Happy holidays from barfblog.com

We didn’t write a letter last year, because it wasn’t a good year: I got fired as a full professor for bad attendance (it’s a long commute from Brisbane) but did get my U.S. citizenship.

sorenne goannas.3This year was better.

I’m writing lots at barfblog.com and Amy is doing the professoring thing.

Sorenne turned six, and continues to amaze.

Ben is hitting his stride as a professoring thing, and we continue to collaborate and occasionally write something of interest.

sorenne.goannas.2.dec.14I’m coaching hockey and skating, and volunteering as the food safety specialist at Sorenne’s school, as well as at swimming (I don’t get in the pool, my role is to get the boys dressed on time, and make sure kids don’t do dumb things in the pool).

It’s a different lifestyle but one I am finally growing used to.



UK ice cream parlor fined after boy’s mouth injuries

An ice cream parlour has been landed with a £12,000 fine after a boy sliced his tongue on a shard of glass hidden inside a chocolate sundae.

2381345411The 11-year-old was tucking into the dessert at Scoops Gelato, in Elm Grove, Southsea, during a trip with his mum when he was left in agony and bleeding from the mouth.

The boy needed stitches at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, Portsmouth, as a result of the ordeal.

Portsmouth City Council’s trading standards team, prosecuting Scoops Gelato at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court yesterday, revealed an error made by staff resulted in the accident.

A worker preparing the dessert tapped the glass with a scoop to pour in the ice cream, unwittingly causing part of it to break and fall in.

Victoria Putnam, council prosecutor, said the cut in the boy’s mouth was ‘severe’ and ‘deep’ – and blamed the firm’s failure to adopt the basic safety procedures of a normal food business for the accident, which happened on June 21 this year.

‘Had the businesses put steps in place – which it has put in place since that incident – it would never have happened,’ she said. 

Careful with that dead calf: Outbreak of cryptosporidiosis among responders to a rollover of a truck carrying calves — Kansas, April 2013

We saw a lot of weird stuff on I-70, usually bathtubs for cooking meth.

imagesBut according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in April 2013, the Thomas County Health Department notified the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Response section (KDHE) of two cases of cryptosporidiosis among emergency responders to a tractor-trailer rollover. The truck was carrying approximately 350 preweaned Holstein calves. An outbreak investigation was led by KDHE with assistance from the county health department; six cases of cryptosporidiosis were identified among the 15 emergency responders. No additional primary cases with this exposure or secondary cases were identified. Disease was associated with carrying calves (relative risk [RR] = 3.0) and contact with fecal matter (RR = 4.5). The calves were aged In the early morning of March 10, 2013, a truck carrying approximately 350 Holstein steer calves overturned in a snowstorm near Colby, Kansas. Many of the calves died as a result; many others were scattered outside of the truck. City police officers and county sheriff’s deputies responded to the incident, controlled traffic, and secured the scene. The officers then contacted a towing company and community volunteers with horses and cattle trailers to assist with righting the truck and securing the calves.

Because of the very young age of the calves and the injuries and stress resulting from the rollover, most calves that survived the initial impact were unable to walk and had to be carried by responders onto cattle trailers. Responders noted that most of the calves had scours. Deceased calves were loaded into the wrecked truck and towed to the local sale barn. The next day, towing company employees returned to the sale barn and loaded the carcasses onto another truck for shipment to a rendering plant.

