Salmonella Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

Salmonella is one of the most common foodborne illnesses in the United States, causing approximately 1.35 million infections yearly.

Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) is commonly spread by fecal-oral transmission. Humans often get infected after eating foods contaminated with feces from an infected animal. People with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

This article highlights important facts and statistics you should know about salmonella.

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Salmonella Overview

Salmonella is a highly contagious group of bacteria that produce a foodborne illness called salmonellosis. The bacteria are commonly found in the feces of people or animals. It is often spread to humans by food handlers who do not adequately wash their hands or sanitize kitchen tools between food preparation. Salmonellosis can also be caused by direct contact with animals that carry salmonella bacteria.

Symptoms of salmonella tend to develop within 12–72 hours of infection and last between four to seven days. Although symptoms can vary from person to person, the most common ones include fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

In some cases, the following severe symptoms may develop:

Most people fully recover without treatment. However, in rare cases, the infection may spread to the bloodstream and other areas of the body. In these cases, salmonella can be fatal unless treated with antibiotics.

How Common Is Salmonella?

There are around 1.35 million cases of salmonellosis in the United States each year, with 26,500 resulting in hospitalizations and 420 being fatal.

However, the actual number of cases each year is likely much higher than reported. It is believed that for every case confirmed by laboratory testing, nearly 30 other cases are not reported.

Salmonella tends to be more frequently diagnosed in the summer months.

According to one report, there has been a decline in salmonellosis cases in the United States over the 20-year span between 1998 and 2017.

Salmonella by Ethnicity

We do not have solid data to show how salmonella affects people of various ethnicities. This is primarily due to missing information and reporting inconsistencies in current data.

However, one 2022 review suggests that individuals of low socioeconomic status and minority ethnic groups experience higher rates of foodborne illnesses.

Data from 2019 suggests that Hispanics are more likely to be infected with salmonella bacteria. It is important to note that data slightly differs yearly and has not consistently proven this.

Salmonella by Age and Gender

Salmonella can affect people of all ages and genders. According to a study, salmonellosis is more common in women than men in mid- to older age groups. Researchers suggest this may be due to food preparation exposures, and women often eat more fresh produce than men.

Children younger than 5 years old are most likely to get salmonellosis. Children younger than 12 months who are not breastfed are more likely to get a salmonella infection. Infants and adults over 65 are more likely to have a severe infection.

Causes and Risk Factors of Salmonella

Common causes of salmonella infection include:

  • Consuming raw or undercooked meat or egg products
  • Eating raw fruits and vegetables
  • Drinking raw or unpasteurized milk
  • Contact with high-risk animals such as chickens, cattle, goats, dogs, cats, and turtles
  • Improper hand washing after using the restroom and during food preparation
  • Not washing fruits and vegetables before consuming them

People with a weakened immune system from medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, liver disease, or kidney disease are more likely to have a severe case that may require antibiotic treatment.

Those who take antacids are at a higher risk because they lower the acidity in the stomach, allowing the bacteria to survive.

What Are the Mortality Rates for Salmonella?

The estimated mortality rate for most forms of salmonellosis is less than 1%. It is rarely fatal in healthy individuals. However, in a nursing home or hospital, outbreaks that involve at-risk populations, the mortality rate can be as much as 70 times higher.

Understanding Survival Rates

Survival rate is the percentage of people who survive a disease such as cancer for a specified amount of time. It may be presented in several different ways.


Salmonella infections are widespread in the United States. While anyone can be infected with salmonella bacteria, in most cases, adults over the age of 65, infants, and people with a compromised immune system are most likely to have a severe infection. Most salmonella infections get better without treatment within four to seven days. However, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics if you have a weakened immune system, persistent infection, or an infection that entered your bloodstream.

A Word From Verywell

Although salmonella infections are declining across the United States, many people still fall ill from this preventable condition each year. You can reduce your risk of salmonellosis by practicing good hand hygiene, cooking foods thoroughly, and disinfecting areas where contaminants may be present. If you have salmonella and your symptoms persist or seem to get worse instead of better, contact your healthcare provider for proper evaluation and treatment.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. United States Food and Drug Administration. Salmonella.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella: Diagnosis and treatment.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella and food.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella: Information for healthcare professionals and laboratories.

  6. United States Department of Agriculture. Roadmap to reducing salmonella.

  7. Tierney R. Examining health disparities related to foodborne illnesses across racial and ethnic groups. Thesis, Georgia State University. doi:

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FoodNet Fast.

  9. Boore AL, Hoekstra RM, Iwamoto M, Fields PI, Bishop RD, Swerdlow DL. Salmonella enterica infections in the united states and assessment of coefficients of variation: a novel approach to identify epidemiologic characteristics of individual serotypesPLoS One. 2015;10(12):e0145416. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145416

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella: Questions and Answers.

  11. Iowa State University. Salmonellosis.

By Lindsey DeSoto, RD, LD
Lindsey Desoto is a registered dietitian with experience working with clients to improve their diet for health-related reasons. She enjoys staying up to date on the latest research and translating nutrition science into practical eating advice to help others live healthier lives.