WHO says multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to chocolate products; know about the infection

According to the World Health Organization, there has been an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium that investigations linked to “chocolate produced in Belgium, which have been distributed to at least 113 countries”. As a primary enteric pathogen that can infect humans and animals, the infection begins with the ingestion of contaminated food or water, allowing Salmonella, a bacteria, to reach the intestinal epithelium, and to cause gastrointestinal disease.

Dr Gaurav Jain, consultant, Internal Medicine, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi, “Salmonella infection or salmonellosis is a common bacterial infection that affects the intestinal tract of humans”.

Here’s all you need to know.


According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonella Typhimurium causes gastroenteritis leading to diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps which “develop 12-72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria”.

Treatment and recovery

According to CDC, the illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment.

“In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalised. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics,” it states.

Diarrhea is a  sign of a gut health problem. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

Who is more vulnerable?

According to CDC,

*Children younger than five years
*Adults older than 65
*People with weakened immune systems

What can help?

It is advisable to wash your hands, avoid raw meat or poultry, regularly clean pet faeces and maintain hygiene at best, said Dr Jain.

Dr Sulaiman Ladhani, consulting chest physician, MD Chest and Tuberculosis, Masina Hospital suggested that one should avoid ice during this summer heat unless made from safe water. He also suggested that kitchen counters should be cleaned before keeping food items on it.

Here are some measures that can help, according to WebMD.

Salmonella can hide in a variety of foods, but certain steps can be taken to ensure the bacteria stay away:

*Don’t eat raw or barely cooked eggs or meat.
*Don’t eat or drink anything with unpasteurised milk or juice.
*Wash raw poultry, meat, or eggs before cooking.
*Wash raw fruits and vegetables well, and peel them if possible.
*Don’t prepare food for other people if you’re vomiting or have diarrhea.
*Refrigerate food properly, both before cooking it and after serving it.
*Wash your hands well with soap and warm water before and after handling food.
*Keep kitchen surfaces clean before preparing food on them.
*Don’t mix cooked food with raw food or use the same utensils to prepare them. For example, don’t use the same knife to cut raw chicken and then to slice mushrooms. Also, use different plates or cutting boards to slice them on.
*Cook meat to its correct minimum temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
*Wash your hands with soap and water after touching animals, their toys, and their bedding.

WHO also advises these measures:

General prevention measures for the public also include: handwashing with soap and water in particular after contact with pets or farm animals, or after having been to the toilet; ensuring food is properly cooked; drinking only pasteurised or boiled milk; avoiding ice unless it is made from safe water; washing of fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

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