Following the report of two cases of cryptosporidiosis in persons who responded to a tractor-trailer rollover involving calves, investigators from KDHE hypothesized that illness might be associated with exposure to calves, fecal contamination at the scene, and returning to a location without electrical power and therefore no hot water to thoroughly wash hands or decontaminate equipment and clothing. A retrospective cohort study was conducted among emergency responders to identify additional ill persons and determine risk factors associated with illness. For this investigation, a probable case was defined as diarrhea (three or more loose or watery stools in 24 hours) and either abdominal cramping, vomiting, or anorexia in an emergency responder within 10 days after the response to the rollover. A confirmed case was defined as an illness that met the definition for a probable case with laboratory evidence of Cryptosporidium infection.
KDHE interviewed responders by telephone using an outbreak-specific questionnaire. Fifteen persons participated in the response to this emergency; all were interviewed. Six (40%) respondents were ill and of those, two (33%) had confirmed cases and four (67%) had probable cases of cryptosporidiosis. Fourteen (93%) of the responders were male; all ill persons were male and ranged in age from 17 to 34 years (median = 29 years). Five (33%) responders were law enforcement officers; one became ill. Ten (67%) responders included towing truck employees, the driver of the wrecked truck, and other persons from the community; five were ill. The most common symptoms besides diarrhea were abdominal cramps, anorexia, and weight loss (five [83%] reports each). Five (83%) persons sought medical care.

Although positive rapid antigen test results from stool specimens from two responders prompted this investigation, no additional persons submitted stool specimens. The incubation period ranged from 6 to 8 days (median = 7 days). Among four persons whose illness had resolved by the time of interview, duration ranged from 7 to 13 days (median = 9 days). No deaths or hospitalizations were reported. At the time of the outbreak investigation, no calves were available to be tested for Cryptosporidium.

Ihe_outbreak_of_cryptosporidiosisn bivariate analysis, ill responders were statistically more likely than responders who were not ill to have carried calves during the response (RR = 3.0) and to have reported coming into contact with fecal matter (RR = 4.5) (Table). Responders who returned to a location without electrical power following the response were more likely to later become ill than those who returned to a location with power (RR = 4.5); however, this association did not reach statistical significance. No one reported eating any foods during the response; all beverages consumed were contained in sealable plastic bottles and consuming a beverage during the response was not significantly associated with illness (RR = 2.5) (Table).
Cryptosporidium transmission is fecal-oral and can occur through ingestion of contaminated recreational water, untreated drinking water, or food, or by contact with infected persons or animals, most notably preweaned calves. Outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium are commonly associated with recreational water, including waterparks and swimming pools, whereas outbreaks associated with zoonotic transmission outside of farm settings are less frequently reported (2). The cryptosporidiosis outbreak described in this report was associated with handling preweaned Holstein calves and coming into contact with calf feces while responding to a tractor-trailer rollover. Six (40%) of the 15 responders became ill with cryptosporidiosis following this response. Occupational outbreaks have been reported in agricultural settings and veterinary schools (3–5). At least one outbreak has been reported among emergency responders following a firefighting response at a location where Cryptosporidium was detected in calf fecal specimens as well as in environmental water samples (6). This outbreak is the first report of both law enforcement and volunteer emergency responders becoming infected with Cryptosporidium for which only direct contact with animals and their feces was identified as the source of transmission.

