Plague in domestic cats — Idaho, 2016

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in May 2015, Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, was identified in dead Piute ground squirrels (Urocitellus mollis) reported through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s wildlife mortality monitoring program; in June 2015, the Idaho Division of Public Health (DPH) sent an advisory to veterinarians in four southwestern Idaho counties requesting that they notify their local public health officials of suspected plague in animals.* Y. pestis was not confirmed in any pets during 2015.

yersinia-pestisDuring May 30–July 26, 2016, local veterinarians notified public health officials that five dogs and 12 cats were being evaluated for possible plague. Local veterinarians also performed necropsies, when applicable, to establish the diagnosis. Idaho’s Central District Health Department and Eastern Idaho Public Health coordinated with DPH on submission of specimens to the DPH Bureau of Laboratories for Y. pestis testing and interviewed veterinary staff and pet owners. Specimens from blood, spleen, liver, and lymph nodes were screened using real–time polymerase chain reaction and confirmed by culture and phage lysis testing.

sorenne-cats-aug-15Among evaluated animals, Y. pestis was isolated from six of 12 cats; five of the six were from areas in southwestern Idaho where dead ground squirrels with confirmed Y. pestis had been reported in May 2016, and one was from from eastern Idaho. Among these six cats, specimen collection occurred during May 31–July 12, 2016; cats ranged in age from 10 months to 14.5 years (median = 4 years), four (67%) were male, five (83%) resided both indoors and outdoors, and one resided outdoor only. All six cats were domestic shorthair breed and had been neutered or spayed. Fever and lymphadenopathy (n = 4, 67%) were the most commonly reported signs of illness. None of the cats had known pulmonary involvement. Three of the six cats were treated with appropriate antibiotics (1); of these, two survived and one was euthanatized. The three other cats had died or had been euthanatized. All six cats reportedly had contact with ground squirrels and other wild rodents or rabbits before becoming ill; one had flea control administered before illness onset.

Cat owners, their household members, and veterinary staff were advised to be alert for fever and other plague symptoms (2) in themselves and other pets that might have had contact with the ill cats. Veterinary staff members were reminded about methods to prevent occupational exposure when managing pets suspected of having plague (1). In June 2016, an updated plague advisory was sent to veterinarians in four southwestern Idaho counties and eight eastern Idaho counties. Local public health districts used the Idaho Health Alert Network to enhance situational awareness among health care providers and issue guidance on management and reporting of plague cases. Public communication strategies to raise awareness about the risk for and prevention of Y. pestistransmission to persons and pets included an online map of plague-affected areas, warnings posted in affected public areas, and press releases advising residents about preventive measures. No human plague cases were reported.

Cat-associated human plague cases, including fatalities, have been reported in the western United States since 1977 (3). Compared with dogs, cats are highly susceptible to plague illness and can transmit disease to humans directly through exposure to respiratory droplets and infectious body fluids associated with bites or scratches (1). Cats could also carry infected fleas into households. Y. pestis–infected cats usually develop fever, anorexia, lethargy, and lymphadenitis (submandibular in approximately 75% of cases); approximately 10% of cases are pneumonic (4) and present the most risk to pet owners and veterinary staff members. During 1926–2012, six (43%) of all primary pneumonic cases of human plague that occurred in the United States had contact with domestic cats (5). No plague vaccine for pets is available.

Veterinarians should consider the diagnosis of plague in pets, including cats, with compatible signs and exposure to rodent habitats, rodents, or ill pets in areas where plague is endemic or epizootic. Suspicion of plague should trigger the following actions by veterinary staff: 1) implementation of personal protective measures, including wearing masks and gloves; 2) isolation of the ill pet; 3) assessment of pulmonary involvement; 4) initiation of diagnostic testing for Y. pestis; 5) prompt administration of antibiotic therapy; 6) implementation of flea control for affected animals and the hospital environment; 7) provision of advice on household flea control to pet owner; and 8) notification of public health officials (1). Pet owners can reduce the risk for plague in pets by controlling pet roaming, implementing a flea control program, and minimizing rodent habitats and food sources inside and outside the home. Additional information on prevention of plague is available at http://www.cdc.gov/plague/prevention/index.html.

