain in the abdomen, cough, and hepatosplenomegaly.
Paratyphoid is diagnosed through blood, stool, and urine tests.
Antibiotics like Azithromycin, Ciprofloxacin and Ceftriaxone are effective in containing and destroying the bacteria.
Salmonellosis is spread due to impaired immunity caused by salmonella bacteria. The bacteria invade the intestines and other body organs via blood stream.
The infection is characterized by fever, diarrhea, nausea, and severe cramps in the abdomen. On account of diarrhea, there is severe dehydration experienced by the patient.
Like in the case of other infections caused by salmonella bacteria, salmonellosis too, is confirmed through blood, urine, and stool tests.
Vaccination and antibiotics are used to increase the immunity and contain the bacteria. Intravenous fluids and medication to relieve symptoms are a part of the treatment program.
To prevent the onslaught of the bacteria, personal hygiene plays a very important role. Though the symptoms may come across as not-so-severe, the fact is that, rapid deterioration of the immune system sets in with the slightest delay in the diagnosis or treatment. The following preventive measures are prescribed to keep salmonella infection at bay:
- Use of a medicated hand-wash prior to cooking or eating.
- Routine cleansing and drying of hands after sexual contact and defecating.
- Inoculation with the Typhoid vaccine.
- Preference of home-cooked food over unclean and exposed foodstuffs outside.
- Drainage of stagnant water from water dispensers and hoses.
It is very important to research and get educated on the characteristics of the bacteria and the threat they pose to life-expectancy.