"Hypervirulent" strain of common holiday illness bug salmonella discovered


US researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara have discovered a particularly virulent form of the salmonella bacteria, which are 100-times more capable of causing holiday illness.


Salmonella bacteria are one of the main causes of holiday illness and researchers are trying to find ways of beating “hypervirulent” strains of the bacteria.

The have found that drug-resistant strains of salmonella behave like “Trojan Horse” bacteria because they appear to be like less dangerous salmonella bacteria and only reveal their potential dangers once they have caused infections.

Holiday illness involving sickness and diarrhoea is commonly caused by salmonella bacteria, which is widely present but can become a problem in undercooked chicken and beef, diary produce like eggs and unpasteurised cheese and milk.

Salmonella is commonly found in the digestive tracts of animals and salmonella bacteria can also be present in water which can become contaminated from animal faeces.

Salmonella can also be present in fruit and vegetables grown in infected soil or washed in infected water.

The researchers say that now they have managed to encourage the more virulent strain of salmonella bacteria to expose its “weapons” in the laboratory, research can begin on finding a treatment for drug-resistant salmonella.

Lead researcher Douglas Heithoff said:

“Now that we have identified the problem – and potential solutions – we just need to get to work.”

The US is used to coping with outbreaks of salmonella, but the team at Santa Barbara says that the number of salmonella infections could eventually place too much pressure on the US public health system.

There are 100 cases of salmonella infection in the US currently, spread across 20 states. Salmonella is the most common food-related illness in the US.

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