It seems like every couple of months or so another food is being recalled due to contamination with salmonella. Salmonella is a group of bacteria. It is one of the kinds of bacteria that causes what is commonly referred to as food poisoning. Not only can it be contracted by eating food that carries the bacteria, but also by handling pets or animals at a petting zoo who are healthy but carry salmonella. Because salmonella is fairly common, it’s important for family caregivers of older adults to know how to spot the symptoms.
Salmonella Poisoning Symptoms
The symptoms of salmonella usually appear within 12 to 72 hours of coming into contact with the bacteria. About 1.4 million people in the United States get salmonella poisoning each year. The symptoms of salmonella poisoning include:
- Cramping in the stomach.
- Bloody stool.
- Muscle aches.
Most of the time, the symptoms last only about a week. However, diarrhea can last longer, up to 10 days. And, it can take months for bowel movements to be normal again.
Preventing Salmonella from Pets
Although the most common way to contract salmonella is through food, most people aren’t aware that it can also be contracted through pets. However, that doesn’t mean your aging relative needs to give up their pets or avoid contact with animals. Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people take the following steps to prevent salmonella poisoning from pets:
- Always wash hands after touching pets, their food, or their belongings. It is especially important to wash hands after cleaning up urine or droppings.
- Remind your aging relative to keep their hands away from their mouth when petting an animal. Also, keep animal belongings, like toys, away from the mouth.
- Do not kiss pets.
- Because older adults have weakened immune system, they should avoid touching animals that are a higher risk for having salmonella, such as reptiles, frogs, chickens, and ducks.
- Clean pet habitats and bedding outside whenever possible. If you must clean it inside, do it in the bathtub. The bathtub can be more easily cleaned and sanitized when you’re done.
- Make sure the pet sees a veterinarian regularly. Keeping pets healthy can keep the older adult healthier, too.
Senior care can help your aging relative if they should develop salmonella poisoning. A senior care provider can assist them to the bathroom. They can also make sure the senior drinks plenty of liquids to replace those lost through vomiting or diarrhea. A senior care provider can also help your aging relative to avoid coming into contact with salmonella from pets. Senior care providers can remind them to wash their hands frequently and ensure pet dishes and bedding are kept clean. A senior care provider can even drive your aging relative and their pet to veterinary appointments.