OCT 09, 2015 03:12 PM PDT

Salmonella - A Serious Threat in Africa

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
In developed countries, Salmonella is a relatively benign pathogen.  It is typically a cause of food-borne illness, resulting in diarrhea.  In sub-Saharan Africa, however, it is a leading cause of childhood illness and death, and researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand recently published a report on these invasive Salmonella infections.

Salmonella is a genus of Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria that are closely related to E. coli. Subspecies of Salmonella enterica cause Typhoid and Paratyphoid fevers, which are characterized by abdominal pain, weakness, headache, and a “rose-colored” skin rash.  A vaccine is available to prevent Typhoid fever, but it is typically not effective for Paratyphoid.  Salmonella food-poisoning, or “Salmonellosis”, is caused by Salmonella bongori, as well as subspecies of Salmonella enterica.  Patients with Salmonellosis experience diarrhea and can become severely dehydrated.    
 
Salmonella is a leading cause of childhood deaths in Africa.


The most prevalent Salmonella disease in Africa, however, is caused by invasive nontyphoidal Salmonella (NTS).  NTS infections are particularly severe because these bacteria are able to escape the gastrointestinal tract, causing swelling of the liver and spleen, respiratory issues, as well as sepsis. Gastrointestinal symptoms typically do not occur with NTS.     

The University of Otago report, edited by John Crump and Robert Heyderman, is composed of 19 publications describing the impact of NTS in sub-Saharan countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria, and South Africa.  As of 2010, there were 3.4 million cases of NTS and over 680,000 deaths worldwide.  According to Heyderman, “NTS occurs in infants and young children, particularly those with malaria and malnutrition, and in HIV-infected adults.  About 20% of those who get Salmonella blood poisoning will die”.

The group hopes this report will fuel research into vaccines and antimicrobials, as the majority of NTS strains are resistant to current antibiotics.  
 

Sources: Eurekalert, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Wikipedia
 
About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
You May Also Like
JAN 24, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 24, 2020
As Arctic Sea Ice Declines, a Deadly Virus Spreads Among Marine Mammals
Sea ice in the Arctic melts every summer and refreezes in the winter, but the melting has been outpacing the refreezing for many years....
JAN 24, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
JAN 24, 2020
A Critical Step in Ribosome Assembly is Viewed For the First Time
Proteins are critical to biology, and are generated by vital, ancient cellular structures called ribosomes....
JAN 24, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
JAN 24, 2020
Genetic platform takes the guesswork out of catching infections
A physician is faced with 3 patients: an elderly person with a chronic cough, a child being wheeled out of surgery and a young mother with a high fever. Ho...
JAN 24, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 24, 2020
Potentially Deadly Superbugs Lurk in Many Makeup Bags
New research has found that many makeup products, including mascara, lip gloss, and beauty blenders are contaminated with bacteria....
JAN 24, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 24, 2020
Neurons in the Gut Can Detect Salmonella & Protect Against Infection
Nerve cells act as critical sensors for the human body, and now scientists have found that they have another role in the small intestine....
JAN 24, 2020
Microbiology
JAN 24, 2020
Using a Cancer Drug to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Pathogens
It takes a long time for a drug to be approved for use in humans; repurposing existing drugs is one way to get around that hurdle....
Loading Comments...