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Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that usually affects the digestive system, and occasionally affects urine, the bloodstream, or other body tissues.

Salmonella is a common cause of diarrheal illness in Wisconsin.

Salmonella is spread by eating or drinking food or water with Salmonella bacteria in it, by touching objects with Salmonella germs on them, or by touching poop from infected people or animals.

Every year, the bacteria cause nearly one million illnesses spread by food nationwide.

To prevent salmonellosis, it is important to wash your hands often and properly.

Salmonella bacteria, close up

Salmonellosis 101

People can get infected with salmonellosis by eating or drinking food or water with Salmonella bacteria in it.
Baby chick, newly hatched out of egg
  • Salmonella are commonly found in raw meats, poultry, eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products.
  • It is important to wash your hands before and after handling food such as raw meats and eggs.
People can also get infected by contact with poop from people or animals that have salmonellosis.
  • Salmonella can be found anywhere in the environment and commonly lives in the intestines of many types of animals.
  • An infected person can spread Salmonella in their poop several days to several weeks after becoming infected.
  • Some people, such as infants or people who have been treated with antibiotics, may carry the bacteria in their poop for months.
  • About 1% of infected adults, and 5% of children under the age of 5 can carry Salmonella in their poop for over one year.
  • It is very important to wash your hands often and properly, especially after contact with animals, such as chicks, dogs, cats, and reptiles, after going to the bathroom, and before eating or handling food.

Symptoms usually appear 12–36 hours after contact with Salmonella bacteria. However, they can occur as quickly as 6 hours or as long as one week after contact.

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Bloodstream infection (uncommon)

Certain strains of Salmonella can be more harmful than others.

Children, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system may have more serious symptoms.

A person curled up on its side on a bed with hands on stomach

Most people do not need antibiotic treatment and will recover on their own. It is important to drink a lot of fluids to prevent dehydration while you are having symptoms.

Checking internal temperature of whole turkey with meat thermometer
  • Always treat raw eggs, poultry, beef, and pork as if they are contaminated, and handle accordingly.
    • Wrap fresh meats in plastic bags at the grocery store to prevent blood or juice from dripping onto other foods.
    • Refrigerate foods promptly; minimize holding at room temperature.
    • When refrigerating meats, place them on the bottom shelf to prevent blood or juice from dripping onto other foods.
    • Use a designated cutting board for raw meat. Cutting boards and counters used for meat preparation should be washed with soap immediately after use to prevent cross contamination with other foods.
    • Always wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling raw meat.
    • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meats.
    • Ensure that the correct internal cooking temperature is reached, particularly when using a microwave oven.
    • Avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs or undercooking foods that contain raw eggs.
  • Avoid using and drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk.
  • Carefully wash hands with soap contact with animals, such as dogs, cats, and reptiles and farm animals; after going to the bathroom; and before eating or handling food.
  • Make sure children wash their hands with soap before eating, especially after handling pets.
  • Always carefully wash hands with soap after using the bathroom.

Provider information

This is a Wisconsin disease surveillance category II disease:

Wisconsin case reporting and public health follow-up guidelines:

Wisconsin Local Health DepartmentsRegional officesTribal agencies

Salmonella Information for Health Professionals: The CDC webpage covering clinical features of a Salmonella infection, diagnosis, treatment, and more.

Questions about salmonellosis? Contact us!
Phone: 608-267-9003 | Fax: 608-261-4976

Wisconsin Local Health DepartmentsRegional officesTribal agencies

Last revised April 14, 2023