The term salmonellosis covers a complex group of foodborne infections, caused by bacteria of the Salmonella genus, which affect both man and animals. Salmonellosis develops when food products containing salmonellas enter the body. The disease symptoms vary, depending upon the severity and source of infection. The onset of the gastrointestinal form of the disease (which occurs most frequently in man) is usually acute, with profuse vomiting and diarrhoea. The disease's duration is from 3 to 7 days.
Infected animals are the main source of the disease although humans (sick individuals or bacteria carriers) may sometimes also cause infection. The disease is transmitted by infected foods that are usually of animal origin; these foods become infected as a result of the forced, improper slaughter of animals and the violation of regulations governing the storage and preparation of food products, including contact between prepared and raw foods and insufficient cooking before consumption.
A group of diseases in poultry caused by are caused by Salmonella species, including fowl typhoid, pullorum disease, Arizona infection, and paratyphoid infection.
In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of salmonellosis in industrialized countries leading to a greater awareness of the resultant economic damage, including the cost of interrupted production and trade. In the USA in 1988 more than 40,000 cases of salmonellosis were reported and this may represent only 1% of the cases.
Salmonellosis has remained the most important foodborne disease in Europe during the 19990's, although the number of reported cases of campylobacteriosis has been rising and in some countries exceeds that of salmonellosis. Trichinosis remains a significant cause of parasitic outbreaks in some countries.