Epi works but needs to be stronger than ‘some people ate the cheese ’ Cheese firm in Scotland linked to E. coli outbreak threatens legal action

Victoria Weldon of Herald Scotland writes that a cheese firm at the centre of an E.coli outbreak is threatening legal action to prevent a ban on sales of its popular delicacy.

dunsyre.blue.cheeseDunsyre Blue, a mould ripened, gourmet cheese from Lanarkshire, is suspected of being the source of last month’s outbreak which struck down 16 people, hospitalising two.

Makers Errington Cheese were initially forced to recall two batches but claim they have now been ordered to halt all sales or face enforcement action.

It follows fresh tests carried out by FSS identifying genes that, while not confirmation of E.coli, indicate a “presumptive positive” result for naturally occurring bacteria strains.

Company founder Humphrey Errington claims the ban is “unprecedented” and argues that scientific evidence suggests presumptive positive results are notoriously inconclusive, adding, “The behaviour of FSS is monstrous. They blamed our cheese for this outbreak in the absence of any hard evidence and have refused to share with us details of their investigation. We had independent tests carried out two weeks ago that showed the suspected batches of cheese were not contaminated. We shared these results with FSS and they said nothing to restore public trust in the product.”

Errington said the ban on Dunsyre Blue, which accounts for about two-thirds of the company’s revenue, was a “catastrophe” and revealed that his lawyers will decide today whether or not to take legal action.

“I’m afraid I can see this ending up in the courts,” he told the Sunday Times.

Dunsyre Blue is characterised by its chunky blue-green moulds and is favoured by the Queen and Michelin-starred restaurants, including an eaterie run by renowned chef Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles resort in Perthshire.

It became the focus of the health scare after 14 people in Scotland and two in England were struck down with E.coli in July, suffering stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever.

By the end of the month, health officials announced that Dunsyre Blue was the most likely cause of the outbreak.

However, questions are now being asked over the strength of evidence linking the cheese to the outbreak.

Hugh Pennington, professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said: “I don’t know if Dunsyre Blue was the cause or not, but if you’re going to accuse Errington’s cheese of being the vector of the outbreak, then without further ado effectively destroy his business, then I think you should have stronger evidence than just ‘some people ate the cheese’.”

A spokesman for FSS said that all victims had been contaminated with the same strain of E.coli O157 and that “there is a strong link with certain batches [C22 and D14] of Dunsyre Blue cheese”.

He added: “Dunsyre Blue cheese remains the most likely source of this outbreak, with confirmed cases becoming unwell between July 2 and 15. It would not be appropriate to respond in more detail as investigations have not yet concluded.”

A lot of STEC: Numbers mean new interventions

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains can colonize cattle for several months and may, thus, serve as gene reservoirs for the genesis of highly virulent zoonotic enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC).

Cattle-Heat-Load-ForecastingAttempts to reduce the human risk for acquiring EHEC infections should include strategies to control such STEC strains persisting in cattle. We therefore aimed to identify genetic patterns associated with the STEC colonization type in the bovine host. We included 88 persistent colonizing STEC (STECper) (shedding for ≥4 months) and 74 sporadically colonizing STEC (STECspo) (shedding for ≤2 months) isolates from cattle and 16 bovine STEC isolates with unknown colonization types. Genoserotypes and multilocus sequence types (MLSTs) were determined, and the isolates were probed with a DNA microarray for virulence-associated genes (VAGs). All STECper isolates belonged to only four genoserotypes (O26:H11, O156:H25, O165:H25, O182:H25), which formed three genetic clusters (ST21/396/1705, ST300/688, ST119). In contrast, STECspo isolates were scattered among 28 genoserotypes and 30 MLSTs, with O157:H7 (ST11) and O6:H49 (ST1079) being the most prevalent. The microarray analysis identified 139 unique gene patterns that clustered with the genoserotypes and MLSTs of the strains. While the STECper isolates possessed heterogeneous phylogenetic backgrounds, the accessory genome clustered these isolates together, separating them from the STECspo isolates.

