People barfing everywhere: Dozens sick at NAACP annual gala

Public health officials are investigating a possible case of food poisoning that left more than 50 attendees at an NAACP gala with terrible vomiting and diarrhea.

donald-sterling-naacp-honor-withdrawn__oPtTwelve people were taken by ambulance to hospitals and treated for dehydration, officials said. And several more drove themselves to hospitals Saturday night and early Sunday morning after getting sick during a banquet dinner commemorating the closing of the 27th Annual NAACP State Convention.

Among those hospitalized was former Oakland Mayor and Assemblyman Elihu Harris, said George Holland, an attorney who heads the civil rights organization’s Oakland chapter.

More than 300 people, including former San Francisco Mayor and keynote speaker Willie Brown, attended the banquet at the grand ballroom of the Sofitel San Francisco Bay Hotel in Redwood City, Holland said. He didn’t know if Brown had fallen ill.

Several people became sick after eating a dinner that included salmon and salad, Holland said. By 10:30 p.m. attendees were throwing up in the hotel lobby, while more than 20 firefighters and paramedics tended to them.

“It was a terrible scene,” Holland said. “Other hotel guests were very upset.”

Quite a few of the sick were teenagers attending the banquet, Holland said. A 5-year-old also fell ill.

Holland said his wife started vomiting early Sunday, and the illness hit him Monday morning. “I was shivering all day long,” he said.

Sofitel, which is part of a French luxury hotel chain, did not return a call seeking comment. Health officials were unable to produce records Tuesday showing whether the hotel has had similar issues in the past, said Robyn Thaw, spokeswoman for the San Mateo Medical Center.

25 Japanese tourists isolated at Australia hospital

Twenty-five Japanese tourists have been isolated at a Sydney hospital after suffering from illness and vomiting.

vacation“Symptoms appear to be similar to food poisoning … it’s not confirmed but they are the kind of symptoms that we are looking at,” a southwestern Sydney local health district spokeswoman told AAP.

The tourists were on Tuesday isolated in part of Liverpool Hospital’s emergency department and measures to control any spread of a potential infection have been put in place.

10 sickened: Multiple human-to-human transmission from a severe case of psittacosis, Sweden, January – February 2013

You see a cute bird, I see a microbiological horror show.

UnknownWallensten et al. describe in Eurosurveillance, Volume 19, Issue 42, that  proven transmission of Chlamydia psittaci between humans has been described on only one occasion previously.

We describe an outbreak which occurred in Sweden in early 2013, where the epidemiological and serological investigation suggests that one patient, severely ill with psittacosis after exposure to wild bird droppings, transmitted the disease to ten others: Two family members, one hospital roommate and seven hospital caregivers. Three cases also provided respiratory samples that could be analysed by PCR. All the obtained C. psittaci sequences were indistinguishable and clustered within genotype A.

The finding has implications for the management of severely ill patients with atypical pneumonia, because these patients may be more contagious than was previously thought. In order to prevent nosocomial person-to-person transmission of C. psittaci, stricter hygiene measures may need to be applied.

Unpasteurized raw milk being blamed for illness that sickened dozens of Wisconsin students

A friend posted on facebook how much she enjoyed the visit to the apple cider mill – a fall tradition.

colbert.raw.milkI asked if the cider was pasteurized.

She said yes.

Good.

Not so good for the Durand High School in Wisconsin where a parent provided  unpasteurized raw milk for a team football dinner

Eight students were hospitalized, and nearly 150 middle and high school students stayed home to avoid getting sick. 

State health officials say it was Campylobacter that caused the illness, and the health department said Friday that it likely came from unpasteurized raw milk.

Good Ebola (and foodborne illness) advice: don’t eat poop

We used to use don’t eat poop as a secondary barfblog tagline. Then it was don’t eat uncooked poop.  New York TV, anchor Errol Louis of NY1 has resurrected the advice in reference to the city’s first Ebola case:

If you came across some strange mucus or feces or something out there on the street, on the subway, or anywhere else, don’t eat it. Don’t let it get into your body, don’t touch it.

