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Image of the CDC Headquarters
CDC Headquarters; image courtesy of Nrbelex via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org

The first lawsuit related to a nationwide salmonella outbreak was filed earlier this week in the U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado, alleging that a “contaminated product from a shop in Colorado Springs seriously wounded a woman in North Dakota.” According to the lawsuit, the woman, Ashley Lemke, “ordered a kratom tea through the post office from Soap Korner, a company based in Colorado Springs that specializes in the sale of herbal and natural extract products.” She originally ordered the tea in hopes that it would help alleviate her fibromyalgia pain.

Unfortunately for Lemke, shortly after drinking the tea in January 2018, she began feeling ill and experienced chills, a fever, and diarrhea. After visiting her doctor, she was diagnosed with salmonella poisoning. When commenting on the harrowing incident, Lemke said, “It was within the first 24 hours that I felt sick. I was very, very ill…Probably the sickest in my life, for everything I wanted to try to do better.”

Once she was diagnosed, Lemke grew suspicious of the kratom tea she had ordered and said in her lawsuit that the “North Dakota Ministry of Health tested” the tea. The results determined that the kratom in the tea was indeed “contaminated and part of a salmonella outbreak announced by the CDC in late February.”

Image of a Kratom Plant
Kratom Plant; image courtesy of Uomo vitruviano via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org

Since late February, more than 130 cases have sprouted up across the country in relation to the salmonella outbreak, leaving many healthcare professionals and legal experts, including Lemke’s lawyers, to wonder where the salmonella is coming from. According to one of her lawyers, Drew Falkenstein of Marler Clark, his firm has been in “contact with more than a dozen potential victims who became ill after purchasing kratom products from retailers in the United States,” and noted that “this means that other retailers, not just Soap Korner, could soon become involved in litigation.” He also said he expects “the outbreak to continue to increase.”

While Lemke would like nothing more for the cause of the contamination to be discovered, she said she hopes her lawsuit will help motivate companies to “strengthen industry standards.” She added, “I would like to see stronger regulations. People who consume kratom need to be aware that this is an absolutely real possibility.”

In response to the lawsuit, Soap Korner said it is “aware of the situation,” but declined to comment further.

If you or someone you know has consumed products you suspect may be contaminated with salmonella, seek medical attention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms can include “vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping and sometimes fever.” Once infected, the illness typically lasts between four and seven days, and “most people recover without treatment.” However, children, the elderly, and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the illness.

Sources:

National salmonella outbreak leads to lawsuit in Colorado

Kratom Lawsuit Over Salmonella Targets Colorado Store

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