Finding vomit on an airplane

Illness happens on planes, and when it does it’s miserable.

In 2009 I dealt with campylobacteriosis over a day of travel from Manhattan (Kansas) to Raleigh. In 2013, then four-year-old Jack yacked on a flight which led to a fascinating approach by Delta Airlines involving plastic bags to contain the risk and coffee pods to manage the smell. The flight crew let us off the plane first (although we were in the second-to-last row) as we potentially inoculated the plane and passengers with norovirus.

Maybe the best plane-related outbreak was one reported in Clinical Infectious Diseases a couple of years ago. I’d describe my poop and barf-related imagination as pretty good but I couldn’t have dreamt up the scenario that unfolded on a plane leaving Boston bound for Los Angeles in October 2008.111007015237-sick-throwing-up-airplane-motion-story-top

Members of [the] tour group experienced diarrhea and vomiting throughout an airplane flight from Boston, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles, California, resulting in an emergency diversion 3 h after takeoff.

The problematic flight departed Boston on Oct 8, 2008, heading for Los Angeles and carrying among its passengers 35 members of a leaf-peeping tour group. (Four more members of the group had planned other routes home, while two had been hospitalized in the previous 2 days.)

The outbreak included a passenger with “multiple episodes of diarrhea, with at least 1 occurring in the aisle of the first-class section. The soiled aisle was not cleaned until after completion of the flight.”

As the international discussion of Ebola transmission continues, USA Today writes about bodily fluids on airplanes.

[Linda] Cannon, a teacher from Palatine, Ill., was on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Las Vegas when she felt something wet on her seat. “I pulled out my hand, which was covered in vomit,” she recalls.

The crewmember cleaned the seat while Cannon changed into some clean clothes. But it didn’t help: Bits of upchuck still coated her seat.

“I sat for 3½ hours with the remnants of vomit on my jeans and underwear,” says Cannon. ” I spent the entire flight with nausea and the woman in the next seat telling me it still smelled.”

The passengers who came into contact with blood, urine and vomit wonder who to blame for the lack of hygiene on a plane, and what they’re doing about it.

The answer is a bit complicated. Of course, airlines are responsible for the cleanliness of their aircraft, and it’s a job they say they take seriously.

At American Airlines, for example, planes are tidied up between flights, which can include cleaning the lavatories, seats and replacing any obviously soiled blankets or pillows.

Overnight, the planes are serviced more thoroughly. The restrooms are serviced, seats and tray tables are wiped down, carpets are vacuumed and blankets and pillows are replaced.

Every month, each aircraft is given a “deep” cleaning, where seat covers are washed and the entire cabin is sanitized using government-approved cleaning agents. 

While there have many been plane-linked outbreaks, a quick overnight servicing with a wipe-down could explain reoccurring noro events.

157 sick, up from 11 last year; reports of crypto rise in Florida county

The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County is asking for the public’s help to prevent the spread of Cryptosporidiosis, a disease that spreads easily person to person in in households, child-care settings and schools, and through swimming in contaminated water or from contact with animals.

listeriaDOH-Hillsborough says the number of Cryptosporidiosis cases reported to them has increased since school started in the county.

Since July 1, 2014, 157 cases of Cryptosporidiosis have been reported by DOH-Hillsborough, as compared to 11 cases during the same time period last year. Many of these cases have reported spending time at school or day care the incubation period.

The highest number of cases of infection is in those younger than 15. Health officials are concerned that the numbers of cases could increase if proper precautions are not followed.

Food Safety Talk 65: All My Ports are Engaged

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.  They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.

Man who thinks he's European perplexed by maths.

Man who thinks he’s European perplexed by maths.

 

In this episode, Ben is absent, but Don is not alone. Mike Batz, Assistant Director of Food Safety Programs, Emerging Pathogen Institute at the University of Florida, is a guest on the show. He appeared not once, but twice on the podcast before.

Don and Mike start by talking a little about their travels, then, they quickly move to a discussion on the Chobani Yogurt recall. The news article leaves Mike unsure whether Mucor circinelloides was pathogenic to both animals and humans. A brief digression about podcast listening speed reveals that Batz listens at 1.5 speed while Don is more civilized. Returning to yogurt, they discuss the originalmBio article. Don concludes the study did not provide enough evidence to show M. circinelloides is truely pathogenic to humans.

