EverythingDogBlog: Salmonella Poisoning* - All About It
By Skye Anderson, MS
Why is Salmonella so scary? And what is it, anyway? Have you been affected by any dog food recalls?
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella (genus name) is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium - not a virus.
Bacteria are generally larger than viruses but most are still too small to be seen by ‘the naked eye,’ without a microscope. (see photo, credit: CDC Public Health Image Library)
Viruses are not considered to be ‘alive’ because they must ‘highjack’ the replicating machinery, the DNA, of a living cell of organisms like dogs or humans, to make copies of themselves. (More precisely, a virus inserts itself into the DNA and, yes, even the DNA of a human.)
How does a dog become infected? How do you get Salmonella?
When Fido eats raw meat, meat not fully cooked, or even kibble infected with Salmonella, he may become infected himself but it may also depend on how many bacteria Fido ingests and how healthy he is (if he can ward off the ‘bad guys’ by having enough ‘good guys’ [soldiers].) The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association recommends against feeding a raw diet to help prevent the spread of Salmonella.
What you may not know is that Fido can pass Salmonella on to his human family. Such a disease is called zoonotic. Bird, reptiles and amphibians can also transmit Salmonella.
Therefore, always be sure to wash your hands, dishes, utensils, and counters thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling dog food or dishes, or poop bags, and instill this practice in your children who probably have more contact with Fido, playing fetch, dressing him up and cuddling if not sleeping in the same bed.
What are the symptoms of Salmonella?
Your dog (or you) can vomit (not unusual for dogs) and have diarrhea (more unusual) and abdominal cramps for up to a week but these symptoms may be delayed 8 hours to four days after eating the infected food, making diagnosis difficult. If diarrhea is severe, hospitalization may be necessary and if the infection spreads throughout the body, the patient may die.
Dogs may also have no appetite, may drool, be feverish and lethargic.
Salmonella may also be underreported because many mild cases are seldom reported. However, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reports 42,000 cases of Salmonella a year but this is vastly less than the actual number. Imagine, the population of a very large university. . . .
Want your own stuffed Salmonella? Better than a real Salmonella!
If you want your own Salmonella to play with (see photo, credit: Giant Microbes) and who wouldn’t, you can buy a stuffed toy that looks like the real thingathttp://www.giantmicrobes.com/us/products/salmonella.html. (Of course, the real bacterium doesn’t have eyes or a mouth like the stuffies.)
Giant Microbes has about 110 different species to choose from: I simply can’t decide which ones to get! I want an Ebola and a Typhoid, and . . . enough to use in my college biology classes for practical exams.
Cook. Cook. Cook. Wash. Wash. Wash.
*Thanks to Hills dog food company (www.hillspet.com) for pointing me in the right direction to find references and for providing much of this information.
(This blog first appeared on ColumbiaPatch.com on 28 May 2013.)
(Photos: CDC Public Health Image Library, Giant Microbes)