Hep E? From pigs? In Corsica?

To the Editor: In Western countries, human infection with hepatitis E virus (HEV) is mostly autochthonous and zoonotic through ingestion of contaminated food or direct contact with infected animals and very occasionally is imported from regions to which it is endemic to humans (tropical and subtropical areas) (1). Domestic pigs and wild boars are important zoonotic reservoirs of HEV worldwide (2).

pigwapplesmIn continental France, grouped cases of hepatitis E have been described after ingestion of Corsican specialties made with raw pig liver known as ficatelli, traditionally eaten grilled or raw after curing (3,4). A survey of French food products detected HEV RNA in 30% of ficatelli samples (5). A recent nationwide study of blood donors in France showed a high (>60%) HEV seroprevalence in Corsica, suggesting local hyperendemicity (6). Estimated prevalences of HEV RNA from wild boars and domestic pigs in Corsica were 2.3% and 8.3%, respectively (F. Jori, unpub. data). We aimed to evaluate, at a molecular level, the role of local wild boars and domestic pigs from Corsica in human infections or food contaminations.

We retrieved partial sequences of HEV open reading frame 2 capsid (7) from samples from 8 wild boars hunted during 2009–2013 and from 2 domestic pigs collected at a slaughterhouse in 2013 (F. Jori, unpub. data) and compared them with sequences available in GenBank. This genomic region is used frequently in phylogeny and reflects the diversity of HEV (8). After alignment with reference sequences for subtyping (9) and their closest sequences, we constructed a phylogenetic tree (Figure). All 10 sequences belonged to HEV genotype 3 and were distributed into 3 distinct clusters.

Cluster 1, subtype 3c, comprised 4 wild boar sequences (FR-HEVWB-1-91, FR-HEVWB-3-07, FR-HEVWB-7-114, FR-HEVWB-8-115) that had 96%–97% nt identity. These sequences were identified during 3 successive hunting seasons (2009, 2010, and 2013) in the same hunting area, suggesting that HEV sequences can be stable, with limited genetic variability, during at least 4 years in a local population of wild boars. These sequences were close to HEV wild boar sequences from Belgium (GenBank accession no. KP296177) and Germany (GenBank accession no. FJ705359; 3c reference sequence). A possible introduction of wild boars from northeast continental France into Corsica during the 1990s could explain such similarity (C. Pietri, pers. comm.). Two human cases reported in southeastern France (GenBank accession nos. GQ426997, KJ742841) in 2008 and 2009 also aggregated within this cluster (94%–95% nt identity), indicating possible zoonotic transmissions from wild boars to humans.

Cluster 2 comprised 2 wild boar sequences (FR-HEVWB-2-101 and FR-HEVWB-6-75) with 99.3% nt similarity, collected in 2009 and 2012 from the same geographic area (Haute Corse, <10 km apart). This cluster is distant from the subtypes assigned by Smith et al. (9) and shows <86.5% nt identity with reference sequences (Figure), indicating a possible local and stable evolution in space and time.

Cluster 3, subtype 3f, comprised sequences isolated from wild boars and domestic pigs from Corsica, humans from continental France, and 1 food sample from Corsica. The 2 domestic pig sequences (FR-SHEV-2B-1-182, FR-SHEV-2B-2-190) were 100% identical and shared 97.5% nt identity with a wild boar sequence (FR-HEVWB-4-104), suggesting transmission between domestic and wild pigs. These 2 swine sequences shared 96% nt identity with a sequence amplified in 2011 from a ficatellu sample (FR-HEVFIG-3; GenBank accession no. KJ558438) (5) from the same geographic area of Corsica (Haute Corse) and 96% nt identity with an isolate from a patient with acute hepatitis E recorded in France in 2009 (GenBank accession no. JF730424). In addition, the wild boar sequence in this cluster (FR-HEVWB-4-104) shared 96.4% nt identity with the same ficatellu sample and 97.1% nt identity with the same patient in France. This finding suggests that some locally produced ficatelli could be contaminated with HEV from local domestic pigs or wild boars. The human infection also suggests that zoonotic transmission might have occurred through contact with local pig or wild boar reservoirs or through ingestion of contaminated food products. No additional information is available about this human case that might attribute the contamination to 1 of the sources.

