Public Health Fact Sheet

What is Salmonella?
Salmonella is a bacterial that make people ill. The illness is called Salmonellosis and usually includes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.

How is Salmonella spread?
There are multiple ways to get infected with Salmonella.  Most types of Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals and birds and are passed to humans by contaminated foods, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs.  Salmonella bacteria is also shed in the feces of infected individuals and can spread to others via contaminated hands to food during preparation. Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets and people can become infected if they do not wash their hands after contact.

How long after exposure until symptoms begin and how long is a person contagious?
Symptoms usually begin 12-72 hours after exposure.  The illness usually last 4-7 days.  An infected person is contagious to others while they are actively ill until 2-3 days after their symptoms have resolved.

How is Salmonella treated?
Salmonellosis usually resolves on its own.  Medication is usually not needed, but is given in certain situations.   If you are a food-handler, or work at or attend a day care, you may need to be excluded until symptoms are gone and a stool culture is normal.

How is Salmonella infection prevented?
Wash your hands after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, before eating, before and after making food, and after playing with animals.  Practice safe food handling and preparation.  Do not eat raw eggs or unpasteurized milk.  Throw away cracked eggs.  Cook meat well before eating it. Clean cutting boards, countertops, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw or cooked meat, poultry or eggs.

Additional information is available on the CDC website at
Symptoms of Salmonella 

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

February 2020