Drug raises risk of salmonella: study

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - Page 3

With the number of Taiwanese suffering from gastroesophageal reflux and gastric ulcers on the rise, the National Health Research Institute (NHRI) yesterday released research that shows people who take a common drug used to treat those conditions face a fivefold risk of experiencing gastrointestinal infections.

The research team analyzed the National Health Insurance (NHI) records of about 73,000 people from 2000 to 2010 and discovered that those who took proton pump inhibitors (PPI) — which work to reduce the amount of stomach acid — within a year had a 4.39 times higher chance of suffering from salmonella infections than those who did not take the drug.

“Their likelihood was reduced to 3.2 times the risk faced by their non-prescription counterparts after they stopped taking the medicine for a week,” National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology researcher Kuo Shu-chen (郭書辰) told a news conference in Taipei.

“If they stayed away from the drug for one month or longer, their chance of being infected with salmonella bacteria became similar to that of individuals without the inhibitor,” he said.

People who were prescribed another stomach acid inhibitor known as H2-receptor antagonists also faced a 1.84 times greater risk of salmonella infections, he said.

The increased risk of intestinal infections was the result of the drugs reducing gastric acid secretions, as the acid creates a hostile environment for bacteria, Kuo said.

About 4,000 people are hospitalized with salmonella infections in Taiwan annually, Kuo said, making it the most common intestinal infections in the nation.

Symptoms of salmonella infections include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever appearing six to 48 hours after being infected.

People taking gastric acid inhibitors should pay close attention to their diet and avoid consuming contaminated water and undercooked or raw foods, Kuo said.