CDC warns of salmonella infections traced to kratom

Image of the opioid substitute kratom

The CDC linked an outbreak of Salmonella infections to kratom an herbal supplement that is used as an opioid substitute. Source

Cases have been reported in California, Oregon, Utah and Arizona, the agency reported Tuesday, but no one has yet fallen ill in Nevada.

The CDC is now conducting an investigation into the outbreak, which has hit people in California, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New York, and other states. 11 people nationwide have been hospitalized. "FDA is concerned that kratom, which affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine, appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence", the alert reads.

The bad news about kratom continues with the CDC's announcement, which says a nationwide bout of salmonellosis, or salmonella infections, may be related to it. Twenty-eight people from 20 states across the country had come down with same strain of salmonella as of February 16, according to the CDC.

Now, the CDC is urging Americans to steer clear of all forms kratom which they say is the culprit in salmonella infections in 20 states. The Food and Drug Administration has issued increasingly urgent warnings about the herb, saying it acts like an opioid drug and advising people to stay away from it.

Kratom is marketed as a plant-based supplement to treat pain, anxiety and depression but its similarities to opioids have raised concerns that it can be addictive and unsafe.

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Symptoms of a salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. The CDC hasn't tracked the infections back to a single brand or supplier yet. Eight of 11 sick people interviewed had consumed kratom, the announcement says, leading the CDC to believe that supplies of the supplement may have been contaminated.

These products are made from the eponymous plant.

"Kratom is a plant native to southeast Asia that is consumed for its stimulant effects and as an opioid substitute", according to the CDC notice.

But because there are no FDA-approved uses of the substance, the agency can do nothing more than warn the public. In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration tried to classify kratom in the same category as heroin but backed off after an intense public backlash.

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