‘It’s hysteria’ 100 girls sickened in Kenya

Over 100 students from Naivasha Girls Secondary School were over the weekend treated for stomach ache and diarrhea.

Naivasha Girls Secondary SchoolThe students developed complications due to what was suspected to be a case of food poisoning. Majority of them were taken to Naivasha Hospital while others were treated on the school compound. Medical officers, however, could not ascertain whether it was a case of of food poisoning or not but alluded that the incident had an element of hysteria.

Of the students affected, two were admitted at the sub-county referral hospital and doctors said were in stable condition. A source said the problem started after a group of students started complaining of stomach ache and diarrhea. “Later, more students reported the same symptoms forcing public health officers to be called in to assess the situation,” said the source.

The officer in charge of the sub-county hospital, Joseph Mburu, said the two cases admitted at the facility were being closely monitored. He said they were suffering from hysteria but were in stable condition and would be released soon. “Though majority of the affected students were complaining of food poisoning, there is an element of hysteria in the whole situation,” said Dr Mburu. County Public Health Officer Samuel King’ori said the situation at the school had been contained.

France: Probably the meat sauce in cluster of three rare Clostridium baratii type F cases

A cluster of three cases of food-borne botulism due to Clostridium baratii type F occurred in France in August 2015.

michelle-goodfellas-sauceThe Regional Health Agency (ARS) and the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS) initiated an investigation to identify the source of contamination and to take appropriate control measures.

Foodborne botulism is primarily caused by ingestion of food contaminated by C. botulinum. Botulism caused by C. baratii is rare.

The investigation identified the ground meat used to prepare the sauce as the most probable vehicle of C. baratii contamination. However, the ultimate source and mode of contamination of the meat remain unknown. No further case was identified in France during the shelf-life of the contaminated meat despite the wide distribution of the product, and the investigation of the producer’s stored samples was negative.

goodfellasNo toxin was found in frozen and defrosted ground meat but the sauce eaten by the patients was not tested. Based on the restaurant inspection results (no temperature monitoring of stored preparations) and given the known conditions of toxin production, we can hypothesise that the botulinum toxin was produced during the sauce cooking process or storage. Indeed, preparations of a large volume of meat sauce by boiling for more than ten minutes and storage at room temperature for several hours are favourable conditions including anaerobiosis and substrate requirement for Clostridium growth and toxin production.

Airplane: 36 years later in reality

Airplane was the funniest movie I saw as a teenager, with this girl (along with Life of Brian).

lloyd.bridges.airplaneI didn’t like it the first time (because I was more interested in the girl beside me in the car, at a drive-in) but have watched it probably 40 times since and can recite the script.

Proving what true visionaries the writers were – everyone who ate fish got sick — an American Airlines plane travelling from London Heathrow to Los Angeles was forced to turn back just hours into the flight after multiple members of the crew and some passengers fell ill.

The Boeing 777 was just passing Iceland on Wednesday afternoon when it made an about turn and headed back to the capital after a number of people fell faint and one attendant collapsed in an aisle, according to several witness accounts.

The cause of the illness has not been confirmed by the airline.

Passenger Lee Gunn was onboard Flight AA109 and tweeted updates from the plane.

“About 2.5 hours into the flight just as we were passing Iceland we had a Tannoy announcement asking for any doctors, nurses or medical professionals on board to report to the boarding doors to assist with unwell passengers,” he told The Mirror.

“It was also reported that seven of the crew had fallen ill… along with ‘many’ passengers,” he added.


100 sickened: Fancy food ain’t safe food, Spain edition, with Vibrio in shrimp

We describe an outbreak of seafood-associated Vibrio parahaemolyticus in Galicia, Spain in on 18th of August 2012 affecting 100 of the 114 passengers travelling on a food banquet cruise boat. Epidemiological information from 65 people was available from follow-on interviews, of which 51 cases showed symptoms of illness.

jimmy.buffett.cruiseThe food items identified through the questionnaires as the most probable source of the infections was shrimp. This product was unique in showing a statistically significant and the highest OR with a value of 7.59 (1.52–37.71).

All the nine strains isolated from stool samples were identified as V. parahaemolyticus, seven were positive for both virulence markers tdh and trh, a single strain was positive for trh only and the remaining strain tested negative for both trh and tdh.

