March 29, 2017

University of Texas Develops Oral Salmonella Vaccine

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston have developed an oral vaccine against Salmonella bacteria. The article is published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. Researchers at that facility have developed potential vaccines against Salmonella Typhimurium, but that vaccine was given as an injection.

Salmonella Bacteria

An oral vaccination is much simpler to give to patients. And it uses the same pathway that the bacteria took to enter the body. Dr. Ashok Copra, UTMB professor of microbiology and immunology said, “In the current study, we analyzed the immune responses of mice that received the vaccination by mouth as well as how they responded to a lethal dose of salmonella. We found that the orally administered vaccines produced strong immunity against salmonella, showing their potential for future use in people.”

There is no vaccine currently available for this type of foodborne illness. Salmonella infections are treated with antibiotics.  Since some strains of the bacteria are quickly developing antibiotic resistance, a vaccine would be most effective in preventing foodborne illness.

The CDC estimates that about 1.4 million people are sickened with Salmonella infections every year in the United States. At least 15,000 people are hospitalized, and 400 people die every year from this infection.

There have been a number of Salmonella outbreaks in the United States in the past year. A Salmonella Poona outbreak linked to imported cucumbers sickened at least 900 people in 40 states. Salmonella Muenchen and Salmonella Kentucky in raw sprouts sickened at least 25 people last summer. And a Salmonella Oslo outbreak linked to Persian cucumbers sickened 14 people in 8 states in the spring of 2016, but that outbreak was not reported to the public until this year.

The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that may be bloody. Symptoms usually begin about 12 to 72 hours after the person ingests contaminated food. Most people recover on their own without medical treatment, but some must be hospitalized because their illnesses is so serious. And infections are greatly underreported. The multiplier that officials use for this outbreak is 30.3. That means that for every person who sees a doctor and has a lab confirmed case of salmonellosis, thirty others go unreported.

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