Also in cluster 3, another Corsican wild boar sequence (FR-HEVWB-5-117), isolated in 2011, shared 96.2% and 95.7% nt identity with 2 human sequences identified from continental France in 2013 (GenBank accession no. KR027083) and 2009 (GenBank accession no. JF730424 FR-HuHEV-09AL38). This finding again suggests a zoonotic origin for these human cases. Cluster 3 illustrates well a possible path of transmission between wildlife, domestic pigs, food, and human infection and the potential for dissemination of HEV outside Corsica.

pig.sex_Our results provide evidence suggesting a dynamic exchange of HEV between domestic and wild swine reservoirs and possibly resulting in transmission from those reservoirs to humans through ingestion of infected food products. These animal reservoirs are common and abundant (http://www.oncfs.gouv.fr/IMG/file/mammiferes/ongules/ongules_sauvages/TCD/haute_corse_ongules_sauvages_tableau_departemental.pdfhttp://draaf.corse.agriculture.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/Chiffres_cles_Corse-2015_cle825d93.pdf) and represent a sustainable source of HEV exposure in Corsica.

Nicole Pavio , Morgane Laval, Oscar Maestrini, François Casabianca, François Charrier, and Ferran Jori

Author affiliations: ANSES (French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety); Maisons-Alfort, France (N. Pavio); INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research); Maisons-Alfort (N. Pavio); University Paris 12, National Veterinary School, Maisons-Alfort (N. Pavio); INRA, Corte, France (M. Laval, O. Maestrini, F. Casabianca, F. Charrier); CIRAD (Agricultural Research for Development); Montpellier, France (F. Jori); Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Gaborone, Botswana (F. Jori)

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Gaël Stéphant for technical assistance in swine sample analysis. We thank Christian Pietri for sharing his knowledge on the origin of wild boar population in Corsica.

Part of the study including wild boar and domestic pig sample analysis was supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 278433-PREDEMICS and grant agreement no. 311931 (ASFORCE).

References

1.Pavio N, Meng XJ, Renou C. Zoonotic hepatitis E: animal reservoirs and emerging risks. Vet Res. 2010;41:46. DOIPubMed

2.Thiry D, Mauroy A, Pavio N, Purdy MA, Rose N, Thiry E, Hepatitis E virus and related viruses in animals. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2015;n/a; Epub ahead of print. DOIPubMed

3.Colson P, Borentain P, Queyriaux B, Kaba M, Moal V, Gallian P, Pig liver sausage as a source of hepatitis E virus transmission to humans. J Infect Dis. 2010;202:825–34. DOIPubMed

4.Renou C, Roque-Afonso AM, Pavio N. Foodborne transmission of hepatitis E virus from raw pork liver sausage, France.[Erratum in: Emerg Infect Dis. 2015;21:384. ]. Emerg Infect Dis. 2014;20:1945–7.DOIPubMed

5.Pavio N, Merbah T, Thébault A. Frequent hepatitis E virus contamination in food containing raw pork liver, France.Emerg Infect Dis. 2014;20:1925–7. DOIPubMed

6.Mansuy JM, Gallian P, Dimeglio C, Saune K, Arnaud C, Pelletier B, A nationwide survey of hepatitis E viral infection in French blood donors. Hepatology. 2016;63:1145–54. DOIPubMed

7.Rose N, Lunazzi A, Dorenlor V, Merbah T, Eono F, Eloit M, High prevalence of hepatitis E virus in French domestic pigs.Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis. 2011;34:419–27. DOIPubMed

8.Lu L, Li C, Hagedorn CH. Phylogenetic analysis of global hepatitis E virus sequences: genetic diversity, subtypes and zoonosis. Rev Med Virol. 2006;16:5–36. DOIPubMed

9.Smith DB, Simmonds P, Izopet J, Oliveira-Filho EF, Ulrich RG, Johne R, Proposed reference sequences for hepatitis E virus subtypes. J Gen Virol. 2016;97:537–42. DOIPubMed

Possible foodborne transmission of Hepatitis E virus from domestic pigs and wild boars from Corsica

Emerging Infectious Diseases; Volume 22, Number 12—December 2016; DOI: 10.3201/eid2212.160612

Pavio N, Laval M, Maestrini O, Casabianca F, Charrier F, Jori F.

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/22/12/16-0612_article

Safety of sun tea

Nancy Haberstich, creator and founder of Nanobugs Inc. writes in the Lincoln Journal Star that the appeal of sun tea is the ease at which you can make it — pop a bunch of tea bags in a big jar of water and set it in the sun.

Sun-tea-in-mason-jarsHowever, sun tea does come with its risks.

Microbes can easily contaminate tea leaves. When added to water, these microbes can be revived and start multiplying — especially if they sit in warmer temperatures of 40 to 140 degrees.