Good call.

 

(This is also satire) Terrorists threaten to attack UK by washing uncooked chicken

The terror threat level to the UK has been raised to the highest level since the Iraq war after suspicions grew that terrorists might have been reading all the recent articles about the deadly peril of washing uncooked chicken.

veryRawChickenIt is now known that washing raw chicken releases tiny water droplets filled with extreme poison into your kitchen, killing you and all your family instantly. Until this fact was established by government scientists, there was no explanation for the mysterious spate of deaths affecting everyone in the country who cooked chicken.

“Raw chicken washing-related deaths were running at approximately five million per year, in London alone,” explained chief government medical officer Brian Panic. “We’d always wondered why this might be, but no-one had ever put two and two together, despite the obvious presence of freshly washed chicken fillets near all the bodies.”

“The raw material isn’t a problem in itself, if safely handled until cooked right through,” (piping hot) he explained. “But the combination of uncooked poultry and washing has the potential to destroy civilization, and I’m not exaggerating.”

“Now this has become widely known, if would be simple for a terrorist organization, perhaps using chefs, to wash chicken in the major metropolitan centers, with potentially devastating effects.”

“This could be the most severe threat since terrorists learned to secretly not turn off their Kindles during take-off and landing.”

After a meeting of COBRA, the government’s emergency response and cookery committee, the military are guarding all airports close to branches of Tesco and Sainsbury’s and are monitoring suspects’ water usage for potential chicken-related spikes.

There was an unfortunate incident in Dunstable this morning when an armed response team shot dead a suspected sous-chef who turned out to be merely rinsing a nice piece of sea bass, but a government spokesman pointed out that this is the price of freedom.

Police are asking anyone with the smallest Campylobacter-contaminated nugget of information should come forward immediately for rapid grilling.

Thanks to my Scottish food safety friend for sending along this bit.

Blame it on the (chicken) juice — enhances surface attachment and biofilm formation of Campylobacter

We were having dinner with friends Sunday night, and they do a Chinese-style cooking that is light and yummy, but I noticed a lot of cross-contamination going on during the prep (can someone please come up with a better name than cross-contaminaion, and more succinct than, dangerous bugs move around a lot).

icarly.chicken.cell.handsThe patron said, that’s why you cook it, and I said, just cook it doesn’t cut it, and explained why.

We may never be invited for dinner again.

The next day (another school holiday) the two 5-years-olds were with me for a few hours, so after a couple of hours at the park, I decided we would make two cakes — one gluten/dairy free, one traditional.

I don’t like cake but it is a part of my spring ritual of getting rid of spices that have accumulated for six years and, like Ikea furniture, crap that looked good at the store but awful at home.

The girls became involved in an extended discussion of Salmonella, eggs and cross-contamination.

They enjoyed the cake.

Brown et al. published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology that the bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is primarily transmitted via the consumption of contaminated foodstuffs, especially poultry meat. In food processing environments, C. jejuni is required to survive a multitude of stresses and requires the use of specific survival mechanisms, such as biofilms. An initial step in biofilm formation is bacterial attachment to a surface.

Here, we investigated the effects of a chicken meat exudate (chicken juice) on C. jejuni surface attachment and biofilm formation. Supplementation of brucella broth with ≥5% chicken juice resulted in increased biofilm formation on glass, polystyrene, and stainless steel surfaces with four C. jejuni isolates and one C. coli isolate in both microaerobic and aerobic conditions. When incubated with chicken juice, C. jejuni was both able to grow and form biofilms in static cultures in aerobic conditions. Electron microscopy showed that C. jejuni cells were associated with chicken juice particulates attached to the abiotic surface rather than the surface itself.

sorenne.doug.usa.today.jun.11This suggests that chicken juice contributes to C. jejuni biofilm formation by covering and conditioning the abiotic surface and is a source of nutrients. Chicken juice was able to complement the reduction in biofilm formation of an aflagellated mutant of C. jejuni, indicating that chicken juice may support food chain transmission of isolates with lowered motility. We provide here a useful model for studying the interaction of C. jejuni biofilms in food chain-relevant conditions and also show a possible mechanism for C. jejuni cell attachment and biofilm initiation on abiotic surfaces within the food chain.

