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Reduce the risk of a Salmonella infection from eggs by cooking them thoroughly.

Reduce the risk of a Salmonella infection from eggs by cooking them thoroughly.
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5-minute read

Key facts

  • Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) is a bowel infection caused by salmonella bacteria.
  • It usually gets better by itself within a week, but some people need to take antibiotics.
  • Some people can become very unwell with dehydration.
  • You can catch salmonella from eating infected animal products or from contact with animals or sick people.
  • You can prevent salmonella with good hygiene and safe food handling practices.

What is salmonella?

Salmonella infection, also called salmonellosis, is a type of gastroenteritis (or 'gastro'). It is caused by salmonella bacteria. It usually comes from contaminated food, so it's sometimes called ‘food poisoning'.

What are the symptoms of salmonella?

Symptoms generally start between 6 hours and 3 days after you have been infected and may include:

Symptoms usually last between 4 and 7 days.

What causes salmonella?

Many animals are infected with salmonella bacteria. Salmonellosis in humans is usually caused by eating undercooked foods from infected animals, such as chicken or eggs.

Infection can also occur if bacteria are transferred to your mouth from:

  • other contaminated foods — such as vegetables cut with the same knife as raw chicken
  • contaminated water
  • handling animals without washing your hands afterwards
  • another person — if they are sick or if they handle food or animals without washing their hands afterwards
  • surfaces that have bacteria on them — such as nappies, taps or toilets

If you have been infected, you can spread salmonella for as long as you carry the bacteria in your bowel, which may be months after you stop having any symptoms.

When should I see my doctor?

See your doctor if you have:

  • fever
  • severe abdominal pain
  • bloody diarrhoea
  • dehydration
  • symptoms that don't improve after a few days

If you are an older person, pregnant or have a weak immune system, or if you think your baby has salmonella, talk to your doctor immediately.


How is salmonella diagnosed?

Salmonella is diagnosed by collecting a stool (poo) sample to test for bacteria. Salmonellosis is a notifiable disease. This means that your doctor or health clinic will let government health authorities know there is a case of salmonellosis in your community.

How is salmonella treated?

Rest at home and drink a lot of fluids, such as water or oral rehydration drinks. You can buy these from your pharmacy. If you are very sick or can't drink, you may need to receive fluids through a needle into your vein (IV).

Babies should continue breastfeeding or drinking their usual formula. Ask your doctor if they should have oral rehydration solution.

Most people recover within about a week and do not need antibiotics. However, antibiotics may be prescribed for people who have severe symptoms or are at high risk of complications.

Avoid medicine to prevent vomiting or diarrhoea, unless recommended by your doctor.

Can salmonella be prevented?

To prevent salmonella infection, make sure to handle, store and cook food safely.

Avoid high-risk foods such as:

  • raw or incompletely cooked chicken
  • cracked or dirty eggs
  • unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • unpasteurised milk products

Good hand hygiene is especially important to prevent salmonella. You should wash your hands:

  • after going to the toilet
  • after changing nappies
  • after touching animals
  • before and after preparing food
  • before eating

If you have salmonella, stay home from school or work and avoid contact with other people for at least 24 hours after your symptoms stop. If you work in healthcare, childcare or the food industry, or if you care for older people, wait at least 48 hours after your symptoms stop. Avoid preparing food for other people until at least 24 hours after your symptoms stop.

Preventing salmonella when you travel

Typhoid and paratyphoid are diseases that are caused by 2 different species of salmonella bacteria: Salmonella typhi (typhoid) and Salmonella paratyphi (paratyphoid). These types of salmonella infections are common in Asia, the Pacific islands, Africa, the Middle East and Central and South America. If you travel to these parts, avoid foods that may be contaminated such as salads and fresh fruit salads, raw or cold seafood, or cold meat. In these areas, use bottled water for drinking and for brushing teeth. Do not have ice in drinks or washed or cut fruit.

What are the complications of salmonella?

Salmonellosis can cause:

Resources and support

  • Learn more about good hand hygieneand handling food safely.
  • Find out how to prevent getting salmonella from eggs.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2022

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