Salmonella Infected Kratom

Kratom, a controversial plant used by people as an opiate substitute and recreational drug, has been linked to a salmonella outbreak. Health officials are warning that people should avoid kratom entirely, and smoke marijuana instead. Just kidding about second part.

Kratom, an “herbal supplement,” is used in low doses as a stimulant and in high doses as a pain reliever. According to WebMD,  “Its leaves have been used for hundreds of years to relieve pain. They can be eaten raw, but more often they’re crushed and brewed as tea or turned into capsules, tablets, and liquids.” Because kratom gives users a “legal high” it has skyrocketed in popularity, though its effects are not entirely understood. And desperate for something to ease the opiate epidemic, kratom has taken on a cult like following among some people.

The CDC reports that so far, 40 people have been infected with salmonella-laced kratom in 27 states. No deaths have been reported. The Washington Post sums up the two sides in the ongoing kratom battle:

Rapidly rising in popularity, kratom is hailed as a readily available pain remedy that is safer than traditional opioids (such as oxycodone), an effective addiction withdrawal aid and a pleasurable recreational tonic. Kratom also is assailed as a dangerous and unregulated drug that can be purchased on the Internet, a habit-forming substance that authorities say can result in opioid-like abuse and death.

Regardless, your kratom is likely tainted with salmonella so stop using it, unless you’re willing to risk days worth of diarrhea.

Bacteria Making Themselves at Home in Your Reusable Bags

It’s grocery shopping day and you are ready to conquer the crowds by zipping in and out of the story with your handy list and reusable grocery bag.  Not so fast! Did you know that reusable grocery bag of yours could contain bacteria that may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially death? That’s right, the norovirus has struck again!

Bag O’ Germs?

A soccer team in Oregon recently became infected with the norovirus and experts traced it to a sick teammate’s reusable grocery bag.  The bag was in the hotel room with the sick teammate and particles of the norovirus landed on the bag, which the other teammates were then exposed to.

The virus can live on objects for a lengthy time period.  The bag in question tested positive for norovirus two weeks later.

Back in 2010, a study was conducted that tested 84 reusable bags for coliform bacteria, a category that included E. coli. The report says researchers found E. coli in seven of the bags tested. Though the risk for infection is small,  researchers also found 97 percent of the people interviewed never washed their bags.

Some have dismissed this study because it was funded by the American Chemistry Council which represents makers of disposable plastic bags, saying they may have a vested interest in showing people their reusable bags are covered in germs.

The good news is that washing these bags regularly decreases contamination by 99.9 percent. As always, proper hygiene and hand washing also dramatically decreases your chance of becoming infected.

CDC Norovirus Fact Sheet