According to the BBC, a new strain of deadly Salmonella may have emerged in the wake of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. An epidemic of a deadly strain of Salmonella has swept across the whole of Africa by “taking advantage” of the spread of HIV, according to an international team of researchers. Their study, published in Nature Genetics, is the first to identify the separate cases as a single epidemic. One in four people in Africa infected with the strain died.
It is thought to be the first time a single strain of an infection has spread so widely in the wake of HIV.Dr Melita Gordon, a gastro-enterologist at the University of Liverpool, said: “It’s the first time this has been described right across a continent in such an obvious way.” She added: “The highest mortality associated with the disease is 80%. What’s happened over the years is mortality has fallen down and down and down to between 20% and 25% as doctors inside Africa recognise it.”
The genetic analysis also showed the strain was resistant to the first choice antibiotic, chloramphenicol, which means more expensive drugs would be needed to treat the infection.
It is thought that improving HIV treatment across Africa could reduce the prevalence of the Salmonella infection, as it would reduce the number of people with vulnerable immune systems. However, the researchers urged “vigilance” in case the Salmonella strain mutated again to become able to infect people with healthy immune systems.
Another issue is that drug-resistant HIV has been increasing in parts of sub-Saharan Africa over the last decade, according to experts writing in the Lancet, which makes HIV treatment more difficult and salmonella a huge threat.