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Asian herb kratom suspected as source of salmonella outbreak

22 February 2018

The herbal opioid substitute kratom has been linked to 28 salmonella infections in the USA, the CDC warned today. But genetic testing links the cases that have been reported.

Kratom is an unregulated supplement that people use as an opioid substitute and a stimulant.

The kratom plant's leaves can be made into a tea, chewed, smoked or ingested in pill form.

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The CDC's announcement comes two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released detailed information about 36 people who died after taking kratom and declared that the product likely contains opioids.

"The extensive scientific data we've evaluated about kratom provides conclusive evidence that compounds contained in kratom are opioids and are expected to have similar addictive effects as well as risks of abuse, overdose and, in some cases, death", FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

Kratom is marketed as a plant-based supplement to treat pain, anxiety and depression but its similarities to opioids have raised concerns that it can be addictive and risky. "We appreciate the cooperation of companies now marketing any kratom product for human consumption to take swift action to remove these products from circulation to protect the public".

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No manufacturer, brand or supplier of kratom-containing products has been named in relation to this outbreak as of yet, but the FDA and CDC are working to identify the source.

Beginning in October, at least 28 people with salmonella infections have reported that they consumed kratom - in capsule, powder or tea forms - prior to developing symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and chills. The agency has received reports concerning the safety of kratom, including deaths that are potentially associated with it. It is not an FDA-approved drug. Kratom advocates claim that the herbal supplement may be used to help opioid addicts get through withdrawal symptoms in weaning themselves off the powerful painkillers.

In 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration touched off a firestorm when it announced that on an emergency basis it was going to unilaterally classify ingredients in the supplement as a Schedule I drug.

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Asian herb kratom suspected as source of salmonella outbreak