A recent study conducted by scientists from the University of California Davis School of Medicine published online by the journal Nature Medicine found that while Salmonella usually just causes seven days of diarrhea in most people, the food-borne bacterium Salmonella can spread to the bloodstream and other major organs in people living with HIV, causing a potentially fatal condition called non-typhoidal Salmonella serotypes (NTS) bacteremia. In response to our coverage of this news and your comments about the dangers of food poisoning for people living with HIV, POZ decided to share some tips on how you can best protect yourself from Salmonella infection.

Salmonellosis, or the disease caused by Salmonella infection, has been shown to affect HIV-positive people up to 100 times more than HIV-negative people. What’s more, its effects can be more serious in HIV-positive people. Salmonella bacteria—one of the most frequently reported causes of food-borne illnesses—can enter the body through contaminated foods or liquids. Symptoms of salmonellosis include severe diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal pain and vomiting. Call your doctor if you think you have salmonellosis; go to the nearest emergency room if you are experiencing symptoms that are severe, such as extreme dizziness, fainting, sharp cramping pains or difficulty breathing.

Though there are antibiotic treatments to help treat the infection, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to lower your risk of Salmonella infection in the first place. Check out these tips:  

•    Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and after handling foods, and after using the bathroom, changing a baby’s diaper or having contact with animals.
•    When dining out, be cautious of meats and food that you don’t think are completely cooked.
•    Buy pasteurized milk, and only buy eggs in cartons that identify the supplier, making sure to check that they are not cracked or soiled. And look for pasteurized eggs (www.safeeggs.com
•    Sanitize before, during and after the cooking process. Clean your hands, counter surfaces, cutting boards and utensils that have been in contact with raw meats after each use to avoid spreading bacteria around your kitchen.
•    Know your foods that contain raw eggs, including homemade eggnog, mayo, Caesar salad dressing, cookie dough and undercooked French toast.
•    Be especially careful in the summer months at barbeques and outdoor events. Don’t leave food outside for more than an hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees.

For more tips, and to learn more about treatment options, click here to read the AIDSMeds.com lesson on bacterial diarrhea.