The CDC is investigating a rapidly growing outbreak of Salmonella impacting 29 states, with the highest concentration of cases currently in Texas and Oklahoma. Anyone experiencing diarrhea with a fever higher than 102 degrees or diarrhea for more than three days that’s not improving could be infected - the inability to keep liquids down is another symptom. DispatchHealth Chief Medical Officer Dr. Phil Mitchell says most Salmonella infections will resolve in four to seven days; however, “those who become more ill may develop concerning symptoms and have worse health outcomes. If the diarrhea is long-lasting and results in dehydration, patients may not be able to keep up with fluids by drinking water or fluids alone.” Prevention of severe dehydration is vital. If you feel increased thirst, dizziness or light-headedness, or increasingly feeling weak, it may be time to call for help. Also, if you cannot break your fever or keep fluids down, you should seek help sooner instead of later.
Most frequently, people become infected with Salmonella after eating contaminated food. Symptoms typically show up within a few hours of swallowing the bacteria, but it can take several days. Stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever are most common, and while most people will recover on their own, Dr. Mitchell adds, “The stress and strain of a persistent Salmonella infection are hard on the body. Delayed treatment can also make for longer-lasting infections, especially in frail patients or those with compromised immune systems. It’s also possible for the infection to move to the bloodstream, which may result in more damage to vital organs."
Home is where those suffering infections like Salmonella feel most comfortable, where they can be close to their loved ones, bed, and bathroom. Dr. Mitchell reminds us, “Having multiple episodes of watery diarrhea that are associated with pain and intermittent vomiting can be uncomfortable and frankly embarrassing. Patients want to be cared for where they feel a sense of comfort and control. Healthcare providers like DispatchHealth can bring the fluids, the antibiotics (if required), and the anti-nausea medications to work on the variety of symptoms where the patient wants the care to occur.”
While contaminated foods are typically the likely culprit, household pets can also spread the bacteria. Kitchen preventatives include:
Washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
Cleaning cooking surfaces where you’ve handled raw meats.
Cooking foods to the recommended temperatures.
Hand washing is also an important step to prevent the spread and a good habit from reducing the reach of many communicable infections. Currently, the CDC still hasn’t pinpointed the source of this most recent outbreak, making it essential for anyone who has a diagnosed condition to contact their local health department.
To get care DispatchHealth is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including holidays. To request help, call 833-856-0177 or log on to staging.dispatchhealth.com.