State health officials investigate Salmonella illnesses in Alaska

Charles Enoch of KTVA 11 reports the Alaska Division of Public Health is investigating salmonella infections in the Bethel area. A team is in Bethel to track down the source of the infection.

bethelLouisa Castrodale is an epidemiologist with the state’s Public Health division.

“It’s not even the end of July and we had gotten about six cases of confirmed salmonella from the Bethel-YK area. That’s a large number of cases for a short amount of time in a smaller location, so we were really concerned there was a common source for these infections,” said Castrodale.

Yelp reviews & Anchorage restaurant health reports just a click away

Next time you look up a restaurant on your phone you can find the business in Yelp reviews along with its food inspection report.

ny_rest_inspect_disclosureMonday the city released more information from its “open data” initiative, which aims to make information more easily available on multiple platforms.

Anchorage food inspection results will now be available on Yelp.com and on Muni.org. The city says information is provided with a LIVES (Local Inspector Value-Entry Specification) open data source link to Yelp.

Yelp will also include a summary of the violations for the past three years of inspections.

“You’re already looking for restaurant information why not put the restaurant inspection data there instead of having to go to the muni site, just give you more information where people are looking for it,” said Brendan Babb, from the city’s Chief Innovation Office.

 

Poop soup: Don’t feed geese signs do little at Anchorage park pond

Rick Sinnott, a former Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist, writes that last summer Thom Eley watched, dumbfounded, as a couple visiting the playground at Anchorage’s Cuddy Family Midtown Park changed their child’s diaper and threw the soiled one into the park’s centerpiece.

GOOSEDOGS03PCTY-joker“The mother took the folded-and-loaded diaper,” Eley says, “and heaved it into Cuddy Pond with a kerplunk,” then hurried out of the area. The park, Eley observed, has no shortage of trash cans. But he also noted a considerable amount of trash – plastic bottles, cups, and bags – floating in a layer of scum on the pond surface. Maybe the couple thought the pond was the place to toss out a dirty diaper.

Eley’s spouse, Cherie Northon, is less worried about the poopy diaper than she is about all the duck and goose feces dissolved in the pond. When Northon raised the issue in 2012, she realized local, state, and federal agency staff familiar with the Cuddy Park pond were also concerned, but no one stepped forward to coordinate its cleanup. “Everybody complained about it,” Northon recalled, “but nobody was doing anything.”

Northon is executive director of Anchorage Waterways Council, a nonprofit that works to protect and restore water bodies and wetlands in the city. Eley is a board member.

The council is trying to focus the attention of various agencies and the public on the growing problem.

According to Northon, while water flowing into the pond had relatively low levels of bacteria in August 2015, samples taken across the pond found levels of more than 40 times higher than the maximum concentration of E. coli bacteria allowed by the state for bodies of water used for recreation. Other potentially dangerous bacteria have been found in similar concentrations. In other words, don’t touch the stuff, it’s poop soup (also loaded with Salmonella and Campylobacter)

On a recent sunny Sunday, I found the park full of people. An ice cream truck in the parking lot piped out music.

geese.control.dogsThe pond and nearby lawns were alive with Canada geese, at least 350 by my count. Small clots of geese gathered near people on the path. Many, perhaps most, of the people were feeding geese. That’s no surprise. Cuddy Park has become the city’s unofficial goose- and duck-feeding venue.

I suggest doing what gold courses do: get a couple of Australian shepherds. They love nothing more than chasing geese if there are no sheep to herd.

‘Doesn’t have all the industrialized stuff in it’ Raw goats milk in Alaska

After we won the hockey final yesterday, several of the parents said to me or Amy, “we didn’t expect that. Our team dominated.”

goats-1-600x450We were up 6-0 before the other team knew what was happening.

On the drive home Amy said, I told them, Doug probably had a plan (which I did). I appear sorta dopey (which is easy), but do the homework and know the game.

And sometimes get lucky.

Watching the raw milk comings-and-goings is something like that.

The majority of producers invoke the gosh-shucks-raw-is-just-natural line, without adding that smallpox is also natural. And E. coli.

The regulators seem lost in this rhetorical garden, portrayed as villains, even though the are relied upon to clean up the mess when things go bad.

Victor Nelson and his wife, Tabitha, have been supplying raw milk from their dairy goats to people in Petersburg, reported KFSK-FM.

