100 sick: Outbreak at Gozo Malta’s old people’s home, sounds like Gozer from Ghostbusters

A considerable number of patients currently residing in Dar Sant Anna, the home for the elderly in Victoria, Gozo, are affected with some form of stomach bug, the Malta Independent has learnt. 

This newspaper is informed that the security personnel at the residence were told not to let anyone inside because of the high risk of contagion. 

It turns out that out of the 100 residents, some 80 were affected by the bug, which is causing patients to experience stomach pain, vomiting and fever.

I miss Harold Ramis.

 

Infant botulism claims 6-month-old Tokyo boy who was fed honey

The Japan Times reports that a 6-month-old boy in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, died late last month of infant botulism after his family fed him honey, according to the metropolitan government.

Metropolitan officials said it was the first death caused by infant botulism in Japan since 1986, when the government began compiling such statistics.

The officials warned that babies younger than 1 should not be given honey.

They said the Adachi boy died March 30. He developed a cough on Feb. 16, and was taken to a hospital by ambulance on Feb. 20 after going into convulsions and suffering respiratory failure. He was diagnosed Feb. 28 as having infant botulism.

The officials said the boy’s family had been giving him honey mixed in juice twice a day for about a month, and that they were not aware babies should not be fed honey.

The bacteria Clostridium botulinum was found in an unsealed honey container in the family’s house and in the boy’s excrement. A public health center confirmed that the boy’s death was caused by botulism poisoning.

Infant botulism can occur when newborns, who have immature digestive systems, ingest bacteria that produces toxins inside the bowels.

 

‘We meet all standards’ Fresh Express uses Pinto defense after dead bat found in salad

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working with the Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support an investigation of a dead bat that was found in a packaged salad purchased from a grocery store in Florida. Two people in Florida reported eating some of the salad before the bat was found. The bat was sent to the CDC rabies lab for laboratory testing because bats in the United States sometimes have been found to have this disease. The deteriorated condition of the bat did not allow for CDC to definitively rule out whether this bat had rabies.

Transmission of rabies by eating a rabid animal is extremely uncommon, and the virus does not survive very long outside of the infected animal. CDC is supporting Florida local and state health officials in evaluating the people who found the bat in the salad. In this circumstance, the risk of rabies transmission is considered to be very low, but because it isn’t zero, the two people who ate salad from the package that contained the bat were recommended to begin post-exposure rabies treatment. Both people report being in good health and neither has any signs of rabies. CDC is not aware of any other reports of bat material found in packaged salads.

On April 8, 2017, Fresh Express issued a recall of a limited number of cases of Organic Marketside Spring Mix. The salads were sold in a clear container with production code G089B19 and best-if-used-by date of APR 14, 2017 located on the front label. The recalled salads were distributed only to Walmart stores located in the Southeastern region of the United States. All remaining packages of salad from the same lot have been removed from all store locations where the salad was sold.

The company said in a statement it worked quickly with officials to remove the entire batch of salads from store shelves, and only one line of its products had been affected.

“Fresh Express takes matters of food safety very seriously and rigorously complies with all food safety regulations including the proscribed Good Agricultural Practices.”

Maybe install bat filters as the lettuce goes through a wash?

Food poisoning strikes 27 monks and nuns in Cambodia

Pech Sotheary of the Khmer Times reports that 27 monks and nuns from Battambang province’s Bavel district were struck with food poisoning after consuming large amounts of soy milk.

District police chief Oeum Tith said yesterday that 14 monks and 13 nuns from the Bavel pagoda started showing symptoms of food poisoning after an ordination ceremony. They are all in a stable condition after being sent to the commune’s health center.

 “The main cause is likely the homemade soy milk because about 10 to 15 minutes after they drank it, they started displaying symptoms of food poisoning. However we’re still waiting on the official results from the experts,” Mr. Tith said.

Provincial health department officer Voeung Bun Reth said a preliminary investigation showed the tainted soy milk to have been the cause, coupled with the fact that the recently-ordained monks had consumed it in large amounts as a food substitute.

 “Young monks aren’t used to skipping dinner. So they drank too much soy milk after they were ordained yesterday morning,” he said.

 “Once they are ordained, they cannot have dinner based on the rules of the religion, so they drank too much soy milk instead, which caused them to vomit. But now they’re better and there is no problem.” He also urged anyone producing or consuming food products to pay special attention to food safety guidelines to avoid making consumers ill.

Fall fairytale: Lawsuit filed after crypto-in-apple-cider sickened more than 100 in 2015

In Oct. 2015, fall festival revellers flocked to the Pike Country Color Drive in Pike County, Illinois, and a bunch of them were soon barfing.

Unpasteurized apple cider – a staple of the northern U.S. and Canadian fall festival circuit was blamed for causing more than 100 people to fall ill with cryptosporidiosis.

Nick Draper of My Journal Courier reports a lawsuit has now been files against several groups, including the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and the Barry Business Association.

