Herbal drug kratom blamed for 20-state salmonella outbreak

Posted February 22, 2018

In a statement, the CDC said 28 people in 20 states got sick after ingesting kratom, and 11 people were sick enough to be hospitalized.

The FDA said it wants all companies making similar products to take them off the market, and urged all consumers who have kratom-containing products to stop using them and throw them away. The plant, which is native to Southeast Asia, is a legal commodity and can be purchased online. But the supplement made headlines a few weeks ago, when Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials said that kratom contains the same addictive, potentially unsafe chemicals found in opioids, and submitted a review to that effect to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Initial findings from the investigation, however, indicated that kratom is the source of the salmonella outbreak.

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Last week, the FDA released findings showing kratom acts like an opioid and can be unsafe and addictive. However, "at this time, CDC recommends that people not consume kratom in any form because it could be contaminated with Salmonella", the CDC's website states.

The federal agency had received confirmation of 28 people across 20 states with infections from Salmonella I 4, [5], 12:b:- as of February 16, according to the outbreak notice posted today. That makes definitively labeling kratom as the cause of death impossible.

Proponents of the substance say it can be used to treat chronic pain, anxiety and opioid withdrawal symptoms.

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While this concern is legitimate, there is no way to know precisely how kratom does - or doesn't - work without rigorous scientific testing, which has not yet been done. The agency has also been assessing peer-reviewed research and a growing number of adverse event reports associated with kratom use, including 44 reported deaths.

Kratom is banned in Australia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and several U.S. states (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Wisconsin).

But because there are no FDA-approved uses of the substance, the agency can do nothing more than warn the public.

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