October 21, 2018

CDC: Antibiotic Resistance a Looming Health Threat in 2014

Antibiotic resistance is one of the top five public health threats looming in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 2 million Americans are sickened with antibiotic-resistant infections every year, some as a result of food poisoning.

AntibioticsDrug-resistant non-typhoidal Salmonella strains, or Salmonella strains other than Typhi, Paratyphi A, Paratyphi B, and Paratyphi C, are considered by the CDC to be a “serious” health threat. About 8 percent of cases from these strains, or 100,000 of the 1.2 million annual U.S. cases of food poisoning from non-typhoidal Salmonella, are antibiotic resistant.

Antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella cause infections that are more severe, more likely to require hospitalization and less likely to be treated effectively than strains that are susceptible to drugs. Two 2013 multi-state Salmonella outbreaks are good illustrations of the severity of illness caused by drug-resistant Salmonella. Both were caused by the same product, Foster Farms chicken.

More than 500 people were sickened in the Foster Farms two outbreaks. The first, which ended in July 2013, sickened 134 people in 13 states, hospitalizing 33 of them. The outbreak was caused by multiple strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, some of which were resistant to multiple antibiotics including amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, ampicillin, and ceftriaxone.

The second outbreak, which began in October and is still ongoing, had sickened 416 people in 23 states at the time of the CDC’s most recent update on December 19. Seven strains of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella have been identified in this outbreak. The strains have shown resistance to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, gentamicin, kanamycin, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, and tetracycline.

The typical hospitalization rate for Salmonella is 20 percent. For this outbreak, about 40 percent of the case patients were so sick they needed to be hospitalized, including a child who required brain surgery for complications from the Salmonella infection. This may be because the bacteria were resistant to antibiotics, were very virulent, or were present on the product in very large numbers.

Foster Farms did not issue a recall in either outbreak, although some retailers pulled the product from store shelves after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a consumer health alert in October. This week, the USDA closed one of the Foster Farms facilities associated with the outbreak for cockroach infestation.




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