What Does Salmonella Do to the Human Body?

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When salmonella infects the body, it usually affects the intestines and causes fever, vomiting and other symptoms, says KidsHealth. These symptoms often resolve without medical treatment.

KidsHealth explains that salmonella is a bacteria that causes foodborne illness. The infection is usually transmitted to humans from salmonella bacteria on kitchen surfaces, eggs, raw meats, animal feces, soil and water. The most common type of salmonella that infects humans is known as nontyphoidal salmonella, which is carried by cows, chickens and reptiles. The signs and symptoms of a salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, fever, headache and diarrhea. Most of these symptoms generally become apparent within three days of contamination and go away without treatment. However, when salmonella bacteria causes typhoid fever, the liver and spleen become enlarged in the second week, and a distinctive skin rash appears. In this case, it is possible for the infection to lead to other health problems, such as pneumonia and meningitis.

Not everyone who ingests salmonella bacteria becomes ill, notes KidsHealth. Children, particularly infants, often get the infection. Salmonella causes more serious complications in people with compromised immune systems, those who are taking cancer-fighting drugs or medication for chronic stomach acid suppression, and those who have sickle cell disease. Treatment for these higher-risk groups involves antibiotics to prevent salmonella from spreading to other body parts.