Don asks Mike about a psychology experiment done by Facebook where they manipulated users feeds. Mike was disappointed by Facebook’s methodology since the study never requested an informed consent from the users. They then rambled about again about their various and sundry international travels. Mike resided close to the Rijks Museum (that’s in Amsterdam) for a while and Schaffner shared his experience in Finland (including reindeer tartare) and New Zealand (and beef tartare).

Next, they talked about a document from the FAO marketed as providing a list of the top 10 foodborne parasites ). To continue, they discussed seasonal food safety tips. While Mike confessed to not always follow his own food safety recommendations, Don revealed he is reluctant to eat a cut cantaloupe by a stranger.

Soon after, the discussion shifted to antibiotics in meat. Both agreed that the issue is quite complicated and there is not a straight forward answer.

They concluded the show with a discussion on cross contamination including cutting boardsartisanal cheese and the 5 second rule. Don recommended plastic cutting board for meat and wood cutting board for any other food types.

Cincinnati woman sues after botulism diagnosis

A local woman who was diagnosed with botulism is suing the manufacturer of a pesto sauce, claiming their product led to her 38-day hospitalization and caused her to lose a scholarship.

VR Green Farms Pine Nut Basil PestoKathryn Napierski consumed VR Green Farms Pine Nut Basil Pesto on July 13, two weeks before health officials warned consumers of the potential botulism contamination of jarred food products from VR Green Farms, according to the lawsuit.

Shigellosis or sunstroke?

This one time, when I was working at a greenhouse as a summer student, I called in sick and told the boss I had sunstroke (from working outside the previous day).

And then I went to a free lunch-time Red Hot Chili Peppers concert on Yonge St (that’s in Toronto, which is in Canada). I’ve matured since then.Red Hot Chili Peppers backstage before a gig in Boston, MA in August 1990. © B.C. Kagan

According to the UK Mirror  a per 250 Brits who visited a resort in Egypt were told by management that they were suffering from sunstroke – but it was actually shigellosis.

The Mirror revealed last month how First Choice customers caught the bug, thought to be shigella, at Coral Sea Waterworld, Sharm el Sheikh.

Victim Tracy Roscoe, 51, said she got a letter two days before she and her family were due to leave after spending most of the trip laid up.

“It stinks,” said Mrs Roscoe. “They tried to blame the sun when they knew it was a bug doing the rounds in the hotel.”

The letter – “Sunstroke And How To Stay Healthy” – referred to heat above 40C and how over-exposure and low fluids can cause sunstroke.

But many sick guests complained of poor food hygiene by staff.

Nick Harris of lawyers Simpson Millar – handling claims from 250 of them – said: “It’s outrageous if there was an attempt to intimate to customers that the massive sickness outbreak was caused by sunstroke, which is what the letter seems to imply.”

5 sickened: Frog found in midday meal in India

Food safety authorities on Wednesday took specimens of food from a school in Badgaon in Saharanpur district, in which a dead frog was found.

kermit.frogFood safety officer Paramjeet Singh said a dead frog was found in the rice-dal served to students of Sati Smarak Inter College on Tuesday, after which three students and two teachers fell ill.

Stick it in: Australian warning about Hepatitis E cases linked with pork liver

NSW Health is urging members of the public to thoroughly cook pork products, particularly pork livers, after three recent notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW in people who have not travelled outside Australia.

barfblog.Stick It InNSW Health – in collaboration with the NSW Food Authority and the Department of Primary Industries – is investigating the cases which were recorded over the past few days.

Dr Jeremy McAnulty, the Director of Health Protection with NSW Health, said three individuals have likely contracted the illness after consuming either pork liver or pork liver sausages that may not have been properly cooked at home.

“Hepatitis E virus has previously been identified in Australian pig herds but until recently there has been no evidence that humans have acquired the virus from pork products in Australia,” Dr McAnulty said.

“Hepatitis E is common in developing countries where there is poor sanitation and little access to clean drinking water. Although infections have been linked to the consumption of pork products in other developed countries, this has not been seen in Australia before.

“In 2010 there were 14 notifications of Hepatitis E in NSW, in 2011 there were 21 notifications and in 2012 there were 10 notifications – all of which were thought to have been acquired overseas.

“Last year there were 19 notifications of the virus across the State and for the first time included a small number which were acquired locally.

“So far this year there have been 27 notifications, many without a history of overseas travel but with a history of eating pork particularly pork liver during the time they were likely exposed to the virus.”

pork.liverDr Lisa Szabo, Chief Scientist NSW Food Authority, said any raw food product has an element of food safety risk unless it is correctly handled and prepared.

“Undercooking pork livers and poor handling of them can be dangerous,” Dr Szabo said.