63 sick: Wisconsin band students suffer ‘violent’ illness at Indy championship game

Dozens of University of Wisconsin-Madison band members suffered illnesses during Saturday’s Big Ten Championship football game in Indianapolis, a university spokeswoman said.

wisconsin-barf-bandUW-Madison media relations Director Meredith McGlone told News 3 that just before kickoff Saturday night, some members of the UW Marching Band began experiencing nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. As the game progressed, more members fell ill and were treated by onsite medical personnel. UW Band Director Mike Leckrone said most students started getting sick right before half time.

“Nobody had to run off the field, thankfully,” Leckrone said. “But there were a few that the moment they got off the field, they headed for the garbage can. They probably shouldn’t have gone on, they were feeling a little queasy. But it gets to be the call of the show time, and they wanted to perform.”

 

Raw is risky: Searching for answers behind Vibrio-in-raw-oyster outbreaks

Michael Casey of The Charlotte Observer reports that for the past 25 years, researcher Stephen Jones has tried to understand the threat that bacteria may pose to oysters in New Hampshire’s Great Bay estuary. He often couldn’t get funding to study the problem. But that is beginning to change as scientists notice “something is going on.”

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]

Scientists are recognizing that a waterborne disease sickening tens of thousands of people each year is associated with warmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico moving northward, partly due to climate change. The problem is extremely rare in New Hampshire and neighboring Maine, but scientists have seen cases elsewhere in New England and expect it to become a bigger problem.

Cases of human illness have been piling up since Sept. in Florida, Massachusetts and Western Canada.

“We have this situation in the northern part of the United States and other cooler climates where people haven’t thought this had been a problem,” said Jones, of the Northeast Center for Vibrio Disease and Ecology at the University of New Hampshire. “In the last 10 or 20 years, it’s become very apparent that there is something going on.”

In a paper in the science journal PLOS One, Jones and other scientists reported their findings that illnesses from vibrio bacteria have jumped significantly in New England — from five cases in 2000 to 147 in 2013. Disease-causing bacteria can contaminate oysters, leading to infections such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Jones and his colleague, Cheryl Whistler, concluded that warmer waters in the Great Bay, higher salinity and the presence of chlorophyll all contributed to higher concentrations of one of the more common vibrio species that makes people sick — vibrio parahaemolyticus. The researchers are hoping their findings will serve as the foundation of an early warning system for the region’s booming oyster industry.

oysters-grillCurrently, all experts can do is monitor the waters and rapidly cool harvested oyster to halt bacteria growth.

An August report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that warming waters were linked to waterborne food poisoning, especially from eating raw oysters.

“There is similar reporting in Alaska where it has been found that increased cases have been occurring where it has not been reported before because of the temperature rise,” said the study’s lead author, Rita Colwell, of the University of Maryland.

The industry has welcomed Jones and Whistler’s work, noting that outbreaks like the one that occurred last month in Massachusetts need to be avoided. Nearly 75 people were sickened.

“When you are involved with a recall because people have gotten sick, you are a losing tremendous amount of money and a tremendous amount of credibility,” said Tom Howell, president of Spinney Creek Shellfish Inc., in Eliot, Maine, which harvests oysters from the Great Bay. A predictive model would allow the industry to move more aggressively to avoid an outbreak, he said.

But Howell and Chris Nash, New Hampshire’s shellfish program manager, said that day could be far off.

“We are still learning what seems to trigger these pathogenic strains to multiply … We don’t have that knowledge yet and it may be that we never do,” Nash said. “We are talking about biological organisms … They react to their environment different, the same way humans do.”

Campy cases linked to raw milk dairy in Ohio

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is issuing a health alert for unpasteurized raw milk and raw milk products from Sweet Grass Dairy’s herd share, due to contamination with Campylobacter. Sweet Grass Dairy is located in Knox County at 6049 Bryant Rd., Fredericktown, OH 43019.

sweet-grass-dairyThis alert is the result of an investigation by ODA and the Ohio Department of Health after foodborne illnesses were reported in Franklin County. Later testing confirmed a connection between the illnesses and raw milk from Sweet Grass Dairy.

