Back to basics...

Meeting with the microbes

Part 4

Good day and welcome back to the fourth part of our Meeting with the Microbes series: This month’s exclusive “autobacteriography” is with Ms. Salmonella.

Brace yourself..... you are becoming microscopic..... Honey, I shrunk the readers begins!

PART 4: Salmonella (S.) spp.

The Food Safety Network (TFSN) Reporter: Ms. Salmonella welcome to The Food Safety Network. We are most fortunate to have you here, live and exclusive on our website.

Ms. Salmonella: Thank you. I believe I am the fourth genus to grace your presence!


TFSN Reporter: Yes that’s correct, and it has no relationship to the order of your importance in the bug chain!

Ms. Salmonella: Mmmmm, I feel like an afterthought...I know Daniel Elmer Salmon, an American veterinary pathologist and Theobald Smith discovered me a few centuries ago, but I am still of high significance in the microbiological world.

TFSN Reporter: Your order of appearance on the show is of no significance to your order of importance, it was just that you have been extremely busy and your agent could only give us this date for our interview.

Ms. Salmonella: Thanks, I feel better. Yes I have been quite occupied...places to go and people to infect.

TFSN Reporter: With that, tell us more about yourself...up close and personal with Ms. Salmonella.

Ms. Salmonella: I am an Enterobacteria, rod-shaped, Gram-negative, non spore forming and generally motile.

TFSN Reporter: I believe you are closely related to the genus Escherichia?

Ms. Salmonella: (Blushing), yes E.coli and I share a close relationship...and not the one you are insinuating!

TFSN Reporter: The thought never crossed my mind. So if I ever wanted to find you, where would I search?

Ms. Salmonella: I have travelled the globe and inhabit cold and warm-blooded animals, that includes you! My favourite environment is chicken, followed by pigs, however, I can inhabit most environments including water, soil, insects, factory and kitchen surfaces, animal faeces and raw meats, poultry and seafoods.

TFSN Reporter: So you get around? Quite the philanderer?

Ms. Salmonella: (Blushing again) That’s quite bold, but you hit the nail on the head.  I can infect you from a number of sources...

TFSN Reporter: Sauces or sources?

Ms. Salmonella: Both, ha ha. Seriously, unclean food particularly in institutional kitchen and restaurants are my pet likes.  Excretions from sick or infected people also assist in my infection. Polluted surface water and water that is standing in shower hoses or unused water dispensers also assist my travels or when poultry is unhygienically defrosted.

TFSN Reporter: I believe you have a passion for reptiles too.

Ms. Salmonella: Ooohhh yes, I nearly forgot...tortoises, snakes, turtles and even crocodiles make fine transporters.

TFSN Reporter: From what you are saying it seems you have an affinity for water?

Ms. Salmonella: I can survive for several weeks in dry environments but several months in water and thus frequently inhabit water that has been polluted by the excrement of carrier animals.

TFSN Reporter: You dirty thing you! As a human, we normally become infected from foods that you contaminate, so what are your favourite foods?

Ms. Salmonella: In no order of priority, but chicken, eggs, milk and other dairy products, fish, seafood, yeast, coconut, sauces including salad dressings, cake mixes, cream-filled desserts and toppings, dried gelatine, peanut butter, cocoa and chocolate, are my favourites.

TFSN Reporter: WOW, is there any food you don’t like?

Ms. Salmonella: If the food will have me, I will contaminate and grow in it! As you said before, I get around!  

TFSN Reporter: So now that my diet is very limited...what would happen if I did consume you?

Ms. Salmonella:
Mr. TFSN Reporter, you are such a tease.  As much as I would love that, you need to understand the severity of my consumption!

TFSN Reporter: I never said I wanted too, and as tempting as you are, let’s continue...

Ms. Salmonella: Initially (6-48 hours after infection) you will suffer from nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, slight diarrhoea, fever and a headache. If you are not cured at this stage, arthritic symptoms may follow after 3-4 weeks.  

TFSN Reporter: Are you also a cheap date? What I mean is, how many of you are needed to suffer these symptoms?

Ms. Salmonella: Ha, ha...actually yes! Only 15-20 cells are required, depending on that age and health of the infected person.

TFSN Reporter: And how long do you illegally invade us?

Ms. Salmonella: Initial symptoms should only last about 2 days if I penetrate your small intestine.  

TFSN Reporter: Are you also a grim reaper?

Ms. Salmonella: Actually I am not.  Of the 2-4 million people I infect per year (while on holiday in the USA), 142 000 are infected from eating eggs contaminated with myself and others, and only about 30 die.

TFSN Reporter: Only 30?!?! Yes, I suppose you do hold the lowest mortality rate to date amongst your fellow interviewees.

Ms. Salmonella: Well, I will just have to work on those figures then.  In fact, family abroad has recently notified me that the incidence Salmonellosis has been rising.

TFSN Reporter: So eggs are a good source of protein...protein of Salmonella! Well on that eggstatic note, our Salmonella autobacteriography and part four of our Meeting with microbes Series draws to a close.

Brace yourself.... you are becoming macroscopic..... Honey, I shrunk the readers ends!

Remember small steps and you will...
Let’s rephrase are MAKING SENSE OUT OF MICRO....


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