Given the vast genetic heterogeneity of bovine STEC strains, defining the genetic patterns distinguishing STECper from STECspo isolates will facilitate the targeted design of new intervention strategies to counteract these zoonotic pathogens at the farm level.

The accessory genome of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli defines a persistent colonization type in cattle

Appl Environ Microbiol 82:5455–5464. doi:10.1128/AEM.00909-16.

SA Barth, C Menge, I Eichhorn, T Semmier, LH Wieler, D Pickard, A Belka, C Berens, L Geue

http://aem.asm.org/content/82/17/5455.abstract?etoc

Pools or animal farms: 223 sick UK crypto could be anywhere

Janet Hughes of Gloucestershire Live writes that scientists are checking to see if summer holiday visits to animal attractions are behind a massive spike in the number of toddlers with cryptosporidium.

crypto.petting.farmPublic health chiefs are asking affected families to fill in questionnaires about where they have been and what they have eaten in an effort to trace the source of the outbreak which is particularly bad in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

Children aged between one and five years are most at risk from the parasite cryptosporidium which is three or four times more prevalent than normal this summer.

Doctors believe a small number of cases could be linked Oasis leisure centre in Swindon, which has been closed as a precautionary measure, and say swimming in contaminated lakes, rivers or swimming pools can cause the disease to strike.

But many of those struck down are young toddlers so other possible theories include the prospect that children might not have washed their hands after petting animals at attractions during the summer holidays.

Hand washing is never enough.

 

Dozens of Manhattan (the one in Kansas) high school students report nausea, vomiting

Last time I was at Manhattan High in beautiful downtown Manhattan, Kansas, I gave Bill Murray a don’t eat poop shirt.

bill.murray.dp_Before that, I was called in to help out with outbreaks that seemed to have more to do with lack of toilet paper and other hygienic basics, while school types told the kids it was their fault because they didn’t wash their hands. No tools, no job get done.

According to Samantha Foster of The Topeka Capital-Journal, state and Riley County health officials are investigating after dozens of Manhattan High School students were sent home from school this week with nausea and vomiting.

Jennifer Green, administrative director of the Riley County Health Department, said Friday that the high school informed the health department on Wednesday that more than a dozen students had been sent home with those symptoms since Monday.

At least 16 students were sent home between Monday and Thursday, and the school told the health department 19 students were either sent home Friday or had parents who reported to the school they were experiencing nausea and vomiting, Green said.

Soap porn: Soap bar sales plunge as young people opt for hand wash

Richard Gray of the Daily Mail reports a fear of germs may be dooming the humble bar of soap as young, hygiene obsessed members of millennials turn to hand wash instead.

doolNew figures have revealed that young people aged between 18 and 24 are choosing liquid soap over the old fashioned bars.

Sales of soap bars in the US fell by 2.2 per cent between 2014 and 2015 even though the overall market for bath and shower products increased by 2.7 per cent, Mintel has found.

Most of this decline in the use of soap bars has been driven by younger consumers and women.

But it appears traditional bars of soap are still popular with older members of society, particularly men who are over the age of 60, perhaps adding to its old fashioned image.

The figures fit within a growing trend that shows consumers are turning their back on traditional soap bars – since 2010 the number of households using bar soap has dropped by five per cent.

While some of this may be partly driven by the growing range of soap products now available, Mintel found that nearly half of all US consumers believe soap bars are covered in germs after use.

This was most strong in those aged between 18 and 24-years-old – the cohort often identified as Generation Z, or more widely as millennials.

A generation so much dumber than its parents

Came crashing through the window.

Go public with data: More Listeria in more frozen veggies

Country Fresh, LLC. of Conroe, Texas, is recalling 30,000 cases of various fresh-cut vegetable products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

country.fresh.listeriaThe product in question was shipped to retailers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia under the Country Fresh and store brand labels described in the product listing.

