U.S – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken a proactive step in addressing a growing public health concern by publishing a new webpage dedicated to a persistent, multidrug-resistant strain of Salmonella Infantis known as REPJFX01.

This strain has been at the center of numerous illnesses and outbreaks, defying conventional prevention efforts and causing long-term health risks.

The recently unveiled webpage provides vital information on the occurrences, sources, and laboratory data related to REPJFX01-induced illnesses. Of particular concern is the association of chicken with foodborne REPJFX01 infections, making it a leading strain of Salmonella found in domestically produced chicken in the U.S.

Remarkably, cases of REPJFX01 infection have been reported since 2012, and as of December 31, 2022, PulseNet has received information on 2,900 patients affected by this strain.

More than 1,000 food and environmental isolates obtained through FDA sampling programs, including many samples from retail chicken products, are highly related to REPJFX01 isolates by whole genome sequencing (WGS), despite the fact that data from FDA samples haven’t always been submitted to PulseNet.

Since 2019, CDC has used the PulseNet system to identify and monitor REP strains of several major pathogens, including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria, and Campylobacter.

PulseNet uses a combination of different WGS tools for identifying and tracking these strains and will develop more as new strains are identified and investigated.

The webpage also highlights the investigation of seven REPJFX01 outbreak incidents, two of which have been directly linked to chicken consumption.

A striking aspect of REPJFX01 is its genetic diversity, as revealed by whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis. The bacteria within this strain differ by 82 allele positions per core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST), a significantly higher level of diversity than typically seen in multistate foodborne outbreaks, where bacteria usually vary by only 10 allele positions.

Furthermore, REPJFX01 presents an additional challenge due to its resistance to multiple antimicrobials. Most concerning is its resistance to first-line or alternative treatment options, such as ampicillin, ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

This antimicrobial resistance further complicates efforts to effectively combat the infections caused by this persistent Salmonella strain.

With such alarming trends, health authorities are urging heightened vigilance in handling and preparing chicken and other potential sources of REPJFX01 infections.

Additionally, further research and surveillance will be crucial in understanding the complexities of this persistent strain and developing effective strategies for its containment.

The CDC’s dedicated webpage serves as a critical resource for healthcare professionals, researchers, and the public alike, providing essential information to raise awareness about this ongoing public health threat.

By staying informed and implementing appropriate preventive measures, it is hoped that the spread of REPJFX01 can be curtailed, and the impact of its outbreaks minimized.

For all the latest food safety news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.