Salmonella Poisoning Outbreak Lawyer

Everyone loves to eat, but eating your favorite food or out at your favorite restaurant shouldn’t make you sick with salmonella poisoning, also known as salmonellosis. Learn more about salmonella, recent outbreaks and current lawsuits from the food poisoning lawyers at Johnson//Becker.

History of Salmonella

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, typhoid and cholera were very common ailments around the world and claimed thousands of lives every year.

Both of these ailments are most commonly caused by contaminated water. Since back in those days there was no proper water treatment system, people fell sick after drinking contaminated water from wells, ponds, streams, and rivers. Since the cause of typhoid and cholera was not known, there was no medication or treatment either, and people ended up dead.

In those days, typhoid and cholera often took the form of an epidemic, wiping out several towns and villages at once.

It was in 1880 that the salmonella strain was first visualized by bacteriologist Karl Eberth, in the spleens and Peyer’s patches of typhoid patients. It was four years later that bacteriologist Georg Theodor Gaffky could culture the pathogen.

A year later, scientist Theobald Smith discovered the Salmonella enteric (Choleraesuis) strain.

In the beginning, Salmonella Choleraesuis was assumed to be the cause behind hog cholera, so it was called “Hog-cholerabacillus”.

The name Salmonella was used only from 1900 after Joseph Leon Lignières proposed that the pathogen discovered by Salmon be named after him.

Salmonella symptoms

salmonella bacteria

“Do I have salmonella”, is a common question. The symptoms below will give you the answers you are looking for.

Salmonella causes a variety of ailments, ranging from no symptoms at all to severe symptoms that require hospitalization.

The symptoms of salmonella poisoning become visible pretty quickly, within 8 to 72 hours of consuming contaminated food or drink.

Symptoms can be aggressive and last 48 hours or more. If not treated, it can turn severe and require hospitalization.

Some of the most common symptoms of salmonella poisoning are:

Nausea: When you have any kind of infection in the intestine, the first symptom is always nausea. The same applies to food poisoning.

Nausea may or may not include vomiting. Usually in case of food poisoning nausea is the first visible symptom even before abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Abdominal pain: Salmonella poisoning affects the bowels severely. The job of the bowel is to eliminate waste out of the body.

When there is salmonella in your intestine, the bowels want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. In order to eliminate germs, the muscles of the bowels contract, causing abdominal pain.

This is one of the first signs of salmonella poisoning, alongside nausea. Because abdominal pain can have various reasons, it is hard to detect salmonella in the beginning. In fact, abdominal pain caused by salmonella poisoning can be severe and doctors can sometimes mistake it for appendicitis.

Diarrhea: Frequent bowel movement and loose, watery stool is a sign of a gastrointestinal problem. Diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms of various kinds of salmonella infections.

However, not all salmonella infections cause bloody diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea is only caused by certain infections, such as E coli. Otherwise, food poisoning usually causes normal diarrhea. If not checked in time, severe diarrhea can cause dehydration, dizziness, and unconsciousness.

Vomiting: In most cases, salmonella poisoning is not a serious ailment. However, in some people, such as young children and the elderly, it can often turn fatal if not treated in time.

Along with diarrhea, another prominent symptom of food poisoning is vomiting. Just like diarrhea, vomiting can cause severe dehydration. Therefore, in the case of severe vomiting, the patient must be given oral rehydration solutions to prevent dehydration.

Fever and chills: Because salmonella poisoning is a kind of infection, it is not unusual to experience high temperatures and chills.

In most cases, a patients fever will persist until the infection is completely eliminated from the system. Doctors may prescribe medication for fever, and for the chills, it is usually recommended to remain warm.

Headache and muscle pain: Alongside fever, it isn’t unusual to experience a headache and muscle pain in case of salmonella poisoning.

Bloody diarrhea: In normal cases of salmonella poisoning, bloody diarrhea is very rare. If there is blood in the stool it is usually a symptom of a different form of food poisoning called E coli.

