Salmonella enterocolitis


Salmonella enterocolitis is an infection in the lining of the small intestine caused by Salmonella bacteria.

Alternative Names

Salmonellosis; Nontyphoidal salmonella 


Salmonella infection is one of the most common types of food poisoning. It occurs when you swallow food or water that contains the salmonella bacteria.

The salmonella germs may get into the food you eat (called contamination) in several ways.

You are more likely to get this type of infection if you have:

Most people with this condition are younger than 20.


The time between infection and symptoms is 8 - 48 hours. Symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. You may have signs of a tender abdomen and tiny pink spots on the skin called rose spots.

Tests that may be done include:


The goal is to make you feel better and avoid dehydration. Dehydration means your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should.

These things may help you feel better if you have diarrhea:

Give your child fluids for the first 4 to 6 hours. At first, try 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of fluid every 30 to 60 minutes.

Medicines that slow down diarrhea are usually not given because they may make the infection last longer. If you have severe symptoms, your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics.

If you take water pills or diuretics, you may need to stop taking them when you have diarrhea. Ask your health care provider.

Outlook (Prognosis)

In otherwise healthy people, symptoms should go away in 2 - 5 days, but they may last for 1 - 2 weeks.

The bacteria can be shed in the feces of some treated patients for months to a year after the infection. Food handlers who carry salmonella in their body can pass the infection to the people who eat their food.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:


Learning how to prevent food poisoning can reduce the risk of this infection.


DuPont HL. Approach to the patient with suspected enteric infection. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 291.

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 142.

Giannella RA. Infectious enteritis and proctocolitis and bacterial food poisoning. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010: chap 107.

Review Date: 5/30/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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