How Dangerous Is Salmonella for Pregnant People?

As an expecting mother, it can be overwhelming to remember all the health rules and restrictions when it comes to pregnancy. It’s hard to keep track of what to do and what not to do. Maybe you have heard not to eat sushi while you’re pregnant. It’s not even the sushi that is the problem; it’s the raw fish found in some sushi rolls that poses a risk. Pregnant women should avoid the potential of bacterial infections, like salmonella, which is most frequently contracted through raw or undercooked foods. Nobody wants food poisoning, but you especially want to avoid it while pregnant as there is a slight risk of passing infection to the developing fetus. Read more to understand ways to avoid getting salmonella and how it could affect you if contracted.

How Do You Get Salmonella?

Most cases of salmonella come through consuming foods contaminated with the harmful bacteria. Reduce the risk of infection by avoiding the following foods and beverages:

  • Raw or undercooked meats
  • Undercooked eggs (no soft or runny yolks)
  • Raw fish and shellfish
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • Unpasteurized products such as dairy products containing raw milk
  • Contaminated water (drink bottled water when traveling abroad)

You may like your eggs with a runny yolk, but while you’re pregnant opt for fully cooked food when it comes to animal products. Live animals can also carry salmonella, so be cautious when interacting with pets, farm animals, or pests, and always wash your hands afterward.

Best Practices to Prevent Salmonella

  1. Avoid eating potentially contaminated foods and cook meat to the correct internal temperatures.
  2. Thoroughly rinse fruits and vegetables before consumption.
  3. Prevent cross-contamination by maintaining a clean and sanitized cooking environment.
  4. Wash kitchen rags and sponges after use.
  5. Wash your hands frequently, especially during food prep or after exposure to animals.

How Dangerous is Salmonella During Pregnancy?

Fortunately, most cases of food poisoning are not serious, even for pregnant women. Most people have symptoms like diarrhea and stomach cramps, which pass within a few days. However, in some cases, salmonella symptoms can be more severe and require immediate medical attention. For pregnant women, there is a chance of passing the infection to the baby, which could result in long-term adverse health effects on the child. Other pregnancy complications are possible such as preterm delivery or even miscarriage. Salmonella also poses a risk to the mother and, although unlikely, it can cause death if it spreads throughout the body.

Signs of Salmonella Poisoning

Common symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea and fatigue, are prevalent in the first trimester and can mask signs of a salmonella infection. While sometimes hard to identify, here are common symptoms associated with food poisoning:

  • Stomach pain and cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fever and fever symptoms like chills and body aches

Salmonella poisoning can look like the flu virus or a stomach virus with similar symptoms. It’s also possible not to experience any symptoms, but most people will develop signs within a few days. You may not immediately feel sick after consuming the food culprit, so don’t write food poisoning off if you haven’t had anything to eat that day. If you experience a fever of 102 or more, have bloody stools, or cannot stay hydrated seek immediate medical attention.

Recovery from Salmonella Poisoning

If you are pregnant, contact your doctor if you think you may have food poisoning to get treatment advice. Most cases can be taken care of at home with the following self-care methods:

  • Drink water or clear liquids: drink fluids slowly to avoid throwing them back up. Water and sports drinks are good choices for rehydration.
  • Get rest: sleep and taking it easy is key to a quick recovery.
  • Seek medical advice: Do not take any medications to treat salmonella without talking to your doctor.

Ensure a Safe and Healthy Pregnancy

Minimize the risk of salmonella infection by practicing careful food handling and being mindful of your dietary choices. But if you think you might have food poisoning, try not to worry—instead, follow these recommendations to manage your symptoms. Should your symptoms become severe, don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional. For inquiries about your pregnancy, consult your OB/GYN.

If you have questions or concerns, visit an AFC Urgent Care near you today.