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Food-Based Salmonella Bacteria Developing Resistance to Common Antibiotics

Jul 30, 2013

An increasingly common mutant strain of salmonella bacteria is proving to be too strong for common antibiotics.

New research from the U.K.’s University of Birmingham reveals that this strain of salmonella bacteria, which is transferred to humans through contaminated foods, is already resistant to fluoroquinolone antibiotic drugs. The study also found that this strain of the common foodborne bacteria is also proving to be too powerful for another class of antibiotics as well as the surgical cleanser triclosan, which is also found in a growing array of consumer products, such as toothpaste, deodorants, and hand soaps.

The study was conducted in conjunction with the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council in the U.K. According to a release accompanying the study findings, researchers say that this mutant strain of salmonella bacteria, “which changes DNA gyrase — the target of fluoroquinolones — in salmonella alters the structure of bacterial DNA by changing the tightness of chromosome coiling. These changes induce stress responses, which protect the bacterium and allow survival in the presence of numerous unrelated antibiotics including triclosan.”

As more antibiotics are used — especially in food production to prevent illness among livestock — the chances increase that foodborne bacteria like salmonella will develop an immunity to what was once an effective means of killing it.

For consumers, based on our previous reports, the need for strong antibiotics means that what used to be a common illness that often doesn’t require medical attention, salmonella poisoning is getting increasingly difficult to treat and requires stronger antibiotics than before.

This can also result in more severe symptoms. Our previous accounts show that salmonella poisoning usually affects children, the elderly, and people with weaker immune systems with the more severe symptoms. For many, the illness is often mistaken for food “not agreeing” with them and the symptoms eventually dissipate. Others, however, require hospitalization and treatment with antibiotics to clear the salmonella infection.

This study from the University of Birmingham indicates that salmonella infections could become more difficult to treat.

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