Other Complications of Salmonella

salmonella food poisoning

Although most salmonella infections usually resolve within a few days with proper treatment, in approximately 5 percent of cases, there may be other complications, such as bacteremia.

When bacteremia happens, it is a sign that the patient has developed a bacterial infection in their blood.

Usually salmonella infections do not affect the bloodstream. But it may happen in the case of children, the elderly, or people with a weak immune system.

Another rare complication associated with salmonella poisoning can cause irritable bowel syndrome.

Even if the patient develops further complications, in most cases, they usually recover with proper treatment. However, in a very small number of cases, the patient may develop a condition called reactive arthritis.

It is unclear just how many people develop reactive arthritis in response to salmonella poisoning, but it is assumed that two to 15 percent of patients are at risk.

Reactive arthritis has symptoms such as inflammation of joints, muscles, eyes, and the reproductive and urinary organs.

More specific symptoms include pain and swelling of the knees, ankles, feet and heels, and sometimes in the wrists, fingers, lower back and other joints. Inflammation of the tendons (tendonitis) (inflammation of the tendons) or of the entheses (enthesitis) are also possible symptoms.

More severe symptoms include inflammation of the prostate gland, cervix or urethra, conjunctivitis and inflammation of the inner eye, ulcers and skin rashes.

In one study, it was found that these complications usually develop 14 to 18 days after the initial salmonella infection.

The study also found that only 15 percent of these patients seek medical help for the symptoms, but more than half of them continue to experience symptoms of reactive arthritis until 6 months later.

Although most patients recover from reactive arthritis within a few months, a few may continue to experience complications for many years. Since there is no cure for arthritis, the course of treatment generally involves relieving the symptoms.

The good news is that out of all the salmonella poisoning cases each year, only 20 percent may require hospitalization. Out of that 20 percent, only 5 percent have chances of developing further complications (like the ones listed above), while only one percent dies.

Salmonella poisoning in infants and in people above the age of 65 usually requires hospitalization.

Salmonella Causes

salmonella causes

Salmonella is most commonly found in waste and fecal matter. The bacterium originates in fecal matter. It is also found in the intestines of humans, animals, and birds. Salmonella poisoning is always caused by consuming contaminated food or water.

Places with unhygienic sources of food and contaminated water resources usually have a higher incidence of food poisoning.

In one study it was found that 87 percent of all salmonella poisoning cases were food-borne, while only 10 percent was contracted from person to person. Therefore if you do not come into contact with a contaminated source of food or water, you are not likely to get salmonella poisoning.

Some of the most common contaminated sources of salmonella are:

Raw meat, fish, and poultry: It is not uncommon to contract salmonella from raw meat, fish or poultry. Salmonella lives in the intestine of almost every living organism, including humans, animals, fish, and birds.

However, because it’s a bacterium, it spreads when it comes into contact with something. If raw meat, raw fish or poultry products come into contact with fecal matter or contaminated water, they get contaminated. In most cases, this contamination goes unnoticed.

When these contaminated products are consumed by humans, it causes salmonella poisoning. Undercooked food is also often a source of salmonella.

Consuming unpasteurized milk: Raw milk and dairy products are also a big source of salmonella. Raw milk is often consumed by those who have cows at home or choose to drink it for dietary reasons. Cheese and butter that have not been pasteurized also carry salmonella.

Therefore, only processed, pasteurized milk and milk products should be consumed to avoid salmonella poisoning.Raw eggs: It is for good reason that eggs are recommended to be fully cooked in order to kill the presence of any bacteria. Raw eggs are one of the most common sources of salmonella.

Contrary to common knowledge, salmonella does not get into the eggs after they are laid. Rather, they are produced by infected chickens. Usually cooking the eggs on high heat kills the bacteria. However, consuming raw eggs can often lead to salmonella poisoning. Raw eggs are used to make eggnog, mayonnaise, and various other sauces and dips.

