Salmonella is a very common type of food poisoning. Although found worldwide, it is most commonly reported in Europe and the Americas. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 1.4 million cases per year in the United States, or 1 in every 194 people. Only 40,000 or 2-3 percent of these are confirmed cases that are reported to the CDC.
It can also be a health insurance nightmare. Because it’s often misdiagnosed, health insurance providers often face lawsuits following fatal cases of salmonella.
What Is Salmonella?
Salmonella is one of the most common types of food-caused illness. Approximately 31 percent of all food-caused illnesses can be traced to the salmonella bacteria. It was first discovered by American scientist Daniel E. Salmon.
The offending bacteria pass from animals’ feces to the human food cycle in microscopic amounts. What makes it so dangerous is that just a few cells can cause serious or even fatal illness. It can be prevented by avoiding the consumption of uncooked animal foods or juices, but this is sometimes easier said than done.
Most people recover from salmonella food poisoning without treatment. However some will incur longer-term symptoms like arthritis, and it can be fatal for the very young, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system. There are an estimated 1000 deaths each year from salmonella food poisoning.
Why Isn’t Salmonella Poisoning Always Properly Diagnosed?
Many cases are not reported simply because the sufferer doesn’t feel bad enough to seek treatment or inform their health insurance provider. Therefore there is no official diagnosis made and no CDC report created.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, chills, headache and dehydration and will appear within 8 to 12 hours after eating the contaminated food. These may last 4 to 7 days. Because this symptom group is very much like common flu symptoms, most people will not seek medical advice.
This is probably the biggest reason that most cases go unreported. The victims themselves don’t recognize that they have food poisoning. The illness comes and goes, and the patient believes he has suffered a bout with influenza.
Another reason salmonella poisoning can go unrecognized is that people fail to recognize situations in which it commonly is spread, so they never pass that information along to their doctors or health insurance providers. For example after working with raw eggs while making a cake or cutting up a raw chicken before cooking, there may be traces of these foods on unwashed cutting boards or knives. The salmonella bacteria can then be transferred to something that isn’t intended for cooking, like a salad.
Recent restaurant meals can also be an unremembered source of salmonella. Food vendors can easily cross-contaminate their own kitchens, unwittingly spreading this bacteria. Street vendors are especially risky. There is really no preventative care for such bacterias, it is best to know the health reviews of restaurants prior to dining in them.
Dangers of Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis could be dangerous. Should these symptoms be severe or long-lasting, medical treatment should be sought. If the sufferer is an infant, elderly person, pregnant, or be otherwise in poor health, medical treatment must be obtained immediately.