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January 3, 2011

Food Safety Monday

With numerous recalls of eggs, peanut butter, and produce in the news each year, many Americans are reminded of the risk of salmonella infection. Infection by Salmonella, a group of microscopic bacteria that can be transmitted from the feces of animals to humans, can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and sometimes death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that about 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported each year in the United States, though this number could be up to thirty times greater due to unreported cases. Approximately 400 of these cases result in death.

While these statistics may seem troubling, the risk of salmonellosis can be reduced by following proper food safety preparation and handling procedures as recommended by the CDC.

Reptiles including iguanas, lizards, snakes, and turtles in particular are prone to Salmonella infection; thus avoid direct or indirect contact with them in every way possible. The elderly, infants, and immunocompromised people are the most susceptible to developing severe cases of salmonellosis, thus use special caution when preparing and dealing with their foods.

For more information on Salmonella bacteria and salmonellosis, visit the CDC website.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.