A lethal strain of salmonella that’s resistant to at leastnine antibiotics is spreading rapidly across the US. Representative Henry Waxman, D-CA, says multi-drug-resistant salmonella Newport is a “growing and serious threat,” and has sent a warning letter to the Dept. of Agriculture.

Salmonella can be caught from improperly stored food and rawchicken. It’s found on dairy farms and lives in undercookedhamburger and cheese made from unpasteurized milk. It causesdiarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, bloody stools and vomiting,and is most dangerous to very young children, the elderlyand those with other illnesses.

Last year, at least seven outbreaks affected more than 100people. This year, 129 people have become sick, and one, aNew York leukemia patient, died after the salmonella causeda massive bloodstream infection.

Salmonella Newport accounts for about 10% of the estimated1.4 million U.S. cases of salmonella poisoning each year.26% of salmonella Newport bacteria are multi-drug resistant,up from 1% in 1998, according to the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention.

This may be due to the practice, among ranchers, ofroutinely giving antibiotics to calves to prevent infectionand promote growth. Poultry are fed antibiotic-laced feed aswell.

Patricia Griffin, chief of the Foodborne DiseasesEpidemiology Section at the CDC, says salmonella Newport cantransfer its antibiotic resistance to other types ofbacteria, meaning that antibiotics could become ineffectiveagainst all infections and we would be thrown back, as faras medicine is concerned, into the 19th century.

What other dangers are lurking in our food? To find out,read ?Eating in the Dark? by KathleenHart,click here.

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