(Salt Lake City) – Utah public health officials, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and several other states are investigating a multi-state outbreak associated with a rare Salmonella strain.
Many of those affected by this outbreak report consuming kratom in pills, powder, or tea. To date, 40 cases have been reported in 27 states with 14 hospitalizations and no deaths. Two cases have occurred in Utah residents, both of whom report consuming kratom before illness onset. One purchased the kratom online, and the other purchased kratom at a local smoke shop. Leftover kratom purchased online tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella. Additional kratom products purchased in Utah and in North Dakota have also tested positive for Salmonella.
Kratom is a plant native to Southeast Asia that is consumed for its stimulant effects and as an opioid substitute. It is also known as Thang, Kakuam, Thom, Ketom, and Biak. No common brands or suppliers of kratom products have been identified at this time. Due to this, the CDC is recommending against consuming kratom in any form because it could be contaminated with Salmonella and make people sick.
According to the FDA, there are currently no FDA-approved therapeutic uses of kratom, and the FDA recommends against the use of kratom or any compounds found in the plant for any medicinal purposes, including as a treatment for opioid use disorder. The use of kratom is associated with serious side effects such as seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms.
“People should talk to their healthcare provider before taking any supplement, especially if they are in a group more likely to get a severe Salmonella infection,” says Dr. Angela Dunn, UDOH State Epidemiologist. These groups include:
- People with weakened immune systems, including people who are receiving chemotherapy or have HIV
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5 years
- Older adults
“You should also contact your healthcare provider if you think you got sick from consuming kratom,” says Dr. Dunn. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 12-72 hours after exposure to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may result in a blood infection where the bacteria spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
For more information on Salmonella infection, visit https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/.
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