Incubation period refers to the time lapsed from the entry of pathogen in the body of host to the occurrence of first symptom. Let us know what is salmonella incubation period, in this article.
Salmonella infection is caused by a bacterium named Salmonella enterica. There are over 2000 different serotypes of salmonella. The serotype that causes infections in humans mostly belong to Salmonella enterica and Salmonella typhimurium. These bacteria reside in the gut of animals, birds and even humans.
Salmonella infection manifests into three types of medical conditions, typhoid fever, bacteremia and Reiter’s syndrome. All these conditions exhibit different and quite unrelated symptoms. Incidentally, the symptoms of this infection surface anytime after the incubation period of salmonella ends. Let us see what is the incubation time for salmonella infection. But before that, it would be interesting to know what are the different modes of transmission of this infection.
How is Salmonella Transmitted
Salmonella is a particularly resilient species of bacteria. They can thrive in extremely adverse environmental condition. They can easily survive in the temperature range of 8° C to 45° C. In addition, they can also thrive in the pH levels between 4 to 8 or even more. Being anaerobic bacteria, they can sustain in low oxygen levels. The only environmental factor that can be detrimental to their life is sunlight and ultraviolet radiation from sunrays.
Salmonella generally grow in shady, moist places. Manure, slurry pits, stagnant water are some of the favorite habitats of salmonella. As salmonella is present in the intestines of animals, it can also seek entry into the outer world through animal feces. This is an entry way to infection in healthy individuals.
Most infections are a result of direct transmission, in which a host directly ingests salmonella. Infection can occur when you eat food that is contaminated with salmonella or come in contact with manure and then eat with same dirty hands. Fecal transmission is also one of the most common mode of transmission of salmonella. Indirect transmission can occur when a host comes in contact with fomite (inanimate object such as towel, utensils that can transmit salmonella).
Salmonella Incubation Period
After entering the host body, salmonella stays dormant for a few hours. This is called incubation period, wherein there are no symptoms of infection. Gastrointestinal symptoms surface within 8 to 48 hours of ingestion of salmonella. These include nausea, vomiting, watery stools, diarrhea, colic, etc. Thereafter, other salmonella symptoms such as moderate fever, chills may surface. Other symptoms of salmonella infection include muscle pain (myalgia), joint pain (arthritis). Thus, incubation period of salmonella may be anywhere between 8 hours to 72 hours. Symptoms such as fever, muscle pain and joint pain may surface within 5 days of exposure to salmonella infection.
Incubation period of salmonella infection is greatly dependent upon the person’s health and fitness. People with fragile health, weakened immune system are likely to have shorter incubation period with aggravated symptoms. Children and elderly people have more susceptibility to this kind of infections. Similarly, people with existing gastrointestinal problems are also prone to catching infections more easily.
Treatment and Prophylaxis
Although an antibiotic course can be prescribed for salmonella poisoning, many serotypes show an antimicrobial resistance property, which makes the consumption of antibiotics useless. Further, these serotypes are capable of producing aggravated symptoms with prolonged illness. Hence, prophylaxis is the only way of protecting your family from the dangers of salmonella.
Here are some preventive measures you can adopt.
- Completely cook foods such as eggs, ground beef, poultry, etc.
- Avoid foods with raw or undercooked eggs.
- Wash your hands thoroughly prior to eating.
- Keep cooking surfaces, utensils clean.
- While eating at a restaurant, make sure that your meat is cooked properly.
Salmonella infection can progress to deadly stages of sepsis, meningitis and other debilitating medical conditions, if not treated on time. To avoid the risk of infection do take all the prophylactic measures mentioned above.