Tea made with the sun’s rays will not get hotter than 130 degrees, Haberstich said. The caffeine in black tea will help prevent some bugs from flourishing for a few hours, but its effects won’t last beyond that. Herbal teas are an even worse bet for brewing in sunlight because they lack caffeine.

For safer iced tea, boil water and pour it over tea bags or tea leaves. Steep to desired concentration, then add ice and serve. Iced tea makers are also safe alternative, if they heat water to 195 degrees.

A new trend is the “cold brew” method — which is safe as the tea or coffee is “brewed” overnight in a refrigerator (which is colder than 40 degrees).

739 sickened in 2007: Cryptosporidium outbreak cost Ireland €19m

Paul Melia of the Irish Independent reports a Cryptosporidium outbreak that resulted in 120,000 people being forced to boil their water for five months cost €19m, a new study shows.

cryptoThe 2007 outbreak in Galway cost each household €95 and resulted in one in eight hotel and guesthouse bookings being cancelled.

One in five people in the city refuse to drink the tap water today due to concerns about its safety, the study says.

It found that had the water supply to the city and surrounding areas been subjected to an adequate treatment process costing just €1.6m, it would have resulted in an €11 saving for every €1 invested.

The ‘Economic Assessment of the Waterborne Outbreak of Cryptosporidium Hominis in Galway 2007’ study, which was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), says the outbreak lasted for 158 days and resulted in 242 confirmed cases of cryptosporidiosis, “although it was likely the actual number affected was far higher”.

– There were 242 notified cases of cryptosporidiosis, with another 497 non-reported cases.

– 45,160 households were affected, and around 120,000 people.

– There was an 80pc increase in bottled water consumption during the outbreak, with a spend of €3.5m. Another €400,000 was spent boiling water.

– Hotels and guesthouses were obliged to provide 4.2 litres of water per day to guests, and the hospitality industry bore costs of €50,000 per day.

Cryptosporidium remains a problem across the country, with the latest data showing that 17 water supplies require upgrades to remove the threat.

The report, compiled by researchers at NUI Galway with an official from the HSE, found that households bore costs totalling €3.9m, the hospitality sector another €8m, while the local authorities spent almost €6m.

Those subway germs: They’re the harmless kind (mostly)

Nicholas Bakalar of the New York Times reports that with the cooperation of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, researchers at Harvard swabbed seats, walls, poles, hand grips and ticket machines in the Boston transit system, and then did DNA analyses to figure out what kinds of organisms they had collected. The study is online in mSystems.

poleAll the surfaces were contaminated with generally innocuous human skin bacteria, including various strains of propionibacterium, corynebacterium, staphylococcus and streptococcus, among others. Some strains of these bacteria can cause disease under certain circumstances, but all are carried by healthy people and usually cause no problems.

Unsurprisingly, oral germs were found on poles at mouth level, and microbes that infest the skin on hand grips. Outdoor ticket machines had microbes that are prevalent in soil and the air.

“We were specifically checking for bad bugs or the kind of DNA that can make good bugs go bad,” said the lead author of the study, Curtis Huttenhower, an associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “But even though we think of it as dirty, the transit system has only the kind of microbes you run into shaking people’s hands.”

 

Tajikistan concerned over increasing number of botulism cases

Asia Plus reports that Tajik Deputy Prime Minister, Azim Ibrohim, who also heads the Council for Food Safety Issues, has expressed concern about increasing number of botulism cases in Tajikistan.

c.bot.cannd.vegetalesThe Council for Food Safety Issues reportedly held a meeting here yesterday.

Speaking at the meeting, Ibrohim demanded that heads of good safety management bodies give reports on implementation of the plan of work for the first half-year of 2016.

It was noted that the number of botulism cases has increased in the country and that the home-canned vegetables are the most common cause of botulism.

Ibrohim ordered the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and other relevant bodies to prepare the guide to home canning.

Ibrohim reportedly drew attention of meeting participants to slow introduction of the ISO 22000 standard.

 

Raw is risky: Canada reports 1st case this year of illness linked to eating raw oysters

CBC News reports British Columbia has recorded its first case this year of someone being sickened by eating raw oysters contaminated with Vibrio bacteria.

oysters.grillThe B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) said the illness was reported June 30 in the Vancouver area.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria grow in seawater and can end up in shellfish like oysters and clams. When water temperatures rise in the summer, the accumulations of the naturally occurring bacteria increase to the point that eating undercooked shellfish can give people nausea, fever and diarrhea.