This is the largest foodborne Vibrio outbreak reported in Europe linked to domestically processed seafood. Moreover, this is the first instance of strains possessing both tdh+ and trh+ being implicated in an outbreak in Europe and that a combination of strains represent several pathogenicity groups and belonging to different genetic variants were isolated from a single outbreak.

Clinical isolates were associated with a novel genetic variant of V. parahaemolyticus never detected before in Europe.
Further analyses demonstrated that the outbreak isolates showed indistinguishable genetic profiles with hyper-virulent strains from the Pacific Northwest, USA, suggesting a recent transcontinental spread of these strains.

Epidemiological investigation of a foodborne outbreak in Spain associated with U.S. West Coast genotypes of Vibrio parahaemolyticus



Bubonic plague hung around in Europe

The plague bacterium Yersinia pestis may have lurked in a Medieval European reservoir for at least 300 years, researchers suggest January 13 in PLOS ONE.

thing.that.wouldn't.leave.belushiThe second of two major plague pandemics hit Europe from the 14th to 16th centuries, peaking during the Black Death from 1346 to 1353. The new study weighs in on a longstanding debate over what fed the pandemic, strains of the bacterium traveling on waves of trade from Asia via the Silk Road or a homegrown biological reservoir such as lice.

Researchers analyzed DNA from 30 skeletal remains spanning the 14th to 17th centuries. Eight carried strains of Y. pestis, and all bore genetic similarity to each other and to those found in previously sampled European plague victims. Strains from Asia would have injected more genetic variety. Instead, the results suggest that at least one strain of Y. pestis stuck around in Europe for a long time, researchers write.

The thing that wouldn’t leave from topo morto on Vimeo.

Food poisoning downs over 100 students in Phillipines

Snacks bought from the cafeteria downed over 100 students and a teacher at the Pio del Pilar Elementary School in Makati City on Thursday, according to the city health department.

inagiku-coverIn an interview on GMA News TV’s “QRT,” city health department chief Dr. Bernard Sese said the children ate biscuits, wafers and other snacks from their school cafeteria during their morning recess at 9:30 a.m.

Seven students complained of stomachaches, vomiting, and nausea by 10:30 a.m. at the school clinic and were followed shortly by a slew of others, he said.

About 44 victims were rushed to the Ospital ng Makati, where they received oral dehydration solutions. Two remained hooked to IV bags at the hospital due to intense vomiting as of Thursday afternoon.

All in all, 127 students had received treatment, the report said.

Melioidosis can live decades in distilled water, kill humans in 48 hours

Melioidosis is a disease that strikes fear in those who’ve heard of it.

MelioidosisDoctors in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia know it as a stubborn, potentially deadly infection that causes pneumonia, abscesses and, in the most severe cases, organ failure. Without treatment it can kill within 48 hours. Military officials worry it could be converted into an agent of terror.

But for decades, melioidosis seems to have lurked under the radar of global public health organizations. “For everybody, it was a disease of southeastern Asia and Australia,” says Dr. Eric Bertherat of the World Health Organization. “But we are discovering that this disease is present in many other regions worldwide.”

A new study published Monday in Nature Microbiology says the bacterium causing melioidosis, Burkholderia pseudomallei, is living in the soil and water of 45 countries and is likely spread throughout another 34 countries, all wrapped around the tropics. “[The work] demonstrates the potential burden of this disease is much bigger than what everybody expected,” Bertherat says. “165,000 cases a year. It’s a big burden, equivalent to rabies, and that’s a severe disease.”

And the death rate can be high — “up to 70 percent,” says Bertherat. The study estimates there are about 90,000 deaths each year from melioidosis, roughly the same as measles and several times that of dengue.

For doctors in areas where the disease has long been common, the numbers are a grim confirmation of old suspicions. “For us, we think it’s a reasonable number. In northeast Thailand, I see 2-3 patients die of this during the rainy season every day,” says Dr. Direk Limmathurotsakul, a microbiologist with the University of Oxford and Mahidol University in Bangkok and lead author on the study. “When I went to Indonesia, every lab we looked, we found this disease. We feel this is a minimum number.”

The disease has probably been killing people in these countries for years, but it’s often missed, says Dr. Bart Currie, a microbiologist at Menzies School of Health Research in Australia who did not work on the study. Because the symptoms are so nonspecific, abscesses and fever and sepsis can all occur in other bacterial infections, melioidosis earned the moniker “the Great Mimicker.” “This very potentially dangerous bacterium is even harder to diagnose than the standard bacterium,” Currie says.

