Salmonella bacteria are living microscopic creatures that pass from the feces of animals or people to others. Children become ill more commonly than others, reports the Belleville Courier.

Symptoms usually begin 12-72 hours after exposure and include headaches, nausea, diarrhea, fever, dehydration and abdominal cramps. Illness usually lasts 4-7 days, and most recover without treatment. Infants, children, the elderly, and people with suppressed immune systems are more likely to experience severe illness and even hospitalization.

Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonella are reported in the United States. However, because many milder cases go unreported, the actual number is estimated to be 20 to 100 times greater. An estimated 500 deaths related to reported cases occur annually.

To reduce the risk of infection thoroughly cook poultry, ground beef, and eggs before eating. Avoid eating foods or beverages that contain raw eggs or unpasteurized milk. Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have come in contact with raw meat, poultry and eggs. Wash your hands after contact with animals, including birds and reptiles, because these usually carry salmonella.