What Is Salmonella?

Published: Thursday, October 25, 2001 @ 11:55 AM
Updated: Monday, October 06, 2008 @ 10:25 AM

Q: What is salmonella or salmonellosis?

A: Salmonellosis is an infection with a bacteria called salmonella. Most persons infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites 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.

Q.: What sort of germ is salmonella?

A: The salmonella germ is actually a group of bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in humans. They are microscopic living creatures that pass from the feces of people or animals, to other people or other animals. There are many different kinds of salmonella bacteria. salmonella serotype Typhimurium and salmonella serotype Enteritidis are the most common in the United States. salmonella has been known to cause illness for over 100 years.

Q: Why is it named salmonella?

A: The bacterium were discovered by a American scientist named Salmon, for whom they are named.

Q: How can salmonella infections be diagnosed?

A: Many different kinds of illnesses can cause diarrhea, fever, or abdominal cramps. Determining that salmonella is the cause of the illness depends on laboratory tests that identify salmonella in the stools of an infected person. These tests are sometimes not performed unless the laboratory is instructed specifically to look for the organism. Once salmonella has been identified, further testing can determine its specific type, and which antibiotics could be used to treat it.

Q: How can salmonella infections be treated?

A: salmonella infections usually resolve in 5-7 days and often do not require treatment unless the patient becomes severely dehydrated or the infection spreads from the intestines. Antibiotics are not usually necessary unless the infection spreads from the intestines, then it can be treated with ampicillin, gentamicin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, or ciprofloxacin. Unfortunately, some salmonella bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, largely as a result of the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.

Q: Are there long term consequences to a salmonella infection?

A: Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. A small number of persons who are infected with salmonella, will go on to develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. This is called Reiter's syndrome. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis which is difficult to treat. Antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in whether or not the person later develops arthritis.

Q: What can a person do to prevent this illness?

A: There is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis.

Sources: Staff reports and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Man's strep throat takes rare turn, leads to quadruple amputation

Published: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 @ 5:33 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 @ 5:33 PM

            Martin Barraud/Getty Images
(Martin Barraud/Getty Images)

A Michigan man is lucky to be alive after he contracted a rare case of strep throat, but he still is facing a life-changing recovery.

Kevin Breen began experiencing symptoms around Christmas. Severe abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms were initially diagnosed as mild pancreatitis, but Breen was not responding to treatment. Doctors, concerned by his rapidly deteriorating condition, performed exploratory surgery and discovered over a liter of pus in his stomach, which tested positive for streptococcal infection. According to a WOOD-TV report, Breen's young son had contracted strep throat around the same time Breen fell ill.

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Doctors told the family that Breen is the second documented male in the world to have strep throat travel from his throat to his stomach, according to the Team Breen GoFundMe campaign page. (Note: images of Breen's condition are graphic, viewer discretion advised.)

The rare case almost cost Breen his life. He went into septic shock, and in order to keep his vital organs alive, doctors gave Breen medication to raise his blood pressure, but the medication caused blood to his extremities to decrease to the point where necrosis occurred. Breen is now facing a quadruple amputation: complete amputation of his left hand, amputation of multiple fingers on the right hand and partial amputation of both his feet.

Breen's family says that while his spirits remain high, the family is facing steep health care bills and financial instability, because Breen was the primary breadwinner. The family is seeking to raise $50,000 to help pay for expenses while Breen goes through rehabilitation.

Has your doctor been up for 24 hours? Rule change will allow it for new residents

Published: Sunday, March 12, 2017 @ 3:33 PM
Updated: Sunday, March 12, 2017 @ 3:33 PM

            Doctors will be able to work 24 hour stretches starting July 1 under new guidelines by the group that oversees medical residency programs.
            Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Doctors will be able to work 24 hour stretches starting July 1 under new guidelines by the group that oversees medical residency programs.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

New guidelines by the organization that oversees medical residency programs for new doctors in the United States will soon allow first-year residents to work shifts as long as 24 hours, eight hours more than the current limit.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, or ACGME, announced Friday that new doctors in their first year of residency can work 80 hours a week starting on July 1, and can work with patients for 24 hours at a stretch.

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The current rule, which was implemented in 2011, allows new residents to work 16 hours straight. The hours were capped from a previous 24-hour limit over concerns that patients care might suffer if new trainees were too tired.

“At the heart of the new requirements is the philosophy that residency education must occur in a learning and working environment that fosters excellence in the safety and quality of care delivered to patients both today and in the future,” ACGME’s chief executive officer Dr. Tomas Nasca said in a memo on the group’s website.

The rule change comes as some doctor groups and educators wondered whether the 16-hour cap actually improved patient safety. Critics contended the shorter hours may have actually caused more medical errors because patients are handed off to other medical staffers more often, according to Forbes.com.

The new guidelines follow a review of new resident hours and the impact on patient care that started in 2015.

Cancer pill could keep patients alive for more than 10 years, new study finds

Published: Thursday, March 09, 2017 @ 7:01 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 09, 2017 @ 7:01 PM

Cancer Pill Could Keep Patients Alive For More Than 10 Years

Before cancer drug imatinib mesylate, sold under the name Gleevec, a diagnosis for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) "amounted to a death sentence," according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Now, the drug could keep its patients alive for 10 years or longer, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday found.

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Data from the global study, which enrolled 1,106 participants at 177 cancer centers in more than 16 countries, showed that the once-a-day pill helped 83 percent of its patients extend their lives for at least a decade.

Prior to the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug in 2001, less than one in three CML patients survived five years past their diagnosis, according to a news release ono the study from Oregon Health & Science University.

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"This has been the thrill of my life," Dr. Richard Silver, a hematologist and oncologist in New York who helped test the drug in patients, told NBC News.

According to Silver, Gleevec is the first targeted personalized medicine ever used -- and the most successful.

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One of the surviving patients is Bharat Shah, who told NBC News he had six months to three years to live upon his diagnosis in 2000.

After joining a clinical trial of Gleevec, Shah said he was back to normal within two months. After 17 years using the drug, the only side effect is that his eyes get a little puffy.

Gleevec also proved effective against other forms of cancer, including pediatric CML and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), the study found.

Common side effects, according to the study, included nausea, fatigue, itchy skin and muscle pain.

Lyme disease: What is it and how to avoid it

Published: Tuesday, March 07, 2017 @ 7:20 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 07, 2017 @ 7:20 PM

10 Things to Know About Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a debilitating disease that is spread through the bite of the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, and the western blacklegged tick. The tick catches the bacteria from mice and transmits it to humans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates as many as 300,000 infections occur every year in the spring and summer. People living in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic states and the upper Midwest are at the greatest risk for catching Lyme disease, but it’s also been found along the West Coast.

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The illness can cause flu-like symptoms, and if left untreated, can cause severe long-term medical problems, the CDC said, but, if caught early, it’s easily treatable with antibiotics.

There’s a greater risk for catching Lyme disease when camping, hiking, working or playing in wooded and grassy areas.

But there are some easy ways of reducing tick bites. Be aware of your environment during outdoor activities and avoid walking through tall bushes and overgrown vegetation. Use an insect repellent on skin or clothing containing 20 percent or more of DEET. Perform daily tick checks if you’re vacationing or live in a high-risk area. Check your pets for ticks.

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If you find a tick on your body, remove it quickly with a pair of tweezers. If the tick has been on you for less than 24 hours, your chances of contracting Lyme disease are small, but watch for any signs of the illness, like rash or fever.

If you experience any symptoms of the disease, see your doctor immediately.