The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have attributed one Kansas resident’s Salmonella infection to rattlesnake pills, the CDC announced.
Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that the victim became sick after taking the pills, which were purchased in Mexico. Advanced laboratory testing – called whole genome sequencing – showed the strain of Salmonella that made the person sick matched Salmonella found in pills from Mexico collected during an earlier investigation.
Rattlesnake pills are marketed as remedies for various conditions, such as cancer, HIV, and acne. The pills contain dehydrated rattlesnake meat ground into a powder.
CDC officials recommend that you talk to your health-care provider if you are considering taking rattlesnake pills, especially if you are in a group more likely to get a severe Salmonella infection, such as:
- pregnant women
- the elderly
- people with suppressed immune systems.
One million cases annually
Salmonella sickens as many as 1 million Americans on a yearly basis, according to the CDC. Salmonellosis, which affects the intestinal tract, is one of the most common types of food poisoning.
Salmonellosis can develop anywhere from 12 hours to three days after ingestion and can last up to a week. Symptoms can include:
- abdominal pain
Rattlesnake pills in the news again
Reptiles and their meat can carry Salmonella. Previous outbreak investigations have identified rattlesnake pills as a source of Salmonellosis in humans:
- In 1994, three residents of Los Angeles County died after ingesting rattlesnake pills. At least four other people were hospitalized for Salmonellosis caused by the pills, which are known in Spanish as “polvo de vibora,” “carne de vibora,” and “vibora de cascabel.”
- In 1987, there were about 30 reported cases of Salmonellosis caused by the strain of bacteria found in rattlesnake pills.