Salmonella Food Poisoning Could Permanently Damage DNA

Research at Cornell University, published in the journal mBio by the American Society of Microbiology, has found that Salmonella food poisoning by certain serotypes may permanently damage your  cellular DNA.


Rachel Miller, a doctoral candidate in food science at Cornell, along with Dr. Martin Wiedmann, the Gellert Family Professor in Food Safety, looked at several serotypes of Salmonella that code for a toxin called cytolethal distending toxin, or S-CDT. The toxin is a virulent component for the type of Salmonella, Typhi, which causes typhoid fever. They found that serotypes Javiana, Montevideo, Oranienburg, and Mississippi also carry that genetic material.

Outbreaks Caused by These Salmonella Serotypes

Outbreaks linked to those serotypes have occurred in the United States just in the last year. In August 2016, a Salmonella Javiana outbreak sickened several consumers who ate at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Phoenix, Arizona. Pritzker Hageman attorneys represented two people sickened in that outbreak. Their clients were hospitalized because their illnesses were so serious.

In October 2016, a Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak linked to shell eggs produced by Good Earth Egg Company of Bonne Terre, Missouri sickened at least eight people in three states.

And in late 2015 and early 2016, a Salmonella Montevideo outbreak sickened at least 11 people in 9 states. That outbreak was linked to Wonderful Pistachios. Pritzker Hageman filed a lawsuit against Wonderful Pistachios on behalf of a Minnesota man who got sick after eating that company’s product.

DNA Damage

We know that Salmonella infections can cause long-term complications such as Reiter’s Syndrome, which causes reactive arthritis. But this is the first time that DNA damage has been linked to these pathogens.

The researchers grew human cells in the lab, and then added Salmonella strains with S-CDT. They found hallmark signatures that indicate the presence of DNA damage.

Miller said, “Think about possible DNA damage this way: We apply sunscreen to keep the sun from damaging our skin. If you don’t apply sunscreen, you can get a sunburn – and possibly develop skin problems later in life. While not the sun, Salmonella bacteria may work in a similar way. The more you expose your body’s cells to DNA damage, the more DNA damage that needs to be repaired, and there may one day be a chance that the DNA damage is not correctly repaired. We don’t really know right now the true permanent damage from these Salmonella infections.”

Food Safety Law Firm

Pritzker Hageman law firm practices extensively in the area of food poisoning litigation. Our Salmonella lawyers have won many cases against national companies for people sickened by contaminated food. Our attorneys make sure that their clients are protected against future complications from illnesses caused by Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and Shigella bacteria.

Bad Bug Law Team


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Category: Food Poisoning
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