Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Salmonella spp

Contributor(s): Richard Walker




  • Family: Enterobacteriaceae.
  • Genus: Salmonella.


  • Genus discovered by American biologist, Theobald Smith; named after his laboratory chief and co-author, D E Salmon.

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Clinical Effects



  • Reservoir is the gastrointestinal tract of warm- and cold-blooded animals.
  • Sources of infection include:
    • Contaminated soil.
    • Vegetation.
    • Water.
    • Components of animal feeds, eg bone meal, meat meal and fish meal.
    • Foods containing milk, meat or eggs.


  • Salmonellae adhere to and invade target cells in the distal small and proximal large intestine.
  • Multiplication occurs here or in the macrophages of the liver and spleen if septicemia occurs.
  • Multiplication results in endotoxemia.


  • Fecal oral route.
  • Transovarian and egg transmission occurs in birds.
  • Infection via the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract and conjunctivae may occur, but is rare.

Pathological effects

  • Endotoxin-mediated damage to blood vessels and activation of blood clotting mechanism together with alternate complement pathway → disseminated intravascular coagulation Disseminated intravascular coagulation , eg ischemic necrosis of distal limbs, ears and tail of calves occuring some weeks after recovery from acute S. Dublin disease.
  • Salmonella fimbriae → attachment to cells of distal small intestine → disease.
  • Some strains produce exotoxins → enteritis and diarrhea Diarrhea: chronic.
  • Invasive strains → multiply within macrophage → escape destruction → septicemia.
  • The invasiveness of some strains of S. typhimurium is increased by genes carried on a virulence plasmid.


  • Normal gut flora usually inhibit growth and block access to attachment sites required (competitive inhibition); host's susceptibility to infection increased by disruption of normal flora, eg by antibiotics or deprivation of food and water.
  • Stress → decreased peristalsis → allows multiplication of organisms in intestine.
  • Major pathogens of animals.
  • Animals may be healthy excretors following infection.

Zoonotic Salmonellosis

  • Salmonellosis is an important zoonosis.
  • Contaminated food, mainly of animal origin, is the predominant source.
  • Salmonella strains cause a wide range of human enteric disease:
    • Mild self-limiting gastroenteritis.
    • Severe gastroenteritis with or without bacteremia.
    • Typhoid fever - severe, debilitating and potentially fatal.

Other Host Effects

Some of the diseases caused by Salmonella serotypes

  • Enteritis or septicemia in cattle, pigs, cats and birds.
  • Abortion in cattle, ewes and mares.
  • Meningitis Meningitis , osteomyelitis Osteomyelitis , joint ill and terminal ischemia in calves.
  • Fowl typhoid, fowl paratyphoid and other severe infections in birds may be egg transmitted.
  • SomeSalmonellaserotypes are host-adapted, eg S. typhi - humans, S. dublin - cattle, S. pullorum - birds.


Control via animal

  • Avoidance of stress helps reduce colonization of the gastrointestinal tract.

Control via chemotherapies

Control via environment

  • Salmonellosis is controlled through protocols designed to inhibit spread to susceptible animals and people.
  • Food handlers and the public should be educated in hygiene procedures and methods of cooking food.
  • Observe hygienic precautions after handling animals, and educate children to do so.
  • Adequate sanitation and supervision in abattoirs, food-processing plants, butchers' shops, etc.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Philbey A W, Mather H A, Gibbons J F et al (2014) Serovars, bacteriophage types and antimicrobial sensitivities associated with salmonellosis in dogs in the UK (1954-2012). Vet Rec 174 (4), 94 PubMed.
  • Lax A J, Barrow P A, Jones P W et al (1995) Current perspectives in salmonellosis. Brit Vet J 151 (4), 351-377 PubMed.
  • Potter M E (1992) The changing face of foodborne disease. JAVMA 201 (2), 250-253 PubMed.
  • Calvert C A (1985) Salmonella infections in hospitalized dogs - epizootiology, diagnosis and prognosis. JAAHA 21, 499.