CDC reports kratom-related salmonella outbreak in Kansas

Posted February 22, 2018

Officials with the CDC and the FDA are investigating a multistate outbreak of salmonellosis from a rare strain of Salmonella I 4, [5], 12:b, and have recommended that individuals do not consume kratom in any form, due to a risk of contamination.

Kratom contains alkaloids which bind with the same opiate receptors in the brain that prescription and street opioid drugs do. Evidence suggests that the source of the outbreak is possibly kratom, which is a plant that is used as a substitute to opioids. It also said 11 cases involve hospitalizations, and no related deaths reported.

Laura Gieraltowski, the CDC's foodborne outbreak team lead, said it's not yet known how the kratom would have come to be contaminated with salmonella, noting it could have happened in processing, or the plants could have been contaminated in the field.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb cautioned people in general about the natural supplement in an announcement this month, saying that "There is no confirmation to show that kratom is sheltered or powerful for any medicinal utilize". "The scientific data and adverse event reports have "clearly revealed" that compounds in kratom render it more unsafe than 'just a plant'". Eight (73%) of 11 people interviewed reported consuming kratom in pills, powder, or tea. Unfortunately, that reality is being reflected in shipments of kratom products contaminated with salmonella. That makes definitively labeling kratom as the cause of death impossible.

Kratom enthusiasts say it's enjoyable to use recreationally, but say it is also useful for treating withdrawal from opioid use and can be used to treat pain.

While this concern is legitimate, there is no way to know precisely how kratom does - or doesn't - work without rigorous scientific testing, which has not yet been done.

"Kratom is not a drug", the American Kratom Association says on its website.

Kratom is banned in Australia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and several USA states (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Wisconsin). It is not an FDA-approved drug. However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) does identify kratom by a plethora of other names: Mitragyna speciosa, mitragynine extract, biak-biak, cratom, gratom, ithang, kakuam, katawn, kedemba, ketum, krathom, krton, mambog, madat, Maeng da leaf, nauclea, Nauclea speciosa, or thang.