Thursday, September 21, 2023

A look at salmonella and future prevention strategies

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Salmonella are bacteria that were discovered by an American scientist named Dr. Daniel Salmon in 1885. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are 1.35 million human cases a year, along with 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths.

USDA Agricultural Research Service An air sample was taken by USDA researchers from a caged layer room of birds infected with Salmonella enteritidis. Work is being done to make salmonella reduction a priority.

DSM reported in its article, “Zero Salmonella in Poultry Meat and Eggs: A Multi-Pronged Strategy to Reach the Goal,” that there are more than 2,600 variants or serotypes of salmonella that come from poultry.

Very few of these serotypes will cause infections in animals. However, most of them will cause illnesses in humans. Many people think that salmonella only comes from chickens or from chicken products. This is not always the case.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can come from vegetables, eggs and fruits. However, the bacteria can also be found in frozen foods like chicken nuggets, pot pies and stuffed chicken meals.

The germs can spread from animals to people and people to people. It’s common during the summertime because of the warmer temperatures. In food that has been left outside when the temperature is 90 degrees F or above, the bacteria will start to grow. If food is left outside for more than two hours, it can create the bacteria.

For people who own backyard poultry, the infection can be spread by simply touching the birds. The bacteria could possibly then be spread to the individual accidentally through contact.


The symptoms for salmonella are similar for most people. Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Symptoms usually start six hours to six days after consuming the bad bacteria.

A small minority of people may have more severe cases than most others because of their immune system or their age. Children five-years-old or younger may have severe cases. This is also the case for adults over the age of 65.

People with an autoimmune disease or have weak immune systems may have a severe case. The illness can last up to four to seven days. It is diagnosed through a laboratory test using a person’s stool, body tissue or fluids.

Salmonella infections can clear up without any antibiotics within four to seven days. Although, if a person has a more vulnerable immune system, they could require antibiotics.


To prevent getting salmonella from poultry wash hands thoroughly after handling. Hand sanitizer is permittable to use when soap and water are not accessible.

Likewise, make sure children wash their hands thoroughly after handling any animals if you own a backyard flock. Children five-years-old or younger must not touch chicks, ducklings or any other kind of poultry because they are more susceptible to get sick from the bacteria.

Unlike house pets, poultry should not be snuggled or kissed. Eating and drinking around the animals is not advised because the germs could be consumed. Keep the shoes you wear with the animals outside of the house.

Furthermore, the supplies you use to care for your poultry should be kept and cleaned outside. Handle the eggs with discretion and collect them often. Eggs that sit in the nest for too long get very dirty and could break.

Throw away any cracked eggs. The bacteria could fall through the crack of the broken egg. Rub off any access dirt with a cloth, a brush or fine sandpaper. Do not rinse them under cold water, the water could pull the germs into the egg.

Be sure to refrigerate eggs to prevent bacteria from growing in warm temperatures. Cook eggs completely to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F to kill all germs. It’s impossible to tell if food is contaminated by looking at it or smelling it. Safe handling of all food is recommended.

To avoid contamination, cook whole meats to an internal temperature 145 degrees F, ground meats are to be cooked to 160 degrees F and poultry is to be cooked to 165 degrees F.

Reduction initiatives

The USDA announced last October that it will be undertaking the task of reducing salmonella sicknesses in poultry products. The organization is gathering data and information to decrease salmonella infections by 25 percent.

The agency aims to explore feedback for certain salmonella measurement approaches with pilot projects in poultry slaughter and processing organizations.

According to the University of Georgia, the most detectable serotype of salmonella is the Kentucky serotype; 80 percent of the serotypes of salmonella in poultry are the Kentucky variant. Although, this type of strain does not normally cause a person to be sick. Poultry companies have been successful in removing this serotype from their products.

“Over recent years, the poultry industry has made great strides in reducing salmonella in their processing facilities,” said Nikki Shariat, an assistant professor with the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. “There is no silver bullet that can eliminate salmonella in the processing or during pre-harvest in the birds.”

Also, there are other types of salmonella that are not as easy to detect, such as Infantis, Enteritidis and Schwarzengrund. Back in 2015, Shariat developed a new type of technology. She found multiple strains of salmonella in live bird samples in which those conventional methods did not identify.

This technology is called CRISPR-Seroseq. It can find molecular signatures in salmonella’s CRISPR areas which is a concentrated part in the bacteria’s DNA. This helps researchers distinguish which strains of bacteria are most prominent.

The goal of technologies like this is to make salmonella cases less frequent.

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