Last year’s outbreak of the Vibrio-caused illness was the biggest in Canadian history and sickened at least 73 British Columbians. Sixty of the illnesses were due to eating contaminated raw or undercooked B.C. oysters in restaurants. The other 13 illnesses were traced to exposure to seawater with high levels of the bacteria.

At the height of the outbreak last summer, Vancouver Coastal Health ordered restaurants not to serve raw oysters harvested from B.C. waters and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a food recall for B.C. oysters. 

“Eating raw shellfish increases your risk of Vibrio and other infections,” said Dr. Eleni Galanis, epidemiologist at the BCCDC, in a release.  

“It’s best to eat them cooked, but if you choose to eat raw shellfish like oysters, then understand the risks and take steps to reduce your likelihood of illness.”

Meanwhile, Florida health officials have reported 13 Vibrio vulnificus cases as of July 5, including four fatalities thus far in 2016.

Last year, Florida saw 45 cases and 14 deaths, the most since 2003.

Healthy individuals typically develop a mild disease; however, Vibrio vulnificus infections can be a serious concern for people who have weakened immune systems, particularly those with chronic liver disease.

Oyster-Vancouver, B.C.- 07/05/07- Joe Fortes Oyster Specialist Oyster Bob Skinner samples a Fanny Bay oyster at the restuarant. Vancouver Coastal Health now requires restaurants to inform their patrons of the dangers of eating raw shellfish.  (Richard Lam/Vancouver Sun)   [PNG Merlin Archive]

So don’t be a drunk and eat raw.

I BBQ them, and prefer scallops on the half-shell.

In other Virbrio news, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have uncovered a mechanism that a type of pathogenic bacteria found in shellfish use to sense when they are in the human gut, where they release toxins that cause food poisoning.

The researchers studied Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a globally spread, Gram-negative bacterium that contaminates shellfish in warm saltwater during the summer. The bacterium thrives in coastal waters and is the world’s leading cause of acute gastroenteritis.

“During recent years, rising temperatures in the ocean have contributed to this pathogen’s worldwide dissemination,” said Dr. Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, published today in the online journal eLife.

About a dozen Vibrio species cause infection in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus is one of the three most common culprits. Vibrio infections cause an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year.

The study found that two proteins made by Vibrio parahaemolyticus work together to detect and capture bile salts in the intestines of people who eat raw or undercooked seafood containing the bacteria.

“When a person eats, acids in the stomach help break down the meal, and bile salts in the intestine aid in the solubilization of fatty food. When humans eat raw or undercooked shellfish contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, the bacteria use those same bile salts as a signal to release toxins,” said Dr. Orth, also an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), holder of the Earl A. Forsythe Chair in Biomedical Science, and a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research. Dr. Orth studies the strategies that bacterial pathogens use to outsmart their host cells.

Evidence is increasing that several bacterial pathogens that cause gastrointestinal illness, including the extremely toxic Vibrio cholerae, sense bile salts. But until now, the mechanism that those pathogens use for doing this has remained unknown, Dr. Orth said. In previous studies, only one bacterial gene had been implicated in receiving and transmitting the gut-sensing signal, Dr. Orth said.

“We discovered that not one, but two genes are required for Vibrio to receive the bile salt signal. These genes encode two proteins that form a complex on the surface of the bacterial membrane. Using X-ray crystallography, we found that these proteins create a barrel-like structure that binds bile salts and receives the signal to tell the bacterial cell to start making toxins,” she said.

Future experiments will aim to understand how binding of bile salt by this protein complex induces the release of toxins.

“Ultimately, we want to understand how other pathogenic bacteria sense environmental cues to produce toxins. With this knowledge, we might be able to design pharmaceuticals that could prevent toxin production, and ultimately avoid the damaging effects of infections,” she said.

The receptor pair could possibly act as a model to discover sensors in other bacteria where pharmaceuticals might be more applicable, Dr. Orth said, adding “we are in the early stages of this research.”

Co-lead authors were graduate student Peng Li and research scientist Dr. Giomar Rivera-Cancel, both in Molecular Biology. Other contributing authors included Dr. Lisa Kinch, an HHMI bioinformatics specialist; Dr. Dor Salomon, postdoctoral researcher; Dr. Diana Tomchick, Professor of Biophysics and Biochemistry and Director of the Structural Biology Core Facility; and Dr. Nick Grishin, Professor of Biophysics and Biochemistry, an HHMI Investigator, and a Virginia Murchison Linthicum Scholar in Biomedical Research.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Welch Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the HHMI.

