August 15th, 2012 at 10:18 am
Salmonella infections pop up in the news every now and again. The disease can be picked up from contaminated food or water, and from animal feces, particularly from reptiles and poultry.
The severe flu-like symptoms of salmonellosis include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, aches, fever, bloody diarrhea, and dehydration. Not fun. Young children are particularly vulnerable because small exposures can infect immature immune symptoms and their hygiene habits aren’t always great.
Salmonella in Food
Food can be infected with salmonella, often from improper handling. Here are a few things you can do:
- Wash hands before and after preparing food.
- Cook meat, seafood, and eggs before serving, and use pasteurized eggs.
- Separate raw meats and eggs from other foods.
- Wash fruits and vegetables well.
- Use separate cutting boards for meats and fruits/vegetables.
Salmonella in Animals
Small turtles have been associated with salmonella and it is illegal in the United States to sell turtles with shells smaller than four inches. Backyard chicken coops, birds, and amphibians and reptiles can also carry salmonella. Luckily, most diseases humans can contract from animals, including salmonella, are preventable:
- Never let small children handle animals unattended.
- Always wash hands before and after handling animals.
- Supervise children washing their hands to make sure they do it well.
- Remind children to keep hands out of their mouths.
- After cleaning cages, tanks, or other animal habitats, wash the cleanup area, change clothes, then wash hands again.
Many classrooms have pets or egg-hatching projects. Ask your child’s teacher about the rules and make sure good procedures are in place. Consider volunteering to teach proper hand-washing skills. One easy trick is to sing the whole Alphabet Song while washing hands so kids learn to give it enough time and attention. A little common sense and a lot of soap and water can keep everyone healthy.
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