Misdiagnosis is a common problem in areas where the disease is not well-known — and can be fatal, says Limmathurotsakul. “It’s worrying for areas outside of our research center [in northeastern Thailand]. And we know that’s happening in many emerging areas – like India, Brazil, Indonesia,” he says.

  1. pseudomallei is naturally resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics. With good supporting care and access to proper medications, fatalities drop to around 1 in 10, and most healthy adults are able to survive an infection with good care. Otherwise, death sets in quickly. “There are many who have been treated with ineffective antibiotics for a period, says Limmathurotsakul. But by the time the disease is confirmed as melioidosis, he notes, “most of the time, the patient has already passed away.”

Beaver fever in U.S., 1971–2011

My friend was at his cabin near Algonquin Park (that’s in Canada) and twittered that his wife wanted to know if it was OK to use stream water to boil potatoes.

french.dont.eat.poopHe said sure, as long as you don’t mind the beaver poop.

We’ve had a long tradition of don’t eat poop, but if you do, make sure it’s cooked.

Giardia intestinalis is the leading parasitic aetiology of human enteric infections in the United States, with an estimated 1·2 million cases occurring annually. To better understand transmission, we analysed data on all giardiasis outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 1971–2011.

The 242 outbreaks, affecting ~41 000 persons, resulted from waterborne (74·8%), foodborne (15·7%), person-to-person (2·5%), and animal contact (1·2%) transmission. Most (74·6%) waterborne outbreaks were associated with drinking water, followed by recreational water (18·2%). Problems with water treatment, untreated groundwater, and distribution systems were identified most often during drinking water-associated outbreak investigations; problems with water treatment declined after the 1980s. Most recreational water-associated outbreaks were linked to treated swimming venues, with pools and wading pools implicated most often. Produce was implicated most often in foodborne outbreaks. Additionally, foods were most commonly prepared in a restaurant and contaminated by a food handler.

giardia-posterLessons learned from examining patterns in outbreaks over time can help prevent future disease. Groundwater and distribution system vulnerabilities, inadequate pool disinfection, fruit and vegetable contamination, and poor food handler hygiene are promising targets for giardiasis prevention measures.

Giardiasis outbreaks in the United States, 1971–2011


Epidemiology and Infection

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0950268815003040

E.A. Adam, J.S. Yoder, L.H. Gould, M.C. Hlavsa, and W. Gargano



I’m a heterosexual man or not: Roman toilets gave no clear health benefit, and Romanization actually spread parasites

The Romans are well known for introducing sanitation technology to Europe around 2,000 years ago, including public multi-seat latrines with washing facilities, sewerage systems, piped drinking water from aqueducts, and heated public baths for washing. Romans also developed laws designed to keep their towns free of excrement and rubbish.

However, new archaeological research has revealed that — for all their apparently hygienic innovations — intestinal parasites such as whipworm, roundworm and Entamoeba histolytica dysentery did not decrease as expected in Roman times compared with the preceding Iron Age, they gradually increased.

The latest research was conducted by Dr Piers Mitchell from Cambridge’s Archaeology and Anthropology Department and is published in the journal Parasitology. The study is the first to use the archaeological evidence for parasites in Roman times to assess “the health consequences of conquering an empire.”

Dr Piers Mitchell brought together evidence of parasites in ancient latrines, human burials and ‘coprolites’ — or fossilised faeces — as well as in combs and textiles from numerous Roman Period excavations across the Roman Empire.

Not only did certain intestinal parasites appear to increase in prevalence with the coming of the Romans, but Mitchell also found that, despite their famous culture of regular bathing, ‘ectoparasites’ such as lice and fleas were just as widespread among Romans as in Viking and medieval populations, where bathing was not widely practiced.

Some excavations revealed evidence for special combs to strip lice from hair, and delousing may have been a daily routine for many people living across the Roman Empire

Piers Mitchell said: “Modern research has shown that toilets, clean drinking water and removing faeces from the streets all decrease risk of infectious disease and parasites. So we might expect the prevalence of faecal oral parasites such as whipworm and roundworm to drop in Roman times — yet we find a gradual increase. The question is why?”

One possibility Mitchell offers is that it may have actually been the warm communal waters of the bathhouses that helped spread the parasitic worms. Water was infrequently changed in some baths, and a scum would build on the surface from human dirt and cosmetics. “Clearly, not all Roman baths were as clean as they might have been,” said Mitchell.