Holstein cows are commonly used for milk production; Holstein steers born on dairy farms are sometimes transported to another location to be raised for beef. Very young calves being moved from dairy facilities might be deprived of colostrum and transported with calves from many different farms, which can increase stress and pathogen transmission among calves (7). Scours is common among young calves, and preweaned calves are most likely to be infected with Cryptosporidium parvum, a zoonotic species of Cryptosporidium that can be transmitted to humans (8). Calves in stressful situations usually experience more severe symptoms of scours associated with an increased shedding of enteric pathogens (7). Before the truck rollover, the calves were transported in crowded conditions over long distances during severe winter weather. Additionally, the calves were reportedly aged Contact with livestock, particularly young calves, is a risk factor for zoonotic transmission recognized by health professionals and animal industry workers; however, professional and volunteer emergency responders might be less aware of the potential risk (9). Prior to this rollover response, volunteer responders reportedly were not provided with illness prevention education. Responders did not wear personal protective equipment, but all wore work gloves and heavy outerwear because of the cold weather. Although community members were contacted to provide assistance, no veterinarian was consulted regarding the appropriate care or handling of the calves. A veterinarian could have provided guidance on minimizing transmission of disease while also overseeing humane handling of the animals. The rollover occurred during a snowstorm, and some locations in town did not have electrical power at the time which could have contributed to some persons being unable to appropriately clean or sanitize their clothing and equipment and could have made handwashing less effective or less likely following the response, thus increasing the risk for infection.
This outbreak highlights the need for awareness of zoonotic transmission among those handling calves, including emergency responders. Education of responders is important to prevent future outbreaks of zoonoses that might result from agricultural emergencies (9). Cryptosporidiosis prevention messaging should include instruction on the potential for fecal-oral zoonotic transmission. Education also should be provided on the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., disposable outer wear, rubber gloves, and rubber boots) during the response and postresponse clean-up. Responders should ensure that all protective clothing is promptly removed and disinfected after handling calves or coming into contact with their feces, followed by thoroughly washing hands with soap and water to prevent infection or recontamination (7). These practices are likely to help reduce fecal-oral exposures during emergency responses involving animals where the potential exists for zoonotic transmission of Cryptosporidium spp. and other pathogens.
Monique Cheatum, Thomas County Health Department.
1Kansas Department of Health and Environment (Corresponding author: Lindsey Martin Webb, lwebb@kdheks.gov, 785-296-3304)
Trotz-Williams LA, Jarvie BD, Martin SW, Leslie KE, Peregrine AS. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium parvum infection in southwestern Ontario and its association with diarrhea in neonatal dairy calves. Can Vet J 2005;46:349–51.
Yoder JS, Wallace RM, Collier SA, Beach MJ, Hlavsa MC. Cryptosporidiosis surveillance—United States, 2009–2010. MMWR Surveill Summ 2012;61(No. SS-5).
Levine JF, Levy MG, Walker RL, Crittenden S. Cryptosporidiosis in veterinary students. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1988;193:1413–4.
Konkle DM, Nelson KM, Lunn DP. Nosocomial transmission of Cryptosporidium in a veterinary hospital. J Vet Intern Med 1997;11:340–3.
Smith KE, Stenzel SA, Bender JB, et al. Outbreaks of enteric infections caused by multiple pathogens associated with calves at a farm day camp. Pediatr Infect Dis 2004; 23:1098–104.
CDC. Outbreak of cryptosporidiosis associated with a firefighting response—Indiana and Michigan, June 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2012; 61:153–6.
Kiang KM, Scheftel JM, Leano FT, et al. Recurrent outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis associated with calves among students at an educational farm programme, Minnesota, 2003. Epidemiol Infect 2006;134:878–86.
Santin M, Trout JM, Xiao L, Zhou L, Greiner E, Faver R. Prevalence and age-related variation of Cryptosporidium species and genotypes in dairy calves. Vet Parasitol 2004;122:103-17.
Gilpen JL, Carabin H, Regens JL, Burden RW. Agricultural emergencies: a primer for first responders. Biosecur Bioterror 2009;7:187–98.
What is already known on this topic?
Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal illness caused by the chlorine-tolerant protozoan Cryptosporidium. Transmission is fecal-oral and can occur via ingestion of contaminated recreational water, untreated drinking water, or food, or by contact with infected persons or animals, most notably young calves.
What is added by this report?
Two cases of cryptosporidiosis were laboratory diagnosed among 15 persons responding to the rollover of a tractor-trailer carrying approximately 350 calves. An investigation found four additional responders with symptoms meeting a probable case definition. Diarrhea following the exposure was associated with carrying calves and contact with fecal matter. This is the first report of both law enforcement and volunteer emergency responders contracting Cryptosporidium for which the mode of transmission was confirmed to be solely zoonotic.
What are the implications for public health practice?
Public health professionals and emergency responders should be aware of the potential for occupational zoonotic transmission during responses to incidents involving animals. Awareness, education, proper hygiene, and personal protective equipment use can prevent transmission of zoonoses during an emergency response.
TABLE. Exposures possibly associated with acquiring cryptosporidiosis among responders to the rollover of a truck carrying calves — Kansas, April 2013
Exposure No. of persons exposed No. of ill persons exposed Relative risk (95% confidence interval)
Carried calves 9 6 3.0 (1.2–7.6)
Contact with fecal matter 8 6 4.5 (1.3–15.3)
Location without power 4 3 4.5 (0.6–33.7)
Beverage during response 8 5 2.5 (0.9–6.7)

Poisoned food found at Gina Rinehart’s Pilbara mine

Australia’s Gina Rinehart was once the world’s richest woman, making a fortune on mining (now she is sixth).

am-w-contrary-20131001211540181206-620x349A police investigation into possible attempted poisoning is underway after a worker at a remote mining company construction site in Western Australia noticed a bad taste as he started eating a meal.

