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What are salmonella?

Salmonella are mobile, gram-negative rod bacteria that occur worldwide. A salmonella infection is a typical food poisoning that causes diarrhoea. With a few exceptions, the pathogens multiply in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. Due to their structure, the two bacterial species Salmonella enterica and Salmonella bongori are differentiated into several serovars, in other words, variants within subspecies. A total of about 2,500 serovars are known.

How are salmonella transmitted?

The bacteria are transmitted through direct or indirect contact with contaminated persons, surfaces or food, and subsequent oral ingestion. Often an infection is caused by insufficiently heated eggs or poultry, by raw meat or by ice cream. However, the bacteria can also enter the food via contaminated kitchen utensils (such as cutting boards) or surfaces.
Infection is also possible through direct contact with animals that excrete salmonella. Although this route of transmission is very rare, it is particularly dangerous for infants and young children. Under certain conditions, transmission from person to person – a so-called smear infection – is also possible, especially in cases of inadequate hygiene, which is also particularly risky for young children.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

A salmonella infection is usually manifested by acute intestinal inflammation with diarrhoea, malaise, headache and abdominal pain. About 12 to 36 hours after infection, patients show the first signs of infection. Vomiting and mild fever are also typical symptoms. The disease usually lasts for several days, which brings with it the risk of dehydration, especially in young children and older people. Even after the symptoms have subsided, those affected can still be contagious for up to a month. In general, however, apart from the symptoms, the disease is not life-threatening. The death rate is less than 0.1%.

Significance for infections in hospitals and in the outpatient sector

Preventive measures to prevent the spread of salmonella in hospitals include basic hygiene measures, in particular, the strict observance of hand hygiene, along with surface disinfection of frequently touched surfaces. The same applies to compliance with hygiene measures in food establishments and communal catering establishments. Additional regulations for producing and maintaining salmonella-free foods include, for example, the thorough cooking and proper storage of food, or the frequent changing and sterilisation of kitchen towels.

Survival time of pathogens on inanimate surfaces

Salmonella spp. about 1 day (S. typhimurium up to 4.2 years)

Disinfectant effectiveness for prevention

The necessary spectrum of activity against salmonella is: bactericidal

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