The product bears “BEST IF USED BY” dates between August 7, 2016 (8/7/16) through August 19, 2016 (8/19/16).  The product is in either a clear plastic container as labeled below or in Styrofoam trays overwrapped with clear plastic film as labeled below.  No products except those on this list are subject to this recall.

To date, no illnesses have been confirmed by public health authorities.

“We are treating this incident very seriously because we want to ensure that our customers are provided with only the safest, most wholesome, and high-quality products available,” said Max Payen, Country Fresh’s Director of Food Safety.  The potential for contamination was uncovered as the result of a single routine sample taken at a retail store by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which revealed the finished product tested positive for the bacteria.  

If the company believes its soundbites, will it reveal its own testing results?

Going public: London, Ontario (that’s in Canada) version after Salmonella spike

Rather than waiting until all the facts were in and all the linkages solid, the Middlesex-London Health Unit on Friday decided to do something which has now become radical: it shared what they knew about a spike in Salmonella illnesses, said what they were doing to find out more, and implied that when they  find out more, you’ll hear it from health-types first.

risks.aheadGood job.

Jennifer O’Brien of the London Free-Press reports that 14 reported cases of Salmonella in a week — compared to a monthly August average of nine — has mystified health inspectors who couldn’t find a “common thread” among those affected.

Stephen Turner, director of environmental health and infectious diseases said, “We look for relationships — common restaurants, grocery stores, a common workplace . . . whether they’ve purchased a common product. We haven’t found that. That is why it’s raised our eyebrows so we are investigating diligently.”

The next step for the health unit is to contact each infected person and find out information that might explain how they became infected, he said.

The 14 people who were infected between Aug. 18 and Friday included males and females who range in age and live in various neighbourhoods across London.

They all reported typical symptoms associated with salmonella — diarrhea, vomiting and fever, said Turner, adding the health unit would like anyone experiencing such symptoms to report them.

Losing my religion: Turkish family celebrating food poisoning survival gets sick again

Nathan Francis of The Inquisitr writes that a Turkish family decided to hold a dinner party for 20 guests this week to celebrate recovering from food poisoning, but were stricken again.

animal.sacrificeA report from the Turkish province of Tekirdag claimed that the family’s matriarch, Asiye Erdal, decided to sacrifice an animal to show gratitude to God for the entire family recovering from the earlier illness. But after serving the animal to the guests, all 20 of them fell ill with food poisoning again and ended up in the hospital, the U.K.’s Independent reported.

The family had just returned from spending an entire week in the hospital after a meal prepared by Asiye Erdal, the report indicated. The meal this week was supposed to be a celebration for the family successfully getting through the illness.

Alattin Erdal, Asiye’s husband, said he couldn’t believe that the family would be struck twice in such a short time.

“We don’t get it. First we were poisoned and then sacrificed an animal for God as a sign of gratitude for gaining our health back. Then we were poisoned once again, as well as the neighbors. May God save us from the worst,” he told Anadolu. “Food poisoning became our nightmare.”

4,700 sick: Second death linked to NZ campy outbreak

A second death has been linked to the Campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North, NZ.

jean.sparksman.cryptoThe Hawke’s Bay District Health Board states the woman in her nineties was admitted to Hawke’s Bay Hospital during the contamination crisis, which has affected more than 4,700 people.

The DHB say while the woman had campylobacter, she died from an unrelated medical condition yesterday evening.

This comes as the coroner investigates the death of 89 year old Jean Sparksman (right) who died on August 13th while also suffering campylobacter.

The coroner won’t be holding a formal investigation into the recent death of the woman in her nineties, as there is not direct link to the gastro bug.

CDC version: 4 dead, 33 sickened from Listeria linked to Dole packaged greens

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control came out with a summary of its investigation of Listeria in Dole packaged leafy greens produced at its Columbus, Ohio plant.

lettuce.tomato.skullIn September 2015, PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, identified a cluster of Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) clinical isolates indistinguishable by two-enzyme pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern combination and highly related by whole-genome multilocus sequence typing (wgMLST). A case was defined as isolation of Listeria with the outbreak PFGE pattern and highly related by wgMLST with an isolation date on or after July 5, 2015, the isolate date of the earliest case in this cluster.

