Don’t poop on the mussels

I enjoy a good mussel, with the broth and the bread and the beer.
This report describes an outbreak investigation starting with two closely related suspected food-borne clusters of Dutch hepatitis A cases, nine primary cases in total, with an unknown source in the Netherlands. The hepatitis A virus (HAV) genotype IA sequences of both clusters were highly similar (459/460 nt) and were not reported earlier. Food questionnaires and a case–control study revealed an association with consumption of mussels.

Analysis of mussel supply chains identified the most likely production area. International enquiries led to identification of a cluster of patients near this production area with identical HAV sequences with onsets predating the first Dutch cluster of cases.

The most likely source for this cluster was a case who returned from an endemic area in Central America, and a subsequent household cluster from which treated domestic sewage was discharged into the suspected mussel production area.

Notably, mussels from this area were also consumed by a separate case in the United Kingdom sharing an identical strain with the second Dutch cluster.

In conclusion, a small number of patients in a non-endemic area led to geographically dispersed hepatitis A outbreaks with food as vehicle. This link would have gone unnoticed without sequence analyses and international collaboration.

International linkage of two food-borne Hepatitis A clusters through traceback of mussels, The Netherlands, 2012

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 3

Boxman I, Verhoef L, Vennema H, Ngui S, Friesema I, Whiteside C, Lees D, Koopmans M.

Canadian Christmas dinner volunteer had hepatitis A

It’s mid January, and Canadian health types are now declaring that an Alberta Health Services volunteer at a Christmas dinner was infectious with hepatitis A.

hep.aThe government says guests who attended the Wetaskiwin Mission Church dinner on Dec. 20 may have been exposed to the virus.

Officials say the risk to the public is low, but advise anyone who attended the dinner to monitor themselves and family for symptoms until Feb. 7.

New Jersey restaurant at center of hepatitis A outbreak closes

The Hamilton restaurant where four people contracted Hepatitis A at the end of 2014 has permanently closed its doors.

hep.aRosa’s Restaurant, the South Broad Street mainstay, quietly announced that it was closing its doors with small signs hanging on the front and rear doors thanking its customers.

Rosa Spera-Gilmore, the restaurant’s owner and namesake, said in an interview Wednesday Rosa’s last hurrah was a New Year’s Eve party that attracted 300.

“Coming to America from Italy at the age of 11, I never imagined I’d one day own and run my own business,” Spera-Gilmore said. “I was glad that being a business owner let me put others to work and to give back to the community by supporting a lot of civic events and groups. These are the things I’ll think about when I think about the old restaurant.”

A confirmed case of Hepatitis A has been traced to a food worker employed at Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering in Hamilton, officials said late Monday

Spera-Gilmore said the catering portion of the business will continue, despite the demise of the restaurant, but she declined to cite the hepatitis A outbreak as a contributing factor in the closure.

Four people linked to the restaurant were diagnosed with hepatitis A beginning in Dec. 2014.

In response, the township sponsored a vaccination clinic for township residents and urged others to consult their physicians for a vaccine.

The disease originated with an employee of the restaurant, with the remaining cases reported in customers, including a hairstylist and fitness instructor who had regular interaction with the general public.

“There’s some question regarding their hand washing procedures,” Jeff Plunkett, township health officer, said at the time. “The cases certainly have a possibility of being linked, but it’s hard to say whether the gentleman infected himself or contracted it somewhere else and brought it to the facility.”

The restaurant had a history of health violations before and after the outbreak. 

Inspectors found multiple violations related to hand washing, food storage and preparation between October 2014 and January 2015.

On Dec. 1, 2014, inspectors visited the site after the original employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A, ordering food destroyed, surfaces sanitized and denaturing of certain products, such as soups that couldn’t be placed in the trash, by pouring bleach on them.

Inspectors intervened after employees briefly began preparing meals for new customers using food they were ordered to throw away, improperly washed their hands and handled food with bare hands.

The Township Committee considered local legislation that would have imposed stiffer fines on restaurants with health code violations, but in March opted to postpone a vote on an ordinance that would have tripled inspection fees on restaurants that fail two or more health inspections.