Another possible explanation raised in the study is the Roman use of human excrement as a crop fertilizer. While modern research has shown this does increase crop yields, unless the faeces are composted for many months before being added to the fields, it can result in the spread of parasite eggs that can survive in the grown plants.

“It is possible that sanitation laws requiring the removal of faeces from the streets actually led to reinfection of the population as the waste was often used to fertilise crops planted in farms surrounding the towns,” said Mitchell.

The study found fish tapeworm eggs to be surprisingly widespread in the Roman Period compared to Bronze and Iron Age Europe. One possibility Mitchell suggests for the rise in fish tapeworm is the Roman love of a sauce called garum.

Made from pieces of fish, herbs, salt and flavourings, garum was used as both a culinary ingredient and a medicine. This sauce was not cooked, but allowed to ferment in the sun. Garum was traded right across the empire, and may have acted as the “vector” for fish tapeworm, says Mitchell.

“The manufacture of fish sauce and its trade across the empire in sealed jars would have allowed the spread of the fish tapeworm parasite from endemic areas of northern Europe to all people across the empire. This appears to be a good example of the negative health consequences of conquering an empire,” he said.

The study shows a range of parasites infected people living in the Roman Empire, but did they try to treat these infections medically? While Mitchell says care must be taken when relating ancient texts to modern disease diagnoses, some researchers have suggested that intestinal worms described by Roman medical practitioner Galen (130AD — 210AD) may include roundworm, pinworm and a species of tapeworm.

Galen believed these parasites were formed from spontaneous generation in putrefied matter under the effect of heat. He recommended treatment through modified diet, bloodletting, and medicines believed to have a cooling and drying effect, in an effort to restore balance to the ‘four humours’: black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm.

Added Mitchell: “This latest research on the prevalence of ancient parasites suggests that Roman toilets, sewers and sanitation laws had no clear benefit to public health. The widespread nature of both intestinal parasites and ectoparasites such as lice also suggests that Roman public baths surprisingly gave no clear health benefit either.”

“It seems likely that while Roman sanitation may not have made people any healthier, they would probably have smelt better.

Spread of algal toxin through marine food web broke records in 2015

Domoic acid was one of the first things I wrote about as I tipped my toes into science writing (who doesn’t experiment in college, especially with acid).

domoic.acid.algaeResearchers monitoring the unprecedented bloom of toxic algae along the west coast of North America in 2015 found record levels of the algal toxin domoic acid in samples from a wide range of marine organisms. The toxin was also detected for the first time in the muscle tissue or filet of several commercial fish species.

Investigations led by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, help explain the extraordinary duration and intensity of the 2015 domoic acid event, the spread of the toxin through the marine food web, and its persistence in Dungeness crab months after the algal bloom disappeared from coastal waters. Ocean scientist Raphael Kudela, the Lynn Professor of Ocean Health at UC Santa Cruz, will present the latest research findings at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco on Friday, December 18.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a type of microscopic algae called Pseudo-nitzschia that occurs naturally in coastal waters. Blooms of the toxic algae along the California coast typically occur in the spring and fall and last just a few weeks. This year, however, unusual oceanographic conditions (unrelated to El Niño) led to the largest and longest-lasting bloom ever recorded.

“The duration of the bloom and the intensity of the toxicity were unprecedented, and that led to record levels of the toxin in species such as anchovies, razor clams, and crabs,” Kudela said. “We also saw the toxin in organisms and parts of organisms where we thought it was not supposed to be, like the filets of fish.”

Monitoring programs are in place to ensure the safety of seafood for human consumption, leading to the closure of several west coast fisheries and the delayed opening of the Dungeness crab season. In humans, domoic acid poisoning is also known as amnesic shellfish poisoning because it may cause permanent loss of short-term memory, as well as neurological and gastrointestinal symptoms. In 1987, four people died of domoic acid poisoning in Canada after eating contaminated mussels, but such cases are rare.

The levels of toxin detected this year in the filets of salmon, rockfish, and ling cod were well below the regulatory limits, Kudela said. But once the toxin gets into the muscle tissue, it will stay in the fish and in the food web much longer than if it is just in the intestinal track.

Story Source: The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of California, Santa Cruz. The original item was written by Tim Stephens.