The couple raises chickens, pigs and goats on a few acres of land at Point Agassiz, an area across the sound from Petersburg. They’re the only family living out there year-round, surrounded by craggy peaks, cedar trees and glaciers.

“We started with two goats and just for raising quality milk that doesn’t have all that industrialized stuff in it and people kept asking us so we decided to buy a few more and a few more,” said Tabitha Nelson.

They have more than 30 now.

The Nelsons say people go crazy for the fresh milk — “We could never meet the whole demand for Petersburg,” said Tabitha — but there are limitations on how they can sell it.

In Alaska, you can only buy raw dairy products like the Nelsons’ unpasteurized goat milk through a herd share agreement, so the customers in Petersburg are partial owners of the goats.

Unpasteurized dairy products are heavily regulated because they’ve been known to carry disease-causing microorganisms like E. coli. In 2013, a campylobacter outbreak on the Kenai peninsula was linked to raw milk.

Floating strip club in Alaska got in trouble for dumping poop in the water

A strip club housed in an old crab fishing boat docked off the coast of Alaska is in trouble for allegedly dumping all their waste into the ocean.

strip.club.poop.alaska.fb.15The owners of The Wild Alaskan, Darren Byler and Kimberly Riedel-Byler, are pleading not guilty to their charges, which include breaking the federal Refuse Act.

The two have been in trouble before for going over capacity on the ship, and they recently had their liquor license revoked.

Botulism-in-seal-oil outbreak under control, says Alaska

The outbreak of botulism across a few Southwest Alaska communities from a batch of seal oil appears to be contained, but not all of those who consumed some of the product are out of the woods just yet.

Ringed_seal_1_2000-08-13Dr. Michael Cooper is the Infections Disease Program Manager with the state’s Public Health Department. He says medical officials are still keeping an eye on just over a handful of the original 25 who were known to eaten some of the contaminated oil:

“We’re down to seven or eight people who are still being monitored, one until December 31, one until January 1, and five until January 2. They’re asymptomatic, and we’re just watching them, checking in daily, to see if they develop symptoms,” said Dr. Cooper.

Dr. Cooper said the batch of contaminated seal oil has been accounted for and destroyed.

25 sick: Botulism in seal oil in Southwest Alaska

 A botulism outbreak in Bristol Bay communities is being monitored by state and local health officials, according to the state Department of Epidemiology, which said Wednesday that more than 25 people have so far been linked to a batch of contaminated seal oil produced in the village of Twin Hills.

garlic-scapes-2Alaska Dispatch News reports that several people have been hospitalized, some are being monitored and health officials are still trying to contact others.

The first botulism cases were reported Friday after two people were flown from the village of Quinhagak to Bethel for care. The two were later taken by medevac to Anchorage and remained on respiratory support Wednesday, reportedly unable to breathe on their own, according to a state official monitoring the outbreak.

Three others from Quinhagak were treated for symptoms of botulism, and others in Twin Hills and Dillingham have reported symptoms or are being monitored. One child has also shown symptoms of the disease, which can be fatal, according to Dr. Michael Cooper, the infectious disease program manager at the Department of Epidemiology.

“This is a very concerning outbreak,” said Cooper. “This is one of the largest clusters of botulism we’ve ever seen.”

An investigation linked the illnesses to a batch of seal oil produced in Twin Hills, and Cooper said testing conducted at a state lab revealed the oil was particularly toxic.

“When it was tested, it came back at the highest level the lab instrument can measure for botulinum toxin,” he said Wednesday.

The testing was completed Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, the state dispatched a second public health nurse from Anchorage to continue the investigation out of Dillingham.

“In an odd twist to this case, after we showed preliminary test results to the family who produced the oil, they sort of refused to stop eating or serving it,” said Cooper.

Safe because it’s organic? Link found between moose meat and Toxoplasma in unborn baby

A woman in Alaska who ate a medium-rare moose steak at week 26 of her pregnancy gave birth prematurely at 34 weeks because of a toxoplasmosis infection.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Lauren Hamm’s 34-week moose-steaksprenatal checkup was only supposed to be 10 minutes.

But she left the hospital 96 hours later. Her son, born prematurely, didn’t leave the neonatal intensive care unit for another three weeks.

