The New York Times reported a month ago that "Salmonella: Drug-Resistant Strain of Bacteria Gains in Africa, With High Death Rates."  Apparently, yet another new drug-resistant strain of bacteria has emerged in the last decade in Africa and is causing unusual numbers of deaths there according to British and African researchers.  The strain, a drug-resistant Salmonella, ST313, has emerged in Africa.  The strain, a variant of Salmonella typhimurium, is named ST313. Its genome was decoded by researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and researchers in Kenya and Malawi.

Salmonella normally circulates in animals and reaches humans via food poisoning. (Consumer Reports a week ago that two-thirds of the chickens it had tested had campylobacter or salmonella, though not of this new strain.)

But after sequencing the bacterial DNA found in about 50 Africans with severe infections, the researchers said the ST313 strain appeared to be mutating to circulate in humans independently of animals, as, for example, drug-resistant staph infections now do.

ST313 “has rapidly gained resistance to many of the commonly used antibiotics in the field,” said Dr. Chisomo Msefula, a researcher, and the multi-drug-resistant form seems to be becoming dominant in parts of Africa as antibiotics knock out competitors.

  • John Munsell

    Salmonella and E.coli are classified as “Enteric” bacteria, which by definition means they originate within animals’ intestines, and commonly contaminates food via fecal contamination. As we discuss drug-resistant Salmonella and E.coli, it is beneficial to discuss USDA/FSIS policy regarding the shipment of food into commerce which is laced with enteric bacteria. FSIS allows slaughter establishments to ship into commerce INTACT cuts of meat which have E.coli 0157:H7 on their exterior. Then, when further processing plants, retail meat markets, restaurants, nursing homes and hospitals further process such cuts and roasts and consumers are sickened, the full liability for the sicknesses resides strictly with the downline recipient of the previously-contaminated meat. Somehow, when the recipient of the contaminated meat opens the package and processes and cooks the meat, then these heretofore-harmless enteric bacteria magically transform themselves into lethal pathogens. FSIS then concludes that the pathogenic nature of these enteric bacteria is due to lack of diligence on the part of the downstream facility which processes the meat. When will America wake up? USDA/FSIS’ ties to the huge multi-national packers enjoys a much higher priority than the agency’s commitment to public health imperatives. If this African-based
    Salmonella reaches our shores, rest assured that the agency’s primary line of defense will be consumer education, NOT requiring slaughter plants to prevent its introduction onto dressed carcasses. John Munsell