Fruits and vegetables: You might be wondering how salmonella can get into fruits and vegetables if they are only present in the bodies of animals and birds. Salmonella is not present in fruits and vegetables. But the fruit or vegetable can easily get contaminated if it comes into contact with other known sources of salmonella.

If fruits and vegetables are irrigated with the contaminated water or washed together with raw fish and meat, they can easily get contaminated. Consuming spoiled fruits and vegetables can also cause salmonella poisoning.

Raw and lightly cooked sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. Particularly salmonella food poisoning.

International travel: Certain types of salmonella, such as those that cause cholera and typhoid, are more common in developing or underdeveloped nations with poor sanitation and hygiene. Traveling to these countries can cause salmonella poisoning.

Poor hygiene: Even when we are not dealing with raw meat or fish, there is a high chance of salmonella contamination because of lifestyle factors.

Not washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or caring for a sick person is the most common hygiene mistake that people make. Not washing hands after handling raw meat, fish, and eggs is another cause of salmonella contamination.
 One must also wash hands after handling pets or doing cleaning work. Clothes should be thoroughly washed if they come into contact with a sick person, pet or other contaminants as well.

Pets: If you have pets at home, you are particularly at risk for salmonella infections because some animals and birds carry the salmonella bacteria. The most common are
Birds, live poultry, reptiles, and amphibians.

To keep yourself safe, you must keep your pets clean at all times and make sure to clear away fur and dander immediately. Also, do not forget to wash your hands after touching your pets and before touching food.

Weak immunity: Healthy people with a strong immune system can not only resist infections but also recover quickly in case of salmonella poisoning.

However, infants, children, pregnant women, and those above the age of 65 are more at risk because of weakened immune systems.

Eating out at restaurants: If you regularly eat out, you are at higher risk of food poisoning. Always make sure that you eat at a place that follows proper hygiene while preparing food and serving it. Usually, it is easy to determine how clean the place is just by looking at it. If a certain restaurant or eatery has had food poisoning cases in the past, it is best to avoid them. But in some cases. especially during foodborne illness outbreaks, the restaurant might be serving you food that is contaminated with salmonella from the distributor or manufacturer.

Diagnosing Salmonella Poisoning

salmonella tests

In most cases, healthy people recover from salmonella poisoning without having to seek medical attention. However, in some cases, medical attention may be required, especially if the patient is an infant or above the age of 65.

There are a number of ways for the healthcare practitioner to diagnose a case of Salmonellosis. These are:

Physical examination: When you go to a doctor with a possible case of salmonella poisoning, one of the first things the doctor does is perform a physical examination on you. During the physical exam, healthcare practitioner will assess you for the typical signs of salmonella poisoning.

The abdomen will also be examined pain and tenderness. In the case of infants, a rectal exam might also be needed. However, the physical exam can never completely indicate if the person is suffering from salmonella poisoning. Therefore, further tests are required.

Lab tests: Salmonella poisoning is very common in the United States, with approximately 1.2 million cases every year. Unfortunately, the symptoms of salmonella poisoning often overlap with other conditions.

Without a thorough diagnosis, it is hard to detect salmonellosis. Although salmonella poisoning results from some kind of contaminated food source, complicated cases require various kinds of lab tests because the symptoms are often vague.

To detect various forms of salmonella poisoning, stool testing is necessary.

There are over 2,000 strains of salmonella, and without stool testing, it is almost impossible to diagnose which type is responsible for the poisoning. The result of the stool test will also help the doctor prescribe the right kind of antibiotic.

In more complicated cases of salmonellosis, blood tests are required. This is usually performed if the doctor suspects that the infection has entered the bloodstream.

No other tests are usually required even in the most severe cases of salmonella poisoning.

How salmonella is treated?

salmonella treating

Salmonella poisoning is extremely common and there are various ways to deal with it.

In most cases, a trip to the doctor or hospital is not necessary, but we suggest that you speak with a healthcare professional if you suspect that you have become sickened by salmonella.

