Salmonella is a disease of the digestive tract caused by a bacterial infection. People become infected with the bacteria by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated. Typical symptoms of a salmonella infection are fever, stomach pains and diarrhea.
In most cases, salmonella infections clear up on their own in a few days. However, some doctors will prescribe a 10- to 14-day course of the antibiotic drug ciprofloxacin to be on the safe side. According to Medicinenet.com, there are two camps of doctors: one that feels antibiotics should be used to treat salmonella infections and another that prefers to let the body's natural defenses take care of it. However, people with compromised immune systems, like those with AIDS or cancer, will need antibiotics to fight off the infection.
If the salmonella bacteria enters the bloodstream, antibiotics will be required to treat the infection. Unfortunately, many of the salmonella strains that cause septicemia--or infection of the blood--are resistant to antibiotics, so your doctor will need to test the bacteria to see which antibiotics to use. For a salmonella blood infection, your doctor will most likely use one of the fluoroquinolones. However, children cannot tolerate fluoroquinolones, so a third-generation cephalosporin will most likely be used.
Besides antibiotics, it is important to know how to prevent a salmonella infection. It is important to wash your hands with hot water and soap after touching raw meat, poultry or eggs. It is also possible to contract the disease from handling animals such as reptiles and amphibians, so hand washing after touching turtles, snakes and frogs is important. There is no vaccine for salmonella, so awareness is your best weapon against it.