“Cooking livers all the way through will reduce the risk of contracting Hepatitis E virus or other organisms.”

Potentially harmful viruses and bacteria that may be associated with pork livers are all destroyed by thorough cooking and proper handling.

Pork livers need to be cooked all the way through to kill any organisms that may be present – lightly searing the surface is not enough.

Cook to 75°C at the centre of the thickest part for at least two minutes as measured using a digital probe meat thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. Allow livers to rest for at least three minutes before consuming.

It is also important to handle pork livers in a way to avoid cross-contamination.”

To avoid cross-contamination (where particles from raw food come into contact with ready-to-eat foods), it is very important to:

  • wash your hands in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly before preparing food and after touching raw meat;
  • make sure juices from raw meat do not come into contact with other foods
  • thoroughly clean all utensils, equipment and surfaces after preparing raw meat and before contact with other foods;
  • if possible use a separate cutting board and knife specifically for raw meat;
  • store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge so juices can’t drip onto other foods; and
  • keep uncooked raw meat away from other ready-to-eat foods that will not be cooked.

Fancy food ain’t safe food: California vegan True Food Kitchen edition

An upscale restaurant at Fashion Island, California, that bills itself as a healthy living establishment is at the center of a suspected foodborne illness outbreak involving at least six victims, county officials said Thursday.

truefood1The sickened diners tested positive for shigella, an intestinal bacteria that triggers severe diarrhea. The “common factor” for each victim was they ate a meal at True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach on Aug. 21, 23, 24 and 25, county healthy officials said.

The county shut the restaurant Aug. 28 to investigate the outbreak. None of the victims ate the same dish, leading investigators to believe that the bacteria was spread “person to person,” said Denise Fennessy, director of Environmental Health at the county’s Health Care Agency.

“There was no common food item to focus on,” she said.

Though the case is still under investigation, True Food was allowed to reopen Saturday night after meeting certain criteria, including sanitizing the entire restaurant and bringing in replacement staff, Fennessy said.

Anita Walker, vice president of marketing for parent company Fox Restaurant Concepts in Arizona, said the “health and safety of our guests and employees are our first priority.”

 

Shellfishing areas in New York waters temporarily closed after reports of foodborne illness

Following reports of foodborne illness, harvesting of oysters and hard clams in some Town of Huntington waters was to be temporarily banned as of sunrise Friday as a precaution, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said late Thursday afternoon.

SUN0705N-Oyster7Tests linked a number of cases of illness to Vibrio parahaemolyticus, also known as Vp, which is a marine bacterium that occurs naturally, said the DEC, which could not immediately say how many people were affected. Vp is often associated with warm water and not connected to contamination from sewage or storm water, the DEC said.

139 sickened: characterization of three Bacillus cereus strains involved in outbreak of food poisoning after consumption of fermented black beans (douchi) in Yunan, China

Three Bacillus cereus strains isolated from an outbreak of food poisoning caused by the consumption of fermented black beans (douchi) containing B. cereus is described.

douchiThe outbreak involved 139 persons who had nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The strains were isolated from vomit and the unprepared douchi.

Two of the strains produced the emetic toxin cereulide, as evidenced by polymerase chain reaction analysis for the presence of the nonribosomal synthetase cluster responsible for the synthesis of cereulide and by chemical analysis by high-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. These two strains belong to genetic group III of B. cereus, and multiple locus sequence typing revealed that the type was ST26, as a major part of B. cereus emetic strains. One of these strains produced significantly more cereulide at 37°C than the type cereulide producer (F4810/72), and it was also able to produce the toxin at 40°C and 42°C. The third strain belongs to genetic group IV, and it is a new multiple locus sequence type closely related to strains that are cytotoxic and enterotoxigenic. It possesses genes for hemolysin BL, nonhemolytic enterotoxin, and cytotoxin K2; however, it varies from the majority of strains possessing genes for hemolysin BL by not being hemolytic. Thus, two B. cereus strains producing the emetic toxin cereulide and a strain producing enterotoxins might have been involved in this food-poisoning incident caused by the consumption of a natural fermented food.

The ability of one of the strains to produce cereulide at ≥37°C makes it possible that it is produced in the human gut in addition to occurring in the food.

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. Online Ahead of Print: September 4, 2014. doi:10.1089/fpd.2014.1768.

Guoping Zhou, Kai Bester, Bin Liao, Zushun Yang, Rongrong Jiang, and Niels Bohse Hendriksen

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2014.1768