Non-typhoidal Salmonella represents an important human and animal pathogen world-wide. Most human salmonellosis cases are foodborne, but each year infections are also acquired through direct or indirect animal contact in homes, veterinary clinics, zoological gardens, farm environments or other public, professional or private settings. Clinically affected animals may exhibit a higher prevalence of shedding than apparently healthy animals, but both can shed Salmonella over long periods of time. In addition, environmental contamination and indirect transmission through contaminated food and water may complicate control efforts. The public health risk varies by animal species, age group, husbandry practice and health status, and certain human subpopulations are at a heightened risk of infection due to biological or behavioral risk factors. Some serotypes such as Salmonella Dublin are adapted to individual host species, while others, for instance Salmonella Typhimurium, readily infect a broad range of host species, but the potential implications for human health are currently unclear. Basic hygiene practices and the implementation of scientifically based management strategies can efficiently mitigate the risks associated with animal contacts. However, the general public is frequently unaware of the specific disease risks involved, and high-risk behaviors are common. Here we describe the epidemiology and serotype distribution of Salmonella in a variety of host species. In addition, we review our current understanding of the public health risks associated with different types of contacts between humans and animals in public, professional or private settings, and, where appropriate, discuss potential risk mitigation strategies.
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