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Salmonellosis is caused by Salmonella bacteria These bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds. Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal, and are of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs. However, all foods, including vegetables, may become contaminated. While many raw foods of animal origin are frequently contaminated, thorough cooking kills Salmonella. Food may also become contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler who did not properly wash their hands after using the bathroom. Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea, and people can become infected if they do not wash their hands after contact with these feces. Reptiles are particularly likely to carry Salmonella. Symptoms usually occur within 12 to 72 hours after becoming infected and include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some people the diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized. In these people, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other areas in the body and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.


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