The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that salmonella bacteria cause approximately 1.2 million illnesses in the United States annually. Of this number, about 23,000 people are hospitalized. Approximately 450 individuals die from died nationally from salmonella infections. Typically, these are older people, infants, and individuals with compromised immune systems. Antibiotics historically have been effective at treating salmonella. However, in the summer of 2019, the CDC reported for the first time that a drug-resistant strain of salmonella was infecting people in the United States.
CDC Data on Drug-Resistant Salmonella
The majority of people in the United States who contract salmonella recover without taking an antibiotic. In those cases in which an antibiotic is necessary to treat the illness, azithromycin has been the medication of choice. Azithromycin historically was virtually 100 percent effective in treating salmonella. Evidence that this was not necessarily going to be the case going forward into the future became apparent in the summer of 2019.
By August of 2019, 250 confirmed cases of drug-resistant salmonella were reported to the CDC. Of that number, 60 people were hospitalized. The hospitalization rate was well above that of standard salmonella treatable with antibiotics. As of the end of August 2019, two people had died from drug-resistant salmonella.
The CDC additionally reported that drug-resistant salmonella has already been found in 32 states. The country’s top health agency expects drug-resistant salmonella to be discovered in all of the contiguous states, if not Hawaii and Alaska as well.
An initial investigation revealed that nearly half the people in infected had recently been in Mexico. Further investigation revealed that these individuals likely had contracted salmonella after eating soft cheese in Mexico, a product that is fairly regularly shipped into the United States for sale as well. Further investigation revealed that individuals also were contracting drug-resistant salmonella from beef raised in the United States.
The CDC warns that drug-resistant salmonella is likely to be found in other food products in the future. It is also possible that drug-resistant will be found in rodent droppings. Rat and mouse droppings do carry salmonella bacteria with some regularity. These droppings end up in food item, ultimately being consumed by humans. Indeed, it is possible that the contaminated soft cheese and beef were contaminated by salmonella via contact with rat droppings.
Treating Drug-Resistant Salmonella
As mentioned previously, azithromycin is the medication most commonly used to treat a salmonella infection. Because it is not effective in treating the superbug form of salmonella, healthcare professionals are attempting to find an alternative. In the meantime, people are being hospitalized with a salmonella infection. They are being provided medications to deal with the symptoms as the infections its course, which it oftentimes does do.
Drug resistant salmonella is more apt to spread to other people because it is not readily treatable. As a consequence, more people are expected to become infected with this type of salmonella in the immediate future.
Food Preparation in Light of the Discovery of Drug Resistant Salmonella
The CDC reiterated steps that need to be taken when it comes to food preparation in order to project against the spread of drug-resistant salmonella. In this regard, it is important to note that these recommendations apply to preventing all types of salmonella.
At the present time, the CDC recommends not eating soft cheese. The agency advises that soft cheese, particularly from Mexico, may be made with unpasteurized milk. When it comes to the preparation of beef, the agency advises that steaks and roasts need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Steaks and roasts rest for three minutes after cooking to the recommended temperature. Hamburger needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rodent Droppings and Drug-Resistant Salmonella
As noted earlier, the possibility exists that rodent droppings may now be carrying drug-resistant salmonella. Rodent droppings do oftentimes carry salmonella (as well as other types of germs).
Not only do people need to take care in regard to the manner in which the use and prepare food items like soft cheese and beef, they also need to be cautious when it comes to dealing with rodent droppings. People need to avoid direct contact with rodent droppings. A person should only have contact with rodent droppings when wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, including gloves, eyewear, mask or respirator, and a smock or uniform. In addition, if they suspect that a food item has been contaminated by rodent droppings, the need to safely dispose of it.
If a home or business has experienced a rodent infestation, droppings and other waste left in the aftermath must be disposed of safely and thoroughly. The recommended course is for a home or business owner to engage the services of a professional rodent droppings cleanup company.