Salmonella Infections
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Salmonella Infections in the Child Care Setting

Salmonella Infections

The Salmonella group of bacteria are a common cause of diarrheal illness among persons in the United States. These bacteria are often found in the digestive tract of a variety of animals as well as humans. Persons with salmonella infections often experience fever, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting in addition to diarrhea. Symptoms may persist for two weeks or more but are usually gone within a week.

Salmonella is present in the feces of ill and recently recovered persons and infections may be spread from person to person. However, outbreaks in child care settings are rare and most persons are believed to have acquired their infections from contaminated food. Some foods, such as chicken, come from naturally infected sources while others (such as tomatoes and some vegetables) are contaminated during processing. Food handlers may also contaminate food if they are infected or do not practice good hygiene in preparing food. An ordinarily safe food, such as baked goods, may become contaminated from juices of uncooked foods such as poultry. Although it has been known that salmonella may be present in cracked eggs for some time, it has been only recently that salmonella has been found in uncooked whole eggs. Given sufficient moisture and temperatures between 40o and 140o C, small numbers of salmonella will quickly increase to the point where they can cause illness in large numbers of persons. In addition to foodborne illnesses, pets, especially animals such as turtles, lizards and birds, often carry salmonella in their digestive tracts.

While child care providers are most likely to encounter this condition as a result of infection outside their facility, they need to be aware of good hygiene and foodhandling practices to prevent foodborne illness from occurring within their facility. Additionally, providers may reduce the likelihood of salmonella infection by: Making sure that children wash their hands after handling animals and cleaning their cages or pens. Because of the risk of salmonella infection, turtles, lizards, and other reptiles should not be kept as pets in child care centers. Limiting the serving of snacks and treats prepared outside the facility and served for special occasions to those from commercial sources. Home-prepared snacks may be not only prepared under less than optimal circumstances but may be transported and stored under conditions that will allow bacteria to grow. Avoid food containing raw eggs, including homemade ice cream made with raw eggs. Make sure that lunches brought from home are refrigerated when necessary. These include meals containing raw vegetables as well as those with meats. Dairy products and liquid formula should also be kept refrigerated in order to limit the growth of bacteria, including salmonella. Notify your state or local health department if you become aware that a child or staff person in your facility is infected with salmonella.

Note: This information is not intended to take the place of your state's or locality's child care regulations and laws. In every case, the laws and regulations of the city, county, and state in which the child care facility is located must be carefully followed even if they differ from these recommendations.

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