Arizona is a bacterium, and it is a subspecies of Salmonella enterica. This bacterium usually infects reptiles; usually snakes. However on rare occasions, the bacterium can infect humans, especially infants or immune-compromised individuals.
When humans are infected, they usually display one or more of the following symptoms. Gastroenteritis, which is the painful inflammation of the lining of the intestines or the stomach, is one of the most common symptoms. Less common indicators are peritonitis, which is inflammation of the lining of the abdomen, or pleuritis, which is inflammation of the space around the cavity containing the lungs. Osteomyelitis, a painful infection of the bone, meningitis, a debilitating infection of neural tissue and bacteremia, a bacterial infection of the blood, can also be caused by the Arizona bacterium.
Salmonella, of which Arizona is a sub-species, is widely found throughout the environment. These bacteria infect both warm and cold blooded animals. They are responsible for a wide variety of diseases, misery, and many deaths. The Salmonella bacteria are a major source of food-borne illnesses, and the reason for many recalls of meat, produce, and other food products. Salmonella bacteria easily transfer between non-human and human individuals, a trait termed zoonotic. This makes these bacteria especially troublesome.
A person will ingest thousands of bacteria with each bite of a meal. In most cases, the acid within the stomach will kill these unwanted bacteria. However, when a food is contaminated, there may be so many bacteria that they overwhelm the defense provided by the stomach acid. This causes the individual to become ill, and the sickness is often referred to as Salmonella poisoning. Children, especially infants, produce less stomach acid; and consequently, are at a greater risk for Salmonella poisoning. The use of acid blockers, by individuals with gastric reflux, may also increase the risk of Salmonella disease.