This will help you to preserve your legal rights to pursue a food poisoning lawsuit if you feel that your salmonella poisoning diagnosis is related to a recent outbreak.

If you haven’t already visited your doctor or a hospital and the symptoms continue to remain severe after 48 hours or become worse, medical attention should be sought immediately. Usually, in mild to moderate cases of salmonella poisoning, the patient recovers within 48 to 72 hours without any medication.

Even if you don’t need to go to the doctor, there are home remedies you can try to feel better and recover more quickly. Some of the most popular home remedies for salmonella poisoning are:


Dehydration is the most major cause of concern in salmonellosis. If not controlled early, it can also turn fatal. That is why staying hydrated is the primary treatment of salmonella poisoning. If you’re an adult, you must increase your fluid intake by consuming water, fruit juices, broths, sports drinks, or non-caffeinated drinks.

In severe nausea, it is often difficult to drink liquids. In that case, it is better to suck on ice chips throughout the day. It is not only more tolerable but also an effective way for rehydration.

Dehydration in children is sometimes hard to detect at first, but in mild to moderate dehydration, pediatric oral rehydration solutions (like Pedialyte) are not only good to rehydrate the child but also to restore the lost electrolytes and nutrients.

Even if the child doesn’t show signs of dehydration in case of food poisoning, their fluid intake should be increased.

When you have diarrhea and vomiting, your body tends to lose more fluid than it takes in. if you don’t keep rehydrating yourself, dehydration can make you more miserable.

The signs of dehydration are varied and can differ from one person to another. In adults, the following are the most common signs of dehydration:

  • Decreased urination
  • Dark urine color
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and confusion

In children, the signs of dehydration are often different. These include:

  • The absence of tears during crying
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken cheeks
  • Decreased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Increased irritability and crying

If the child is unable to keep liquids down or is showing signs of severe dehydration, you must seek medical attention immediately. Untreated dehydration can be fatal in children.

Eating bland food

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), certain types of food can worsen symptoms of salmonella poisoning. Therefore, you must be careful to avoid the following types of food and/or drinks:

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Fried or oily food
  • Dairy products
  • Sugary or aerated drinks
  • Fruits with a high fiber content
  • Spicy food

In severe cases of food poisoning, it is difficult to handle food. When you feel better, and your stomach can handle some food, a mild, bland diet is best.

Not only is it easy for your stomach to handle but it will also taste good. In fact, a bland diet is most comforting during illness.

Certain fruits, like bananas, are also good during diarrhea. Bland diets are least likely to irritate your delicate stomach but will also replenish your system with the nutrients you have lost. Alongside eating small meals, you must continue to keep yourself hydrated.

Other remedies

If rest and rehydration aren’t enough to cure the infection, you can take over-the-counter medications. Over-the-counter medications are usually taken to treat symptoms of the infection and not the infection itself.

Painkillers: If there is fever, headache, and body ache, over-the-counter pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol are useful in relieving symptoms.

Anti-diarrheal medication: If you’re having frequent bowel movements or loose, watery stool, antidiarrheal medications can help control the symptoms. If you’re having more than five bowel movements a day, then you might consider taking antidiarrheals, otherwise, there’s the risk of dehydration. Antidiarrheal medications also ease the abdominal discomfort of salmonella infections.

Probiotics: Microbiologists from the University of California have found that probiotics are often effective in soothing salmonella infection symptoms. There are anecdotal reports that the effective probiotic strain is the one that’s used to treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. This probiotic contains a strain of E. coli and is called Nissle 1917. Initially, researchers believed this strain was available only in Germany, but as of 2018, research reveals it can also be found in the US in limited number.

For using probiotics like this, you first have to consult with your healthcare practitioner, who might be able to help you find one that’s appropriate for you.

Antibiotics: In most cases, people recover from salmonella poisoning in a few days without medical intervention. The typical time taken to recover is four to seven days. If there are no complications, antibiotics aren’t recommended.

