Salmonellosis and food poisoning in children in the summer



Salmonellosis and food poisoning in children in the summer

Children are especially susceptible to gastrointestinal infections. Their underdeveloped immune system is incapable of protecting them, and so pathogens that cause mild symptoms in adults lead to violent reactions in children and can seriously endanger their health.

Colloquially, these infections are referred to as food poisoning, although it is only caused by poisonous foods and pesticides. Gastrointestinal infections are most commonly caused by eating food that is contaminated with bacteria or parasites.

Which are the most common gastrointestinal infections in children during the summer?

One of the most common infections in children during summertime is salmonellosis. It is caused by the bacterium Salmonella. The latter develops rapidly on hot days in animal source foods – eggs, meat, milk. Improper thermal processing, unwashed hands, or various mistakes in food preparation lead to an infection.

Symptoms of salmonella infection

Salmonella attacks the stomach and intestines, causing nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever. It is especially dangerous for children under 4 years of age whose immune system is still not fully developed, as well as for children with chronic diseases.

The first symptoms appear within 3 days of infection. The body usually copes with the infection relatively easily, requiring only medications that lower the temperature, antiemetics and anti-diarrheal medicines, diet and hydration. In rare cases, however, the infection is severe, spreads to other organs, and can cause enlargement of the spleen and liver, meningitis, pneumonia. Severe infection requires hospital treatment and antibiotics.

Forms of salmonellosis

There are four forms of the disease:

  • Dysenteric-like, in which diarrhea is the main symptom. Blood may also be found in the stool;
  • Typhoid, which occurs with diarrhea, fever and chills. Enlargement of the liver and spleen may be observed;
  • Influenza-like, in which inflammation of the throat is also observed;
  • Septic, which affects a number of organs and is the most dangerous form. It may cause arthritis, meningitis, otitis. The blood carries bacteria around the body, creating a risk of a toxic shock. It requires immediate hospital treatment and is difficult to treat.

Preventing infection

In order to protect your children from a salmonella infection, take extra care with the food they consume during the summer. High air temperatures increase the risk of infection. Animal source foods that have not been properly and thoroughly cooked or have been left out at room temperature are also dangerous. To prevent the disease, it is important to stick to the following rules:

  • Prepare food properly, subjecting it to thorough thermal processing.
  • Do not allow children to consume foods containing raw eggs, milk, and other animal products such as homemade ice cream, various mousses and creams.
  • Do not use the same utensils, dishes, cutting boards and countertops to prepare raw meat and to prepare fresh salad. Foods contaminated with salmonella can infect dishes or kitchen countertops.
  • Be extra careful about hygiene – at food preparation areas, at home, personal hygiene and the child’s hands.
  • Keep in mind that thermal processing doesn’t include microwaving – it doesn’t eliminate salmonella.
  • During summertime, serve children only hard-boiled eggs. There is a risk of undestroyed bacteria with others.
  • Teach children to keep good personal hygiene, to wash their hands properly before eating and after contact with animals.

Alleviating the symptoms of infection

If, despite taking all precautions, the child becomes infected with salmonella, the following measures can be taken to alleviate the symptoms and speed up the recovery process:

  • It is necessary to ensure adequate fluid intake to protect the child from dehydration. It may occur due to vomiting and diarrhea, and its presence complicates the condition and slows down the recovery process. The best liquids in this case are water and saline solutions;
  • Keep in mind that sugar promotes the growth of microorganisms, and so you should avoid sugary foods and those that contain glucose. Fructose should also be limited. This includes sweet drinks such as juice and punch;
  • Ensure a proper diet of light meals for your child that has been recommended by your pediatrician.

Be sure to consult a pediatrician who will provide useful advice and decide on proper treatment, depending on the condition of the child and the presence or absence of chronic diseases.

The article is informative and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical consultation.

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