The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated Salmonella species as one of the “Big Six” microorganisms that can cause severe foodborne illnesses. There are two kinds of Salmonella – Typhoid species and non-Typhoidal Salmonella species. This brief focuses on Salmonella typhi and the typhoid fever disease it causes. Although not common in industrialized countries, food workers should be aware of this dangerous foodborne pathogen.
About Salmonella Typhi
Salmonella typhi(S. typhi)is common in developing countries and may infect travelers that return to industrialized countries.
S. typhi strains are only found in the intestinal tract and bloodstream of infected humans, not other animals.
Approximately 5,700 cases of typhoid fever are diagnosed in the U.S. annually; 75% occur in individuals that have traveled to developing countries.
S. typhi is transmitted person to person if food or water that has been contaminated with fecal matter is consumed. An infected food handler that does not wash his or her hands after using the toilet and then prepares food may contaminate that food. Transmission may also occur via an infected person’s blood.
S. typhi infection can also be transmitted through foods that are exposed to raw sewage or irrigation water that is contaminated and used in produce-growing areas. While shellfish are not hosts for this bacteria, they can be a vehicle for transmission if harvested in waters contaminated with untreated sewage.
The incubation period of typhoid fever, the infection caused by S. typhi, can range from 3-60 days, but symptoms usually develop within 2 weeks after exposure. Typhoid fever symptoms include the rapid onset of: a high fever up to 104°F, headache, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, rose-colored spots on the abdomen, and loss of appetite.
Some people can be carriers of S. typhi without symptoms and shed the bacterium in their feces periodically.
A vaccine is available to persons traveling to countries where typhoid fever is common.
Keep Your Operations & Customers Safe
Have an employee wellness policy, including screening for new/conditional employees, to exclude any employees with symptoms or diagnosis of typhoid fever.
Have supplier approval programs that verify suppliers are monitoring produce growers for Good Agricultural Practices; have HACCP and intervention programs to reduce and prevent food contamination from untreated sewage; are properly treating water used in processing; have trace-back capabilities; and are in compliance with all federal and local regulations.
At the location level, have in place the following preventive measures: HACCP plans and Standard Operating Policies (SOPs) for produce washing, personal hygiene, proper glove use, prevention of cross-contamination, and sanitation.
Mandate strict no bare-hand contact of ready-to-eat foods for all food handlers.
Follow-up on any customer foodborne illness claims without delay. Report multiple reports to your health department so outbreaks can be investigated as quickly as possible.
3 Must-Know Facts for Location Employees
Wash hands thoroughly, especially after using the restroom. Pay special attention to scrubbing fingernails, between fingers, and wrists.
If you display any symptoms of typhoid fever, especially if you have recently traveled to a developing country, or are diagnosed with Salmonella typhi infection or typhoid fever, inform your manager immediately and cease working with food.
Use gloves, tongs, or deli paper to prevent bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat-foods