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I'll Have The Chicken

Contributed by: News Canada

(NC) - Summer is the season of backyard barbeques and campfire cookouts. Unfortunately, this means that summer is also the season of Salmonella poisoning.

I'll Have The Chicken
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause severe diseases in humans, ranging from food poisoning to typhoid fever. Improperly cooked chicken and eggs are the main culprits in spreading the Salmonella bugs that cause food poisoning. Antibiotics are the standard treatment for Salmonella infections, but the rise in antibiotic resistance has forced researchers to look for more creative ways to tackle these tricky pathogens.

"Sometimes in research you need to look at things from a different angle," says Dr. Amit Bhavsar at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Bhavsar is doing just that with his study on Salmonella's ability to evade the immune system.

Salmonella bacteria are very stealthy when it comes to causing disease. They can enter your body, invade your cells and start causing trouble before your immune system realizes what's happening.

The bacteria produce special molecules called effector proteins that contribute to Salmonella's stealth. The bacteria cell inserts the effectors directly into the host cell. Once inside, the effectors can dampen biochemical reactions that would normally trigger an immune response. Dr. Bhavsar is working to improve researchers' understanding of how effectors work.

Dr. Bhavsar's research is particularly promising because effectors are potential therapeutic targets for non-antibiotic treatments.

"With any bacterial pathogen, the prospect of antibiotic resistance is extremely relevant and probably already happening," says Dr. Bhavsar.

Antibiotics kill bacteria by targeting specific processes or structures in the bacterial cell. While this makes antibiotics great weapons against disease, it also means that these drugs exert tremendous pressure on bacteria to evolve antibiotic resistance. With the help of funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Dr. Bhavsar is working to lay the scientific groundwork for the development of new Salmonella fighting strategies.

"We hope to identify a small molecule that could prevent Salmonella effectors from blocking the immune response," explains Dr. Bhavsar. "The treatment would encourage the body's natural defenses to defeat Salmonella without the help of antibiotics."

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Some tips for safe summer barbecuing:

Keep it Clean

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Wash again when you switch from one food to another.

  • Keep your countertops and utensils clean and sanitized to reduce bacteria and prevent food poisoning.
  • Keep it Cool

  • Keep food at or below 4 C (40 F) until you are ready to cook it. Bacteria like Salmonella can grow on food left in the temperature danger zone (4 to 60 C/40 to 140 F) for more than two hours.

  • Pack the cooler with freezer packs and keep it in the shade.
  • Keep it Safe

  • Prevent food poisoning by cooking food to a safe internal temperature. Use a digital food thermometer to cook foods safely without overcooking.

  • Keep hot food hot at or above 60 C (140 F) to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Keep it Separate

  • Keep raw and cooked food separate and covered to avoid cross-contamination.

  • Never use the same plate, tray or utensils for raw and cooked food. Raw meat juices can spread bacteria to your cooked food and cause food poisoning.




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