Egg Recall: Do You Have Salmonella Poisoning?

Jeanne Sager

egg recallWith the number of recalled eggs now at half a billion, the number of Americans with salmonella lurking in their fridge is on the rise.

You don't have to be a hypochondriac to be a little jumpy these days.

Every time the tummy turns over, even the best of us start wondering if those eggs were a little too runny.

But breakfast is supposed to be a good start to the day, so The Stir checked with Dr. Sheila Sudhakar, an internal medicine physician with Cigna Medical Group, to find out when we should worry -- and how to set our minds at ease.

What are the signs of salmonella poisoning?

The main symptoms of salmonella include nausea, vomiting, fevers, diarrhea, and cramping usually within 8 to 72 hours of ingesting contaminated food or water. If you've ingested a higher dose of the bacteria, that will be reflected in the severity of symptoms, which could include increased diarrhea and a longer symptom duration overall.

How serious is it?

Most cases are mild and patients can even be asymptomatic. The vast majority of cases are undiagnosed since it is self-limiting. Less than 5 percent of cases become bacteremic (where the bacteria gets into the bloodstream). Generally, fever will go away within 48 to 72 hours and diarrhea within 4 to 10 days.

Should you go to the hospital? Call your doctor?

If diarrhea or fever persists for more than 5 days, you should call your doctor. And it’s important to watch for signs of dehydration.

How can we prevent it -- in light of the egg recall?

You can prevent salmonella poisoning (salmonellosis) by practicing good food safety. This can be achieved by doing the following:

  • Do not eat raw eggs.
  • Avoid food that contains raw eggs (such as cookie dough, Caesar salad dressing, some custards, etc.).
  • Make sure your chicken is cooked thoroughly (chicken should not be pink after being cooked).
  • Ensure you prevent cross contamination by using separate cookware when preparing raw chicken and cooked products.
  • Wash your hands before dealing with cooked food.

Do we have to throw out our eggs?

I would suggest calling your local grocer and asking where they get their eggs. If they are from a contaminated source, I would suggest the eggs be thrown out to be on the safe side. You can also check the Food and Drug Administration's website, which offers detailed information about which shell eggs are associated with the recall.

Where else should we be looking for salmonella?

Salmonella is a very common bacteria. It's present on poultry, sometimes in beef and pork, and may be present in eggs and unpasteurized dairy products. The bacteria can be in a wide variety of animal droppings including mammals (dogs, cats, cows, sheep), reptiles (turtles, iguanas, snakes), and birds (chickens, turkeys, and wild birds). Salmonella may also be present in untreated stream water.

Are you worried about salmonella?


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