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Farm fresh eggs, pet turtles, peanut butter and undercooked chicken pot pies -- what sinister thing do they all have in common? Each has been implicated in outbreaks of food poisoning from one of nature's most notorious pathogens -- Salmonella.

Although a mere 4 micrometers in length, this germ can have an outsized effect on human civilization when the hundreds of tons of animal feces from industrial dairies and chicken farms pollute food that ends up as pre-packaged products on your grocery shelf. One of nature's toughest germs, Salmonella can easily survive being dried out, microwaved to 140°F -- or frozen into the crushed ice of your margarita. The result is an infectious diarrhea that sickens millions each year even in developed countries like in the United States,

And that's just by accident! In 1984 a bioterrorism attack deliberately infected 11 salad bars in Oregon, causing salmonellosis in almost a thousand customers.

A few unlucky victims infected with the human-specific Salmonella typhi will go on to develop Typhoid Fever -- a disease ugly enough to deserve its own page. But for most common strains, the illness is limited to a week of crampy abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea that starts a few days after ingesting live organisms. Antibiotics can actually make it worse by wiping out your normal gut bacteria and prolonging the period of infectivity. Outbreaks of salmonella diarrhea often occurs in a restaurants, schools or nursing homes. Tests must be run on cup of warm, fresh liquid diarrhea. Needless to say, most cases remain unconfirmed.

Humans are not the only victims. The germ also easily infects reptiles, which is why the US government banned those cute orange-eared pet turtles we once found sitting miserably in pans of dirty water in every kid's bedroom. Rest easy, reptile friends, the FDA is watching out for you!

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