Melissa Kinman of Quincy filed the civil action against Steven and Linda Yoder of Yoder Brothers Dairy Farm, the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and the Barry Business Association. In it, she contends the Yoders were selling and offering free samples of unpasteurized cider that was tainted with Cryptosporidium.

The outbreak sickened people ranging in age from less than 1 year old to 89 years old.

Health workers from Pike and Adams counties, the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began investigating reports of profuse or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and vomiting. Tests done in December 2015 by the CDC confirmed there was cider contaminated with Cryptosporidium.

Cider was not sold at last year’s drive after officials decided to pull the product.

A list of cider and juice-related outbreaks — 84 outbreaks leading to over 3,500 illnesses going back to 1924 – is available here.

http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Juice-related-outbreaks-11-5-15.xlsx

Leftover rice risks from Lifehacker

One of my former roommates was a straight edge punk-loving vegan for a while. Now he eats meat and drinks beer, but for a while he survived on rice and sriracha. Sometimes he left his steamed rice out overnight – making some egg-free fried rice the next day. This was before either of us knew much about Bacillus cereus and rice.

Earlier this week Claire Lower from Lifehacker emailed a couple of questions about leftover rice safety. The Lifehacker folks often ask really good questions about the science and why behind food safety recommendations – Claire included. Claire wanted to know why some guidelines say not to leave rice out on the stove over night.

I sent Claire a couple of papers including this one which is an oldie (1974), but a goodie from Gilbert and colleagues which included this awesome B. cereus spore/vegetative cell growth figure (right, exactly as shown) highlighting anincrease of a log or more within 4 hours once in vegetative state.

We looped Don into our discussion and he pointed out the somewhat common practice of boiled and then fried rice in some Asian cooking techniques.

According to Benjamin Chapman, Food Safety Specialist from North Carolina State University, cooking rice doesn’t necessarily kill all the pathogens that may be lurking about. “The issue with rice,” he explained to me over email, “is that one pathogen, Bacillus cereus, is quite prevalent in dried rice (some sources say ubiquitous), likely as spores. The spores may survive cooking. If cooked rice is subsequently held at room temperature, the spores can come out of their protective form, germinate, and vegetative forms multiply. The cooked rice environment provides a lot of water and nutrients for growth. As a by-product of growth, they create a couple of toxins, including a heat-stable one.”

Beyond refrigerating any home-cooked rice, a sense of vigilance is helpful when dining out. According to food scientist Donald Schaffner of Rutgers University, some restaurants “cook up a large batch of rice, hold it at room temperature all day,” and then take portions from the batch as needed. “Because Bacillus makes a heat stable toxin,” he explained “this is not a best practice, and has led to outbreaks in the past.” “Heat stable” means that the toxin can survive boiling and, once the rice is cooled into the “danger zone” of 59-122°F, the bacteria can multiply, making even more of the toxin. Sushi rice, he noted, shouldn’t be a problem as vinegar is added to lower the pH, allowing it to be held safely at room temperature.

Heaven on Earth rescue farm linked to crypto outbreak

Farm sanctuaries sound nice, former Daily Show host Jon Stewart and his partner run several.

But does Jon Stewart know microbiology?

Visitors to the popular Heaven on Earth animal rescue farm in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania (which Stewart is not affiliated with, that I know of), have come down with a variety of stomach illnesses linked to the farm, state health officials said Friday.

“At least five laboratory-confirmed cryptosporidium infections and at least six compatible illnesses have been associated with this farm,” the state Department of Health said Friday in a health advisory.

Hundreds of people may have been exposed to infected young goats and calves in the last four or five weeks since the public was invited to help feed the animals at the 3868 Bethman Road farm just east of Route 33, the advisory noted.

The Health Department is asking that all those who became ill after visiting the farm contact the department at 877-PA-HEALTH and consult their personal doctors.

Meanwhile, Heaven on Earth Farm owner Jahjah Melhem announced Friday the farm is no longer open to the public.

“In the past four years, Heaven on Earth Farm has had the pleasure of meeting so many of you. There has been a ton of love and support that visited the property at any given time,” Melhem says on the farm’s Facebook page. “We have decided that it is in our best interest to close the farm to the public so that we can focus on the well-being of the animals.”

He said he is working with the Health Department to determine the origin of the reported sicknesses. He said he isn’t sure anyone was infected at the farm, but it is possible.

“People come every day with their kids and we never had a problem,” Melhem said. “I’m fine. I’m here every day. Three or four women are here every day and none of them are sick.”

The farm has attracted 600 people since mid-February to help Melhem with 30 baby goats he rescued to avoid their slaughter. He asked for volunteers, he said, because the goats needed bottle-feeding four times a day.

On Thursday, a Health Department researcher told him she had three or four cases of people who visited the farm becoming sick later. Since then, the department has associated additional illnesses with the farm.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-4-8-14.xlsx.

Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions

Zoonoses and Public Health 62:90-99, 2015

G. Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman  and D. Powell

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zph.12117/abstract?deniedAccess

Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the US caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

 

Unwrapping a tamale drama on Christmas

At Amapola market in Downey, people stood in line for hours last week for the famous masa, the ground cornmeal for tamales — centerpiece of many a Christmas dinner.

getimage-ashxLoyal customers came from miles around for 30-and 40-pound batches that they would use in their elaborate holiday cooking ritual. But this year, they found themselves scrambling for doctors’ numbers, sending guests home hungry and rummaging through cupboards for backup plans.

At Maria Coronado’s house, dozens of guests made do with a desperate meal of spaghetti and nachos. The tamales had turned out gloppy, and her husband felt so sick after a few bites that he had to visit the doctor.

“We didn’t have dinner for Christmas,” said Coronado, 51, who has shopped at Amapola markets for 30 years and has always regarded their masa as excellent, well worth the drive from her home in Riverside.

She was back in line Monday, waiting for a refund of the $143 she spent, along with hundreds of others complaining of bad tamales, stomach cramps, fever, nauseated children — and ruined Christmases. Others were lining up at Amapola stores in Compton, Paramount and West Covina.

“We’re devastated,” said Carlos Galvan Jr., the company’s vice president and chief financial officer. “We’re not entirely sure yet what occurred.”

Galvan, whose father and grandfather started the market chain in 1961, said the bad tamales seem to stem from a problem with a 120,000-pound supply of raw corn purchased from a longtime California vendor, though he refused to provide the name. He said Amapola has since switched vendors.

Diner that catered lunch for health types didn’t have permit ‘We expect they would refuse our request’

The restaurant that provided the meal that sickened at least 70 state health department workers in Santa Fe, NM, didn’t have a permit to cater events.

kick-ass-sandwich-shopThe New Mexico Environment Department says the diner — until recently called the Bad Ass Sandwich Shop but now called the Kick Ass Sandwich Shop because of a legal dispute, see the NSFV video below – will be served with a notice of violation for not having a catering permit.

Paul Rhien, a spokesman for the Health Department, said Friday that epidemiology tests confirmed the contamination came from the restaurant’s food.

Shannon Quintana of Kick Ass Sandwich Shop couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. He told the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper that he didn’t cater the Dec. 14 lunch and that the Health Department had ordered food from Kick Ass to be served alongside other dishes brought by employees.

But Rhien told Mark Oswald of the Albuquerque Journal the restaurant set up a buffet line and served food, and there weren’t many food items prepared by Health Department workers.

The Health Department’s holiday lunch, which was held in the department’s offices at the Runnels Building – where employees headquartered there are the same ones who investigate disease outbreaks around the state – resulted in “reports of a number of employees becoming ill with mild gastrointestinal illness,” according to a message sent to employees Monday by Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher.

More than 200 department workers are estimated to have attended and about 71 reported gastrointestinal symptoms that developed within 24 to 48 hours.

Rhien said Friday that the Department of Health was not aware the sandwich shop didn’t have a catering permit. “If a restaurant doesn’t have the appropriate permit, we would expect them to refuse our request to cater an event — just as anyone would expect,” he said in an e-mail.

“The lab results from our epidemiological investigation confirmed that Clostridium perfringens bacteria were the source of the outbreak.”

The holiday lunch was paid for with worker contributions to an employee events committee, not by taxpayers, Rhien said.

We’re all hosts on a parasitic planet: Crypto edition

This is cool: the parasite seems to deliver RNA transcripts into infected hosts cells, which may then take over parts of transcription in the host.

crypto-mouse-epi-cellCryptosporidium parvum is an important opportunistic parasite pathogen for immunocompromised individuals and a common cause of diarrhea in young children. Previous studies have identified a panel of RNA transcripts of very low protein-coding potential in C. parvum.

Using an in vitro model of human intestinal cryptosporidiosis, we report here that some of these C. parvum RNA transcripts were selectively delivered into the nuclei of host epithelial cells during C. parvum infection. Nuclear delivery of several such parasitic RNAs, including Cdg7_FLc_0990, involved heat-shock protein 70-mediated nuclear importing mechanism. Overexpression of Cdg7_FLc_0990 in intestinal epithelial cells resulted in significant changes in expression levels of specific genes, with significant overlapping with alterations in gene expression profile detected in host cells following C. parvum infection.

Our data demonstrate that C. parvum transcripts of low protein-coding potential are selectively delivered into epithelial cells during infection and may modulate gene transcription in infected host cells.

Delivery of parasite RNA transcripts into infected epithelial cells during Cryptosporidium infection and its potential impact on host gene transcription

J Infect Dis. (2016) doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiw607

Yang Wang, Ai-Yu Gong, Shibin Ma, Xiqiang Chen, Yan Li, Chun-Jen Su, Dana Norall, Jing Chen, Juliane K. Strauss-Soukup, Xian-Ming Chen

http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/12/21/infdis.jiw607.abstract