Helen L. Brown, Mark Reuter, Louise J. Salt, Kathryn L. Cross, Roy P. Betts, and Arnoud H. M. van Vliet

http://aem.asm.org/content/80/22/7053.abstract?etocjejuni

14K tests, 98.7% compliance: Canadian annual microbiology report 2011-12

The Government of Canada verifies that food produced and/or sold in Canada meets federal food safety standards to ensure Canadians have confidence in what they buy. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors and regulates food products that are produced domestically and moved inter-provincially, or are imported.

professor.fink.Simpsons.jpgWithin Canada, all food products must comply with the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, which set out criteria for safe food and clearly prescribe restrictions on the production, importation, sale, composition and content of food.

The National Microbiological Monitoring Program (NMMP) is one of many tools utilized by the CFIA to verify that domestically produced and imported products meet Canadian standards. It is designed to sample and test a broad range of imported and domestic commodities for multiple hazards, including microbial hazards and extraneous material. The testing carried out under the NMMP covers red meat and poultry products, shell eggs and egg products, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables and processed fruit and vegetable products.

As CFIA focuses its monitoring activities towards specific food-related hazards that may impair the health and safety of Canadians, it is important to note that most testing is in commodities that are not further processed by the consumer as well as in raw food, that if not properly cooked, can lead to illness. It is generally accepted that proper precautions taken in the home will destroy any bacteria that may be present.

During the 2011/12 fiscal year under the NMMP, 14307 tests were performed on 5234 domestic and imported products. Specifically, 9049 tests were performed on 3678 domestic products and 5258 tests were performed on 1556 imported products to verify they were compliant with Canadian standards. Results indicated that domestic products were 99.0% compliant and imported products were 98.0% compliant. Overall, a 98.7% compliance rate for combined domestic and imported products was observed.

In addition to testing food products, wash water samples and surface swabs taken within the food production environment are used to verify that food products are produced under sanitary conditions. This type of environmental sampling was performed in domestic establishments to verify the operator systems’ ability to control the presence of pathogens within the processing environment. During 2011/12, there were 2300 tests performed on 1878 environmental samples which were assessed as 97.5% compliant.

The results of the 2011/12 NMMP sampling activities demonstrate that the products available in the Canadian marketplace are for the majority compliant with national standards. 

127 sick with Yersinia in NZ: When should public health types go public with food safety risks?

Early findings into a severe gastroenteritis outbreak were withheld to avoid causing a public scare with limited information, the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says.

carrotjuiceI’ve heard the same shit for 20 years – we can’t tell the public, we know better and are paid better than the plebes, so we must know better.

We’ve worked with several farming groups over the decades with no problems.

People can handle discussions of risk.

Bureaucrats are terrified of discussions of risk.

About 127 people have been affected and 38 hospitalized by a Yersinia pseudotuberculosis outbreak since it appeared last month.

MPI deputy director general Scott Gallacher yesterday said lettuce and carrots had been associated with the outbreak in an Environmental Science and Research (ESR) draft report last week but the information was “not a slam dunk.”

Epidemiology is rarely a slam dunk.

Foodstuffs, the company that owns New World and Pak’n Save, said it had viewed the report which named two of its two products, Pam’s fresh express mesclun salad lettuce and Pam’s fresh express lettuce, as possible sources.

The company is investigating this and did not believe any of the potentially affected products were still on its shelves.

Gallacher fended off claims the MPI risked public health because it was more concerned about protecting supermarkets’ reputations.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey yesterday said the ESR draft report clearly identified bagged lettuce and carrots from a particular supermarket chain as the source.

Time for an epidemiology refresher in New Zealand, Or a political one; sick people vote with their barf.