Salmonella (cont.)

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How can Salmonella infection be prevented?

Cleanliness is a key to prevention. Hand washing with soap and hot water, especially after handling eggs, poultry, and raw meat is likely to reduce the chance for infections. The use of antibacterial soaps has been recommended by some investigators. By using chlorine-treated drinking water, washed produce, and by not ingesting undercooked foods such as eggs, meat, or other food, people can also reduce the chance of exposure to Salmonella. Avoiding direct contact with animal carriers of Salmonella (for example, turtles, snakes, pigs) also may prevent the disease.

Public-health authorities who enforce restaurant cleanliness and employee hand washing have helped in general prevention. Human carriers of Salmonella should never work in the food-handling service industry and ideally should undergo gallbladder removal and antibiotic therapy for an attempt for a cure of the carrier state. Public-health authorities also ask for product recalls when products are contaminated with Salmonella or other contaminating organisms or toxins. In 2009, there was a recall for peanut-containing foods (for example, peanut butter, cookies, crackers). The Westco Fruit and Nut Co., Inc., provided peanut-based paste that was reported to contain Salmonella and was used to make many food products. Eventually, about 3,800 products were recalled. Similar recalls have occurred for pistachio nuts from a California provider in March 2009 and for tomatoes in 2008, both contaminated with Salmonella. Recent recalls for contaminated beef in July and August 2009 contained Salmonella with multiple drug resistance. The huge egg recall in September 2010 may have been prevented if the several egg-farming companies had practiced good sanitation and provided sanitary conditions for the hens to be housed. Also in 2010, parsley and cilantro (about 7,000 cases of these products) were recalled because Salmonella spp. contamination was detected. Recalls increase the safety of the population from exposure to microbial and toxic food contaminants.

Although some Salmonella vaccines are available for poultry and animals, human vaccines are available only for typhoid fever. However, the CDC does not recommend that everyone get vaccinated for typhoid fever; they recommend that only those people going to developing countries where typhoid fever is endemic (for example, regions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America) should receive the vaccine. The typhoid fever vaccine is available in an oral (Ty21) and injectable form (ViCPS). People planning to request these vaccines should notify their doctors well in advance (about eight to 10 weeks) before they need the vaccine as it may not be readily available and need to be administered about two weeks before travel. Researchers are attempting to develop other vaccines for all types of Salmonella infections.

The animal vaccine is being used in Europe to make hens less likely to transmit disease to their eggs and to other hens. However, those European egg producers who use the vaccine on hens are cautioned to also maintain sanitary conditions and good housing for the poultry since the vaccine is not 100% protective. The FDA does not require U.S. egg producers to vaccinate their hens; however, the 2010 egg recall has caused the agency to reexamine this policy and the FDA may require vaccination of hens in the future.

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