The contractor employee also noticed discolouring in a piece of fruit he was served on Monday at the dining hall at the Pilbara site run by mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill company. He alerted staff who contacted police.

Analysis of the food item confirmed the presence of a dangerous chemical late on Wednesday, but it appears to be an isolated incident, with no similar reports since, police said.

It is not known what the intent of the poison was, or if there was a specific target.

Major crime squad detectives are investigating.

Just in time for the holidays: Pills that make you poop rainbow glitter

In the messed up world that is the Internet, you can now purchase rainbow glitter pills.

rainbow-glitter-pillsNow, in the item’s description it doesn’t specify that you are supposed to eat the things, but the whole ‘pill’ name does imply a product intended for oral consumption.

And the glitter is described as non-toxic. Do with that information what you will.

UK mother eats roll of toilet paper every day and just ‘can’t quit’

A UK mother of five has opened up about her bizarre food fetish — eating a roll of toilet paper every day.

Jade Sylvester.toilet.paperJade Sylvester, from England, knocks back at least eight pieces of toilet tissue every time she goes into the loo and says she just “can’t quit” the roll, according to The Huffington Post.

The 25 year old said her taste for toilet tissue started when she was pregnant and suspects it may have been caused by a condition known as Pica, which brings on “non-traditional” cravings, The Huffington Post reported.

“I started craving toilet roll. I still don’t know why,” she said.

Speaking to the Liconshire Echo, Sylvester said she liked the “the feeling of the texture in my mouth, rather than the taste”.
“I like the dryness. My family tell me it isn’t very good for me — but I can’t help it,” Ms Sylvester said.

Traces of date rape drug detected in European baby food

Some brands of organic baby food have been recalled across Europe after traces of a date rape drug were found in some batches.

apple pear_Atropine and scopolamine were detected in several varieties of porridge from Swiss brands Holle and Lebenswert.

The chemicals, which are naturally occurring, can make babies sick.

“Consumption…may cause short-term adverse effects, for example, dilated pupils, change of heart rate, dryness of the mouth, constipation, urinary retention and flushed skin,” the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said Friday.

There wouldn’t be any long-term health effects after the chemicals are expelled from the body.

Scopolamine is a plant derivative that can induce a hypnosis-like state, hallucinations and euphoria as well as impair memory.

Last year, the U.S. National Institutes of Health said it was becoming the “assault-chemical of choice.”

Atropine is a closely related chemical that can also cause hallucinations.

milletHolle Baby Food GmbH Serviceburo is recalling the Holle branded and Lebenswert branded baby foods listed below due to the presence of atropine and scopolamine.  These chemicals are undesirable plant constituents. In-store recall notices should be displayed in outlets that sold the affected products.

The recalled products are:

Holle Organic Millet Porridge Apple-Pear (250g);
Holle Organic Millet Porridge with Rice (250g);
Holle Organic Milk Porridge Millet (250g);
Holle Organic Holle Organic 3-Grain Porridge (250g);
Millet and Rice Whole Wheat Porridge (Lebenswert bio Hirse & Reis Vollkornbrei).
All batch codes, all best before dates.

Customers denied diced onions, throw snake at Saskatoon Tim Hortons employee

After a dispute over diced onions on a breakfast sandwich, two men threw a snake over a counter towards an employee of a Saskatoon Tim Hortons.

TimHortonAccording to Saskatoon police, staff members “fled the store in fear” after the incident, which took place Monday around 7:30 a.m. at the Tim Hortons in the 600 block of 22nd Street West.

“I’ve never heard of a snake being thrown at an employee by a customer … It was definitely a little chaotic,” said Saskatoon police spokeswoman Alyson Edwards.