3 sick with botulism in Spain and Germany linked to dried salted fish

Two cases of botulism in the province of Alicante and another in Germany linked to a brand of dried salted fish produced in The Netherlands has led to it being withdrawn from sale in various parts of Spain.

dried-roach-fish-salted-hanged-log-wall-drying-50980748Salted roach (rutilus rutilus, known in Spanish and branded as such in supermarkets asrutilo), stocked in refrigeration cabinets and bearing the identification number NL-6114-EG, distributed by Monolith Alimentos España Sur (in Valencia) and Norte (in Catalunya) has been taken off the shelves after two consumers in the province of Alicante reported having been apparently affected by the bug.

Both showed ‘very similar symptoms’, although it has yet to be confirmed whether they caught botulism from eating dried roach.

All supermarkets and delicatessens in the towns of Dénia, Altea, La Nucia, Torrevieja, Benidorm, Orihuela and Alicante city have taken it off the shelves, as have those in the province of Castellón, Gandia (Valencia province) and Valencia city.

In Catalunya, shops in Barcelona, Badalona and Sabadell (Barcelona province), Salou (Tarragona province) and Lleida have withdrawn it from sale.

The Spanish Consumer, Food Safety and Nutrition Agency (AECOSAN), part of the ministry of health, says it has received a European alert after a case of botulism in Germany thought to have been caused by the same product.

Vaccines work: Backpacker, 25, left bedridden in Vietnam after sampling iced coffee

Sinead MacLaughlin of the Daily Mail reports a simple sip from an iced coffee containing contaminated ice cubes left one backpacker bed-ridden in excruciating pain while on holiday.

ice-vietnam-sophiaInstead of seeing the stunning sights of Vietnam and lying on the beach with her friends, Sophia Brockman, 25, spent half of her holiday lying in the fetal position in bed.

‘We knew we weren’t supposed to be drinking the iced drinks but we wanted to have cocktails and try the ice coffee and street food that South-East Asia is famous for’, she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

‘I would totally say that we had a YOLO [you only live once] attitude during this trip,’ Ms Brockman said. 

The Sydney ex-pat, originally from the US, was forced to spend $300 on antibiotics after coming down with severe food poisoning from the tainted coffee.

But despite the serious pain she was in, the 25-year-old says it could have been a lot worse considering she wasn’t vaccinated before the trip.  

A survey of 1004 travelers by pharmaceutical company Sanofi found that Australians often take unnecessary risks when it comes to their safety by eating street vendors food and sleeping outdoors.

One-third prioritised travel insurance over vaccinations.

‘It’s quite common for travelers to think they’re safe if they’ve traveled to the destination before, or that travel insurance is enough protection and vaccinations aren’t needed,’ travel health specialist Dr Sarah Chu told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

‘But I can assure you the risk of falling sick is very real and can happen to anyone.’ 

 

Low incidence of TSEs in the EU, says EFSA

EFSA has published its first EU summary report on the monitoring of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) in cattle, sheep and goats. Previously, the annual reports on TSEs were compiled by the European Commission.

TSEs are a group of diseases that affect the brain and nervous system of humans and animals.  With the exception of Classical BSE, there is no scientific evidence that other TSEs can be transmitted to humans.

mad-cows-mothers-milkA low number of BSE cases in cattle were detected in EU Member States, none of which entered the food chain.

Some of the main findings of the report are:

Five cases of BSE in cattle have been reported in the EU, out of about 1.4 million animals tested.

641 cases of scrapie in sheep (out of 319,638 tested) and 1,052 in goats have been reported (out of 135,857 tested) in the EU.

This report provides results on data collected by all EU Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland for 2015 on the occurrence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy

Surely you can’t be cereus: Pay attention to temperature control, esp when cooking for large numbers

The aim of this study was to identify and characterise Bacillus cereus from a unique national collection of 564 strains associated with 140 strong-evidence food-borne outbreaks (FBOs) occurring in France during 2007 to 2014.

surely-you-cant-be-seriousStarchy food and vegetables were the most frequent food vehicles identified; 747 of 911 human cases occurred in institutional catering contexts. Incubation period was significantly shorter for emetic strains compared with diarrhoeal strains.