“I’m grateful for the years of patronage and so many customers who became family,” Spera-Gilmore said. “I look forward in the year ahead to starting a new business that will focus exclusively on catering.”

Raw oyster-linked hep causes student to drop out of high school — 70 years ago

Like Almost Famous, it’s a coming of age story. One of challenges, persistence, legacy.

And hepatitis A.

According to HNGN, 89 year old Betty Reilly received a bachelor’s degree this week after having her academic career derailed by hepatitis A 70 years ago.

Reilly had to drop out of high school close to graduation when she became ill with Hepatitis A after eating raw oysters in Times Square as a teen. The year it took for her to recover from the debilitating illness squashed her dreams of not only getting that high school diploma, but also her college dreams.

So she went to work, met her husband and raised a family, like most people. It wasn’t until she applied for a job at a library in Sunrise, Fla. that this then 78-year-old self-processed bookworm realized her lack of degreed education can come back to hurt her. The librarian told Reilly at the time that she needed a high school diploma to work there.

So off went Betty Reilly to get an education, at the ripe old age of 78, according to the Jackson County Floridian.

College was not in her future, though, as Reilly had limited funds and no vehicle. However, she was advised to look into the Federal Pell Grant system, which took care of most of Reilly’s tuition, books and fees, and she took the public transportation’s hour-long bus to Broward Community College in Davie, Fla. to receive her Associate’s Degree.

According to a 1995 paper by Joseph Melnick in the Journal of Infectious Diseases goes through the history of hepatitis A virus; it wasn’t differentiated from other jaundice–causing illnesses until 1945, a little after when Reilly was in high school.

New York confirm 5 cases of Hepatitis A linked to pizza joint and McDonald’s

Five known cases of Hepatitis A have surfaced in Seneca County, where health officials have diagnosed two food service workers with the illness in recent weeks.

mark's.pizzariaHealth department leaders say food service workers at a McDonald’s and a Mark’s Pizzeria in Waterloo were both diagnosed with Hepatitis A, and county-run vaccination clinics were held for people who may have eaten at the restaurants.

The last of those clinics is being held Thursday

Fifth case of hep A from imported frozen berries in NZ

A fifth New Zealander is believed to have contracted hepatitis A after eating contaminated frozen berries in October.

berries.boozeThe case was confirmed by the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries on Wednesday, which says it is likely the person was infected after eating Fruzio Mixed Berries in late October.

Consumers have since been instructed to return or throw out the Fruzio brand of mixed berries (strawberries and blackberries), strawberries, blackberries, and three berry mix (blackberries, strawberries and blueberries) while the company has been forced to withdraw its product from shelves.

Ministry of Primary Industries director of plant food and environment Peter Thomson says the agency was alerted to the case on Tuesday.

“The person ate the berries in late October and reported symptoms at the beginning of this month. The person was briefly hospitalised for observation, but released the same day,” he said.

“The next step is to have the virus tested to see if it is the same strain as that in the four other hepatitis A cases.”


Pattie’s foods gets out of the frozen berries business following hep A outbreak

Here’s a predictable progression: products linked to 34 illnesses, shares tank, can’t sell your berries, get out of the berries biz.

According to Business Insider Australia Patties Foods has sold its frozen berries business to Entyce Food Ingredients for an undisclosed sum.FROZEN BERRIES RECALL

The company says the funds from the sale would generate $1.8 million, a sum which is unlikely to affect its fiscal 2016 results.

Its net profit after tax was down from $16.7 million to just $2.1 million.

At the time of the outbreak, the company’s shares tanked 6.5% to $1.28.

Before the recall, the berries business generated 13% of Patties’ sales.

Checking into your suppliers matters when you sell an uncooked product.

All bets are off with sick kids: Hep A in berries edition

I’m an emotional dude and I’ve become more sensitive as a parent. I know my emotions aren’t unique, but sappy movies, especially those focused on parent/kid relationships, make me cry. I’m a nervous flyer (I wasn’t before) irrationally thinking the plane is going down with every bump (leaving my kids fatherless).