However, if the symptoms persist or grow worse, if you have a weak immune system, or if the infection has entered the bloodstream, you may require a course of antibiotics.
The kind of antibiotic to administer depends upon the type of salmonella strain that’s caused your condition. Usually, this is ascertained from a stool or blood test.

Some of the more common antibiotics prescribed include cefotaxime (Claforan), amoxicillin, and ciprofloxacin (Cipro), among others.

The downside of antibiotic treatment is that there is an increased risk of a relapse. Antibiotics may also extend the duration of that the bacteria remain in your system.
If severe dehydration is also present or if the symptoms have lasted more than seven days (even after antibiotics), you may need hospitalization. Intravenous (IV) fluids and stronger antibiotics may be needed to get rid of the infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ button on keyboard

  • Is salmonella contagious? Yes. Many types of salmonella are contagious. The bacteria can be transferred from person to person directly (by kissing, etc) or indirectly (sharing utensils, etc). You can also get salmonella poisoning from animals (snakes, turtles, chickens, hamsters, cats, and dogs). This is usually transmitted through direct contact.
  • Can my baby get food poisoning from salmonella when pregnant? Salmonella when pregnant can affect the fetus but this is often very rare! There have been rare reports of preterm delivery and miscarriages but again, this is not the norm with salmonella in babies. According to experts, salmonella poisoning will generally run its course and shouldn’t be of major concern to expectant moms.
  • Can salmonella kill you or is it deadly? Salmonella causes a variety of ailments, ranging from no symptoms at all to severe symptoms that require hospitalization. The symptoms of salmonella poisoning become visible pretty quickly, within 8 to 72 hours of consuming contaminated food or drink. Symptoms can be aggressive and last 48 hours or more. If not treated, it can turn severe, require hospitalization and/or kill you.

Salmonella Outbreaks – Food Poisoning Incidence

salmonella outbreak

In 2018 alone, the U.S. Centers for Disease & Prevention (CDC) have recorded a record number of salmonella outbreaks. Here is a list that our law firm has recognized.

Salmonella Lawsuits

Food Poisoning Lawyer & Lawsuits

Salmonella poisoning is not uncommon at all and every few months there is an outbreak somewhere or the other. There have been several high profile salmonella lawsuits in the last few years, and most of them have made it to the news headlines.

One such case was won by an Arizona family in 2018 after salmonella from a poultry farm almost killed their toddler five years ago. James and Amanda Craten filed a salmonella lawsuit against Foster Farms after their toddler Noah became sick from the rare, antimicrobial resistant bacterium called salmonella heidelberg. The child developed severe complications because of an abscess in the front of the brain caused by the bacterium. The then 17-month-old had to undergo a brain surgery to remove the abscess. The family won a jury verdict against Foster Farms for $1.9 million.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has had to face food poisoning lawsuits on multiple occasions. The most recent food poisoning outbreak sickened over 600 customers in Ohio. Outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella and norovirus prompted Chipotle to close more than 2,000 locations for food safety training in February 2016.

JBS Tolleson Inc, an Arizona-based meat producer, has recalled about 12.1 million pounds of beef products that were sold at more than 100 retailers, including Kroger Co and WalMart Inc, which may have been contaminated with salmonella. This salmonella ground beef outbreak has sickened hundreds of people in more than 25 states. Ground beef lawsuits have already been filed.

Questions About a Salmonella Lawsuit? Contact a Johnson//Becker Lawyer.

If you have been diagnosed with salmonella food poisoning, you should speak with a food poisoning lawyer to learn more about your legal rights in pursuing a lawsuit.

Not all food poisoning cases should be taken to court. But if your illness is directly tied to a salmonella outbreak, you most certainly should investigate the possibility of filing suit.

The lawyers at Johnson//Becker offer a Free Case Evaluation. Please contact us using the form below or by calling us at (800) 279-6386. We would be honored to speak with you and respond promptly to every inquiry we receive.

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