A sub-panel of 149 strains strictly associated to 74 FBOs and selected on Coliphage M13-PCR pattern, was studied for detection of the genes encoding cereulide, diarrhoeic toxins (Nhe, Hbl, CytK1 and CytK2) and haemolysin (HlyII), as well as panC phylogenetic classification. This clustered the strains into 12 genetic signatures (GSs) highlighting the virulence potential of each strain. GS1 (nhe genes only) and GS2 (nhe, hbl and cytK2), were the most prevalent GS and may have a large impact on human health as they were present in 28% and 31% of FBOs, respectively.

Our study provides a convenient molecular scheme for characterisation of B. cereus strains responsible for FBOs in order to improve the monitoring and investigation of B. cereus-induced FBOs, assess emerging clusters and diversity of strains.

Baccillus cereus-induced food-borne outbreaks in France, 2007 to 2014: Epidemiology and genetic characteristics

Eurosurveillance, Vol 21, Issue 48, 01 December 2016

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22657

Salmonella everywhere and i love science: Food regulators in Virginia seize adulterated milk products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that the U.S. Marshals Service seized more than 4 million pounds of product produced by Valley Milk Products LLC (Valley Milk) of Strasburg, Virginia. The company is owned by the Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association Inc. in Reston, Virginia. The seized products include dry nonfat milk powder and buttermilk powder packaged in 40- and 50-pound bags for further manufacturing and are worth nearly $4 million.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the complaint, on behalf of the FDA, in the U.S. District Court for the Virginia Western District, alleging that the seized products are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

During an FDA inspection of Valley Milk from July – September 2016, FDA investigators observed poor sanitary practices and reviewed the company’s records, which showed positive results for Salmonella in the plant’s internal environmental and finished product samples. FDA investigators observed residues on internal parts of the processing equipment after it had been cleaned by the company and water dripping from the ceiling onto food manufacturing equipment. In addition, environmental swabs collected during the inspection confirmed the presence of Salmonella meleagridis on surfaces food came into contact with after being pasteurized. Throughout the investigation, the FDA worked closely with the Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“The FDA urged Valley Milk to conduct a voluntary recall of the implicated products,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “The firm refused to recall and, as a result, we have had to intervene and seize this adulterated food to prevent it from reaching consumers who could be exposed to Salmonella from these products.”

The FDA used a bacterial typing tool called whole genome sequencing (WGS) to link the samples collected in the facility over time. WGS technology can show the relationship among isolates of bacterial pathogens found in the environment, a food source or a person who became ill from consuming contaminated food. The sampling results indicate that the Salmonella strains from 2016 are nearly identical to Salmonella strains found at the company in 2010, 2011 and 2013. These findings of Salmonella meleagridis at the company dating back several years demonstrate the existence of a persistent strain of Salmonella at this facility.

Salmonella is a pathogenic bacterium that can contaminate foods and which may result in gastroenteritis or other serious clinical conditions, including septicemia, arterial infections, endocarditis and septic arthritis. Most people recover from salmonellosis in four to seven days without treatment but about one person in every thousand with salmonellosis dies.

Valley Milk is currently not producing dry powdered milk products. No illnesses linked to Valley Milk products have been reported to date. Consumers can report problems with FDA-regulated products to their district office consumer complaint coordinator.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Flesh-eating bacteria traced to tilapia bought from Washington market

Vernal Coleman of the Seattle Times reports that fish bought from a Bellevue supermarket is the likely source of a woman’s rare, life-threatening bacterial infection, according to health officials.

vibrio_vulnificus_1001390000_20131014185507_640_480The woman was diagnosed with Vibrio vulnificus on Nov. 10, said officials with Public Health — Seattle & King County. Often found in contaminated seawater, the infection can cause symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to flesh-eating skin wounds.

Officials suspect the woman was infected after cutting her finger while preparing the fish. According to officials, the woman, who is in her 50s, bought the tilapia fish from the Asian Food Center, at 14509 N.E. 20th St. She was later hospitalized and has since returned home.

The supermarket’s fish stock was disposed of, while the tanks and other equipment used to process fish at the market were decommissioned until they can be cleaned and disinfected, officials said. Department investigators will work with the Food and Drug Administration to investigate any food and product distributors found to be the source of contaminated food, officials said.