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Pathologists and bacteriologists can check the presence of salmonella as many of the bacterial strains produce hydrogen sulfide, which can be detected by growing the bacteria in a ferrous sulfate growing medium. (See Reference 1 and 3) The bacteria have a similar look and behavior to the bacteria belonging to the Escherichia genus. (See Reference 1) Salmonella is present in the normal flora of cold blooded as well as warm blooded animals, and this also includes humans. In addition, in the environment, the bacteria can live for very long without, regardless of the climatic conditions. (See Reference 1)
Since salmonella bacteria have a wide range of economic impact on the food industry, a lot of research is being done on the bacteria. Bacteriologists and researchers spend a lot of time trying to understand the etiology of salmonella bacteria.
Salmonella are gram negative rod shaped anaerobic bacteria that belong to the Enterobacteriaceae family. (See Reference 2) These bacteria can thrive in the presence of oxygen, or it can also resort to fermentation when oxygen is not present. (See Reference 3) Such bacteria are known as facultative anaerobic bacteria. (See Reference 3) These bacteria do not form spores, and have a diameter ranging from 0.7 to 1.5 µm, and length ranging from 2 to 5 µm. (See Reference 3)
Usually, the bacteria are present in the intestines of humans and animals. In some species, the bacteria can be present in the intestinal tract without causing any symptoms, while in others it can lead to a whole range of symptoms that can be mild, moderate or severe. In humans, the bacteria are primarily responsible for causing salmonellosis, which is a foodborne infection. (See Reference 2) Generally, people get salmonella by consuming contaminated food, or drinking contaminated water.
Many people assume that salmonella can just infect people. However, the bacteria are zoonotic, or it can travel from humans to animals, and vice versa. (See Reference 1) That is why it is important that proper hygiene methods are adopted to prevent the spread of the bacteria. Salmonella is naturally present on the skin of turtles and tortoises. Hence, after touching or handling a pet turtle, hands should be washed properly using soap and water. (See Reference 1) The same is also true for hamsters, chicks and ducklings.
Even year in the US, 142,000 people fall sick with salmonella infection due to consumption of raw eggs. Out of these, 30 people tend to succumb to the infection. (See Reference 1) However, salmonella bacteria can also be present in other foods, such as meat, poultry, raw milk, fruits, vegetables and cheeses made from raw milk. Even processed foods can contain salmonella if contamination occurs during the production stage. Drinking contaminated water can also lead to salmonella infection. (See Reference 1)
While the multiplication of the bacteria can be stemmed through refrigeration, it does not kill them. The only way to prevent foodborne salmonella infection is through proper and thorough cooking of the food and using hygienic measures to handle and prepare food.
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2. Britannica.com: Salmonella
3. Wikipedia: Salmonella