New Pathogen Found in Meat

The bacteria klebsiella is now associated with foodborne illnesses.


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Researchers from George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health have identified a bacteria in meat called klebsiella that potentially poses significant health dangers. Although it has not been previously linked to foodborne illnesses, klebsiella leads to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis. Researchers collected 508 meat products from nine grocery stores in Flagstaff, AZ., and found that 47 percent of the sample was contaminated with the bacterial strain, mostly in its antibiotic-resistant form. When isolated and compared to the klebsiella present in patients suffering from urinary tract and other infections, the strain was nearly identical. Dr. James R. Johnson, coauthor of the study, stated, “We tend to think of this organism as being one that individuals carry naturally, or acquire from the environment. This research suggests that we also can pick up these bacteria from the food we eat.” According to the most recent report by the Center for Disease Control, “Foodborne diseases cause about 48 million illnesses each year in the United States, of which about 9.4 million are caused by known pathogens.”