“The staff was shocked and afraid and fled the store.”

Staff told police that two male customers were arguing with an employee about their breakfast order – specifically that they wanted their onions diced. When the argument escalated, one of the men reached into the pocket of the other man, pulled out a garter snake and threw it behind the counter.

No one was injured, said police.

Officers quickly found the snake and determined it was not venomous, said Edwards.

The two men, both 20, are facing charges of mischief and causing a disturbance.

How to barf: Keep your face upright to make vomiting less uncomfortable

One of the more memorable lines from Chapman years ago was, “I’ve never had barf come out my nose.”

vomit.family.guyA few years later, he said, “it happened.”

According to Eric Ravenscraft of Life Hacker, we’re all barfing the wrong way.

The next time you feel like you need to vomit, try facing straight forward (perhaps using a bucket) to avoid uncomfortable drainage in nasal passages.

Most people (and, indeed, nearly every TV and movie depiction of the act) use a toilet or a sink when vomiting is necessary. While this makes for quick cleanup, it also requires you to point your face directly downwards. Combined with the upwards flow of your stomach contents, your nasal passages can become affected. Keeping your face upright by using a bucket (or having really, really good aim) can avoid that burning sensation and uncomfortable cleanup. Alternatively, if you don’t have a bucket handy or simply can’t manage that self control, holding or plugging your nose can help minimize this effect.

Fruitcake – Will It Last Forever?

Chris Murphy of Sloan (a top-5 band on the pantheon of Canadian rock and roll) pines on Action Pact that ‘nothing lasts for ever any more.’

Fruitcake might.

But as Schaffner says, ‘it depends’ on some a few factors.

My friend and colleague, Matt Shipman from NC State News Services tackled the question  of fruitcake preservation on The Abstract, the first of a series of holiday posts.

I’ve always thought that, in the event of a nuclear apocalypse, the Earth will be populated solely by cockroaches, those Styrofoam hamburger containers that fast-food joints used in the 1980s, and fruitcakes. Since this is the season for loved ones to inflict fruitcakes on one another, I decided to get to the bottom of this mystery: will fruitcakes really last forever?Fruitcake-848x477

As it turns out, the answer depends on how you define “fruitcake.” 

Most fruitcake recipes include dried nuts, dried fruit, and “candied” fruit or peel (meaning the fruit has been both dried and preserved in sugar). [Note: not all fruitcakes are made this way, see the safety note below.]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that fruitcake will last two to three months in the refrigerator without spoiling, and will maintain its quality if stored up to a year in the freezer. But it’s a federal agency’s job to think of the worst-case scenario. Could fruitcakes really last longer? (and FDA says that the water activity of a fruitcake, although there’s not a standard identity for one, is between .73 and .83 – ben)

“All of these dried and candied ingredients have what we call ‘low water activity,’ meaning they have very little moisture available,” says Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State. “Low water activity is important because many microorganisms, including foodborne illness-causing bacteria, need moisture in order to reproduce.

“In practical terms, this makes most fruitcakes extremely shelf stable, so they would be safe to eat for a long time – a really long time,” Chapman says. “But it might taste pretty bad.”

That’s because a lot of things can significantly affect the quality of the fruitcake.

For example, mold could grow on the surface of a fruitcake, or yeast could cause some of the sugars in the fruitcake to ferment.

“But some people wrap their fruitcakes in linen that’s been soaked in rum or other spirits to reduce the chance of mold or yeast problems,” Chapman says.

“However, rancidity may still be an issue. Fruitcakes contain a variety of proteins, from eggs to butter to nuts – even the fruit items. And when proteins are exposed to air, they can become oxidized, which can create rancid flavors and odors,” Chapman explains.

So, while you may be able to save that fruitcake forever, you should probably eat it now.

Safety Note: If a fruitcake has a significant amount of moisture (e.g., if it was made with fresh fruit) it is more likely to spoil or to give pathogens enough moisture to reproduce. In other words, it could make you sick if not kept refrigerated and eaten relatively quickly.