And finally, bacterial infections from various organisms including Vibrio sp. pose a serious hazard to humans in many forms from clinical infection to affecting the yield of agriculture and aquaculture via infection of livestock. Vibrio sp. is one of the main foodborne pathogens causing human infection and is also a common cause of losses in the aquaculture industry. Prophylactic and therapeutic usage of antibiotics has become the mainstay of managing this problem, however this in turn led to the emergence of multidrug resistant strains of bacteria in the environment; which has raised awareness of the critical need for alternative non antibiotic based methods of preventing and treating bacterial infections. Bacteriophages – viruses that infect and result in the death of bacteria – are currently of great interest as a highly viable alternative to antibiotics. This article provides an insight into bacteriophage application in controlling Vibrio species as well underlining the advantages and drawbacks of phage therapy.

Insights into bacteriophage application in controlling Vibrio species

Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.01114

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmicb.2016.01114/abstract

Vengadesh Letchumanan,  Kok Gan Chan,  Priyia Pusparajah,  Surasak Saokaew,  Acharaporn Duangjai,  Bey Hing Goh,  Nurul-Syakima Ab Mutalib and  Learn-Han Lee

Canadian soup recalled because of C. bot risk

Raices Food Inc. is recalling Verano Food Purveyors brand Mushroom Soup from the marketplace because it may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Consumers should not consume the recalled products.

verano.soup.botThis recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) inspection activities. CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Thousands fall ill after consuming dinner at iftar party

More than 1,000 persons who were taken ill after consuming dinner at iftar party in Saifi Nagar late night on Sunday were rushed to the private hospitals.

Bollywood_18The authorities and the doctors present on the spot claimed that the numbers are expected to rise.

ADM Dilip Singh, SP Kalyan Chakravarthy who reached the spot, claimed that the state medical teams have been called in for support and they are treating the people on the spot as well as at MY and other private city hospitals.

Kangeroo poo suspect: Q fever rises in Australia

The [Illawarra] region’s public health director has moved to allay community concerns after several cases of confirmed Q fever.

kangaroo-pic-dm-530558559Curtis Gregory said 7 cases of the potentially debilitating disease had been confirmed within the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District so far this year [2016].

Statewide the number of cases has doubled in 5 years, from 130 in 2012, to 260 in 2015. In the 1st 6 months of 2016, NSW [New South Wales] Health has been notified of 88 cases.

“Q fever is a bacterial infection normally spread to humans by infected animals,” Mr Gregory said. “It’s mainly seen around agricultural and livestock industries and occupations but can be found in wildlife populations.” Mr Gregory said while case numbers were relatively low in the region, there had been some community concern over perceived hotspots. “We have seen numbers group around certain areas in the Shoalhaven like Sanctuary Point, although there have been some cases in the southern Illawarra,” he said. “We have done environmental sampling at different locations – of kangaroo and bandicoot droppings — but no positive results have been found.” Humans usually get infected by inhaling bacteria-carrying dust contaminated by animal urine, feces or birth products. “Those at higher risk of infection include abattoir and meat workers; farmers and shearers; stockyard workers and animal transporters; veterinarians and agriculture college staff and students,” Mr Gregory said. “Horticulturists or gardeners may also be concerned if there’s a lot of wildlife in the area, as activities like lawn mowing may put them at risk.”

Herpes for all in Australia: First the carp — THE CARP – now turtles

Following an impassioned speech by Australian deputy PM Barnaby Joyce (right, not exactly as shown) on government plans to deliberately infect invasive carp with herpes, an increasing number of green sea turtles on barnaby.jonesAustralia’s Great Barrier Reef, with pollution being investigated as the prime culprit.

The animals have a turtle-specific herpesvirus that causes fibropapillomatosis – a condition in which disfiguring tumours grow on the eyes, flippers, tail, shell or internal organs.

“The tumours are benign but can grow up to 30 centimetres in size and block the turtles’ vision, says Karina Jones of James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. “This means they can’t find food or see predators or boats.”

Turtles with tumours are also more vulnerable to other infections, she says. “Severely affected turtles are quite skinny and have other pathogens affecting them – that’s why they die.”

The unpublished results of surveys by Jones’s team this year show that herpesvirus is most prevalent within a narrow stretch of Cockle Bay at Magnetic Island, a popular tourist destination in the middle of the reef. Roughly half the turtles in this hotspot have fibropapillomatosis, compared with less than 10 per cent of turtles sampled across the rest of Cockle Bay.

The cause remains unclear, but environmental contaminants are at the top of the suspect list. “We see these tumours in turtles in very localised hotspots around the world where there is heavy human activity,” says Jones.