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Rattlesnake pills to blame for Salmonella infection, CDC says

Government officials have issued an alert about the risk of taking rattlesnake pills, after a person who took them became infected with Salmonella.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment say that one person in Kansas became sick after swallowing the pills, which were purchased in Mexico. The person reported taking the rattlesnake pills in the week before getting ill.

According to the CDC, rattlesnake pills are often marketed as remedies for various conditions, such as cancer and HIV, though they have no proven medicinal value. 

The pills contain dehydrated rattlesnake meat ground into a powder and then put into pill form. 

Testing confirmed that the Salmonella that made the person sick matched the Salmonella found in rattlesnake pills from Mexico collected in an earlier, unrelated investigation.

Officials warn that reptiles and their meat can carry Salmonella and make people sick.

Symptoms of Salmonella include include nausea and vomiting, blood in the stool, fever, chills and abdominal pain. Severe cases may require hospitalization.

According to the CDC, people with weakened immune systems, including those who are receiving chemotherapy or have HIV, pregnant women, children younger than 5 years, and older adults are at a greater risk of getting a severe Salmonella infection. 

The CDC says anyone thinking of taking rattlesnake pills should talk to their health care provider first, and contact your doctor if you feel ill sick after taking rattlesnake pills.