A standardized Listeria Initiative questionnaire (1) was used to gather information about foods consumed in the 4 weeks before illness from seven persons identified by November 30, 2015, with isolation dates occurring July 5, 2015–October 30, 2015. This tool did not include leafy green vegetables and failed to identify a common source for the infections. During December 2015 and January 2016, eight new or previously interviewed patients or their surrogates participated in open-ended interviews or provided shopper card records, and all reported consuming leafy greens in the month before illness onset. Among these, seven (88%) reported romaine and six (75%) reported spinach, higher than national food consumption estimates of 47% (p = 0.022) and 24% (p = 0.003), respectively (2). Six patients (75%) recalled consuming packaged salad, and three patients (38%) who recalled brands reported packaged salad brands processed by Company A (that’d be Dole).

The Ohio Department of Agriculture obtained packaged salad processed at Company A’s Ohio facility from a store during routine sampling. On January 14, 2016, PulseNet analyzed sequence data from Listeria isolated from the packaged salad, and the isolate was highly related to the clinical isolates by wgMLST (median allele differences <10). This molecular finding, combined with the epidemiologic information, led the Food and Drug Administration to initiate an inspection of Company A’s Ohio facility on January 16, 2016. Two food samples collected during the inspection yielded Listeria, and wgMLST analysis indicated that they were highly related (median allele differences <10) to clinical and retail product isolates.

On January 21, 2016, Company A voluntarily halted production at its Ohio facility and conducted a market withdrawal of all packaged salad products from that facility because of possible Listeria contamination.* The market withdrawal included 22 varieties of packaged salads sold under various brand names. Company A issued a voluntary recall of these products on January 27, 2016, which further identified the list of affected products and brand names.

After the market withdrawal and recall, CDC fielded >450 inquiries about listeriosis from concerned consumers and clinicians, and the CDC outbreak website received >787,000 page views, more views than after any other foodborne illness outbreak to date.

lettuceAs of March 28, 2016, there were 19 persons meeting the case definition from nine states (Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) with isolation dates through January 31, 2016. All were hospitalized; one died. One illness in a pregnant woman resulted in a preterm live birth. One otherwise healthy child developed meningitis.

The Public Health Agency of Canada investigated 14 cases of listeriosis associated with this outbreak, with onset dates from May 7, 2015 to February 23, 2016 (3). Six Canadian clinical isolates were compared with U.S. clinical isolates and were highly related by wgMLST. Three cases reported consuming packaged salad processed at the Ohio facility. In January 2016, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) collected 55 packaged salads from stores in Canada representing 12 different products processed at the Ohio facility. CFIA isolated the outbreak strain and issued a food recall warning on January 22, 2016, for all products processed at the Ohio facility and distributed in Canada.

The wgMLST analysis identified this listeriosis cluster and provided evidence of the link between contaminated food products and human illness. This allowed timely recall of potentially contaminated food, which might have prevented additional cases of serious illness.

This is the first reported outbreak of listeriosis associated with leafy greens and the eighth reported outbreak of listeriosis associated with fresh produce in the United States; all occurred since 2008 (4).** It is unclear whether the appearance of these outbreaks might be attributed to improved outbreak detection, changes in consumer behavior, or changes in production and distribution. Fresh produce processors are advised to review food safety plans and consider incorporating measures to avoid the growth and persistence of Listeria.†† The Listeria Initiative questionnaire has been revised to include additional questions about fresh produce to better identify produce vehicles of Listeria.

Outbreak of listeriosis associated with consumption of packaged salad – United States and Canada, 2015-2016

Weekly / August 26, 2016 / 65(33);879–881

JL Self, A Conrad, S Stroika, A Jackson, L Burnworth, J Beal, A Wellman, KA Jackson, S Bidol, T Gerhardt, M Hamel, K Franklin, C Kopko, P Kirsch, ME Wise, C Basler

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6533a6.htm?s_cid=mm6533a6_e