Kansas: Deadly Infection Strikes Person Who Swallowed Rattlesnake Pills for Some Reason

A person in Kansas got salmonella after taking rattlesnake pills bought in Mexico, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday. The pills, a folk remedy that's touted as a "treatment" for cancer, HIV and acne, are made of dried and ground-up snake meat. No other information about the person who took the pills, including their age, gender or current status, was immediately available. 

Salmonella is a bacteria that can be found in all kinds of food and on other kinds of animals, including eggs, and tiny turtles. The disease can cause a fever as well as stomach issues like diarrhea and cramps. Children, older adults and people whose immune systems are weak are particularly vulnerable to the infection. 

rattlesnake close-up A rattlesnake tastes the air on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Reserve on March 27, 2006, near Ajo, Arizona. David McNew/Getty Images

This is far from the first time that rattlesnake pills have been linked to a Salmonella outbreak. In 1983, the CDC reported a case of salmonella linked with snake powder capsules that a 61-year-old woman was taking, possibly with the intention of treating her cancer. Three patients treated at the University of Southern California Medical Center in 1988 may also have contracted infections from swallowing the pills, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Each of the three patients had some underlying medical condition, including lupus and congestive heart failure. A child with lupus nearly died from the infection in 2007 after taking tainted rattlesnake pills, Reuters reported

People who are undergoing cancer treatment and people with lupus have particularly weak immune systems. 

This isn't even the first time that rattlesnake pills have been linked to an outbreak of this particular kind of salmonella. The DNA sequence of the bacteria that was the source of this particular outbreak matched a sample taken from another rattlesnake pill-related outbreak, the CDC noted.