Dear Dr. Manny,
My son keeps eating raw cookie dough, even though I warn him about the egg in it. I worry he’ll get salmonella. What are the symptoms of salmonella? How can you tell if something is contaminated with it already?
Thanks for your question.
Salmonella is a bacteria that causes an infection with several different symptoms. Most people who catch salmonella get sick to their stomach and have diarrhea.
It is quite common. Millions of cases around the world are reported yearly. Some cases become fatal without treatment.
The most common symptoms include severe cramps, bloody stool, diarrhea, chills, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. Most of these symptoms don’t last longer than a week, however, sometimes your bowel movements don’t return to normal for a few weeks.
Some people get pain in their joints. They also get itching and soreness. These symptoms last for months at a time.
Dehydration is another problem that comes with this infection. And finally, the most severe cases of salmonella come with infection of the brain, spinal cord, lining of the heart, heart valves, bones and bone marrow, or the lining of blood vessels.
If your symptoms persist beyond a week, it’s time to call a doctor.
Salmonella lurks in chicken, eggs, fruit, vegetables, cheese, nuts, and milk. Most of these items are cleaned and pasteurized, Cook everything thoroughly. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Don’t leave your food out for more than two hours. Make sure you cook your meat properly: 145 degrees F for whole meats, 160 degrees for ground meat, and 165 degrees for poultry.
Unfortunately, you can’t tell before eating whether something has salmonella. But usually, the infection develops over a few hours, resulting in swift assurance that you have caught it.
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