Salmonellosis is a very common foodborne infection. By following certain hygiene rules, in particular during the preparation, cooking and storage of foodstuffs, salmonellosis can be prevented.

What is salmonellosis?

Salmonellosis is a very common foodborne infection caused by the bacteria that belong to the genus Salmonella.

Salmonella bacteria mainly infect the digestive tract in humans and cause gastroenteritis.

Salmonellosis is transmitted to humans by the oral route, principally by ingesting foods from contaminated animals which are consumed raw or undercooked.

Salmonellosis is a minor illness that can clear up without treatment. You must nonetheless ensure you stay well-hydrated.

Certain people who are more fragile or weak run the risk of having severe complications such as septicaemia or meningitis.

These infections arise more frequently in summer, during the party and barbecue season when foods are kept at ambient temperature for a long time.

DID YOU KNOW? Foodborne diseases (FBD) is the term for what is commonly called “food-poisoning”. In reality there are two types of foodborne diseases: foodborne infections that are caused by the ingestion of pathogenic germs (bacteria, viruses, etc.) and foodborne infections caused by the ingestion of a bacterial toxin that is already present in food.

Salmonellosis and typhoid fever

There are nearly 2,500 types of Salmonella bacteria. Salmonellosis is a generic term that encompasses any complaint caused by bacteria of the genus Salmonella:

  • foodborne salmonellosis caused principally by the bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Enteridis
  • typhoid fever and paratyphoids caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi, Salmonella Paratyphi A, B and C.

This leaflet is dedicated to foodborne “salmonellosis”.

Typhoid fever and paratyphoids:

  • are very rare diseases in Europe
  • humans are the only species to harbour these types of Salmonella (Typhi, Paratyphi A, etc.)
  • generally come from bacteria that are present in unsanitary running water
  • are more prevalent in less economically developed countries
  • in Europe, cases are generally imported following a stay in an endemic zone (developing country)
  • can be fatal if not treated with antibiotics (10% result in death).

Sciensano helps to diagnose cases of salmonellosis, identifies the sources of contamination, checks products, monitors the evolution of salmonellosis in Belgium and studies Salmonella bacteria's susceptibility to antibiotics.

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