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Sick in salmonella outbreak linked to kratom, CDC says

Sick in salmonella outbreak linked to kratom, CDC says

The CDC, which urges consumers to not use kratom in any form because of the possibility of salmonella contamination, said the infections started in October and have affected 20 states.

As it has made its way to the USA, kratom has gained a reputation as an opioid alternative to help people wean themselves off of the unsafe and addictive drugs with milder withdrawal symptoms, but there have not been clinical studies to prove this.

It said 11 people were sick enough to have been hospitalized.

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 unsafe. The American Kratom Association, which promotes access to the herb, is launching an online campaign this week, using the slogan #IamKratom, to increase support. Most of the people sickened have reported consuming kratom in pills, powder or tea, according to the CDC, which didn't name any specific brands or suppliers.

"You can get the infection from a variety of sources, including eating contaminated food or drinking water, touching infected animals and not washing your hands", the Washington Department of Health wrote in a release.

CDC stated in an announcement that epidemiologic evidence points to use of kratom, which is also known as Thang, Kakuam, Thom, Ketom, and Biak. Due to the reporting time lag, more cases of illness may be reported, the CDC said. (In fact, Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food poisoning.) Symptoms include fever, cramps, and diarrhea. "In addition to this outbreak, kratom is an opioid; expected to have similar risk of addiction, abuse and death".

The Drug Enforcement Administration is looking at a strong restriction on the sales of kratom, which is now traded freely on the internet and in some stores.

Kratom products are very loosely regulated by the FDA.

Kratom is widely available on the internet and is sold in some head shops, gas stations and corner grocery stores.

Earlier this month, the FDA linked kratom to 44 deaths since 2011.

The DEA wants to place kratom on a Schedule 1 list of illegal drugs, in the same category as heroin. The agency noted that their investigation into the outbreak is ongoing.

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