I’m empathetic of folks who have kids affected by foodborne illness; when they are young, all their risk protection comes from caregivers.Unknown-7

As NZ health authorities finger Fruzio Mixed Berries as a likely source of four hepatitis A illnesses in the country, the New Zealand Herald highlights how trust in food is impacted during outbreaks.

Some Kiwis who bought the berries quickly contacted the Herald this evening to share their concerns.

Stevie Sanders from Hamilton said she was very worried after giving her 7-month-old daughter the berries. “Oh my God. I’ve just been freaking out. She’s seven months … and I feel so guilty.” Mrs Sanders said she used to mash the berries in with her daughter’s organic yoghurt. She said it was important the Government told people which products were linked to the health scare.

Chloe Rarity from Blenheim said her family was “really shocked” about the berries and found out she’d been eating the Fruzio berries over the past week. She’d made “a huge batch” of berry sorbet for her new neighbours and four families ate it at a barbecue.

Justin Robbins said as a father, he was worried for his family after hearing of the Hepatitis A cases. “When you realise that you are totally and utterly in control of someone else’s life, the feeling that you could’ve given them something that would make them sick – that’s not a nice place to be. “To say it’s unnerving is probably a massive understatement,” he said this evening.


Politicians get involved in NZ hep A in berries outbreak

Supply chains are messy and as products get co-mingled, mixed and distributed tracking down contamination sources gets difficult. An outbreak of hepatitis A linked to frozen berries in New Zealand is getting political as government officials were questioned by law makers, according to Scoop.Unknown-7

Ministry for Primary Industries officials say no link was found between frozen berries from China blamed for an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Australia early this year and fruit finding its way onto the New Zealand market.

Director-General Martyn Dunne and deputies Scott Gallacher and Deborah Roche were appearing before the primary production select committee for the ministry’s annual review and were questioned by Labour’s food safety spokesman Damien O’Connor and Green MP Stefan Browning on why no brands or countries of origin for contaminated frozen berries had been identified yet.

Australia had at least 28 cases of Hepatitis A that were tied to brands of frozen berries imported from China. Gallacher said the two countries shared a lot of information after Australia was able to identify both the strain of the virus and a specific brand, and New Zealand officials did “due diligence” to ensure that brand wasn’t supplying New Zealand and “hasn’t been to this day.” (but were the same farms selling to other brands? -ben)

O’Connor, who has a boysenberry farm at Motueka, asked if there was any reason to think any other source countries were involved, to which Gallacher said stricter screening had been put in place for all imported berries because the information to date hadn’t identified the source country. Dunne added that it was “not fair to that country because we’re not sure.”

“At what stage will New Zealand consumers or businesses know they’ve got contaminated berries in their freezer or what brands they should stop buying,” O’Connor asked, to which Gallacher replied it would hopefully be very shortly as MPI further refines its investigation.

We only do fruit so we’re clean: How the berry hepatitis A scare inspired an Aussie farm business

I asked my grandfather, the asparagus baron, what crop he’d go into if he was starting out in 1980 rather than 1960.


Same in Australia.

Rare and expensive.

I want to plant berry bushes around the townhome in Brisbane instad of some decorative plant.

I get voted down.

But spurred by the hepatitis A outbreak from frozen berries earlier this year, a Victorian small family farming business has launched a 100 percent Australian-grown frozen berries product.

Many consumers fell ill in February after consuming Nanna’s frozen berries grown in Chile and China and packaged in Chinese factories.

Matilda’s is the brainchild of husband and wife team Ruth and Matt Gallace, third generation strawberry farmers on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Alarmed by the outbreak, they fronted $500,000 to construct a purpose-built facility in the Yarra Valley to wash and snap freeze strawberries from Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, which has been in the Gallace family for 50 years, and their 800 acres of land in Victoria and Queensland as well as raspberries and blueberries from NSW and Tasmania.

As their facility is dedicated purely to fruit products, the couple insist their frozen berries will be free from contamination.

Um, that’s not the way microbes work, especially hep A which is transferred from human poop to humans.

But good luck.