Doctors said the meat was infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can be found in under-cooked game meat. It causes toxoplasmosis, an infection that brings mild flu-like symptoms, like swollen glands, in adults but can be deadly to an unborn child. Hamm’s story was published in the September issue of Alaska Medicine.

Doctors said Hamm had the infection and passed it on to her unborn baby, Bennett. He was born on Dec. 13, 2011, with a heart rate of 200 beats per minute, Hamm said. He had fluid around his organs and lesions on his eyes and brain. Hamm said 45 minutes after Bennett was born, his heart rate was still irregular. Doctors used a defibrillator and shocked his heart back into rhythm.

“I had a prayer in my heart that everything was going to be OK,” she said.

Her doctor, Nelson Isada, a perinatologist at Providence Alaska Medical Center, was the senior author of the article.

Hamm said Isada wondered why Bennett’s heart rate was so irregular, and he ran as many blood tests as he could on her newborn son. moose.alaskaAccording to the article, after Isada found the lesions on Bennett’s eyes, he started to piece together that the baby might have toxoplasmosis.

Isada later tested the moose meat from the family’s freezer and found that it tested positive for Toxoplasma gondii.

According to the article, humans can get Toxoplasma gondii in three ways: by eating under-cooked meat that contains the cysts where the parasite lives, by a mother during gestation, or ingesting the cysts while they are opening in foods, soil, water or a cat’s litter box.

He said women who are pregnant can eat moose meat but they should make sure the meat is cooked all the way through. They should also cook beef, lamb and veal roasts or steaks to 145 degrees and pork, ground meat and wild game to 160 degrees.

Hamm said her husband shot the moose on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, and the family ate the steaks medium-rare, like they always do. She was 26 weeks pregnant.

She said she never considered it unsafe to eat moose meat, because it was organic.

Now, at 22 months old, baby Bennett’s lesions have healed and he is healthy.

5 sick; Campylobater again in raw milk in Alaska; really is Groundhog Day

Folks in Alaska must be undergoing their own kind of public health Groundhog Day – where the same day is relived with slight variations.

But unlike the Bill Murray movie, no matter how much the health types cajole, persuade, and act nice, things won’t change.

For the second time this year, and third since 2011, the Alaska Section of Epidemiology is investigating another outbreak of Campylobacter infection colbert.raw.milkassociated with the consumption of raw milk. This new outbreak is associated with raw milk distributed by the same Kenai Peninsula cow-share program that was linked to a Campylobacter outbreak sickened at least 31 people in February 2013.

In the current investigation, five cases of Campylobacter infection have been identified to date. Two of the five people sought medical attention. Testing by the Alaska State Public Health Laboratory identified the bacteria strain as Campylobacter jejuni. The exact same strain of C. jejuni was found in cow manure obtained earlier this year at the cow-share farm that distributed the raw milk. “The genetic fingerprint of the bacteria isolated from these two people and the cow is unique. It has never been seen before in the United States,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, State Epidemiologist. “These outbreaks are an unfortunate reminder of the inherent risks associated with raw milk consumption, and underscore the importance of pasteurization.”

Groundhog Day, Alaska Campylobacter-in-raw-milk version

Folks in Alaska must be undergoing their own kind of public health Groundhog Day – where the same day is relived with slight variations.

But unlike the Bill Murray movie, no matter how much the health types cajole, persuade, and act nice, things won’t change.

Ask Hugh Pennington.

Just days after a report implicated raw milk as the cause of 31 cases of campylobacteriosis, including four cases of reactive arthritis, in early 2013, bill.murray.groundhog.day_.storyAlaskan health profesionals had a paper published in the Journal of Food Protection documenting a 2011 outbreak of Campylobacter linked to … raw milk.

Snappy title, though: Sharing milk but not messages: Campylobacteriosis associated with consumption of raw milk from a cow-share program in Alaska, 2011.

Abstract below.

Alaska public and environmental health authorities investigated a cluster of campylobacteriosis cases among people who had consumed raw, unpasteurized milk obtained from a cow-share program in Alaska. Although raw milk is not permitted by law to be offered commercially, consumers can enter into cow-share agreements whereby they contribute funds for the upkeep of cows and in turn receive a share of the milk for their personal use. Laboratory testing of stool specimens collected from ill persons and from cows on the farm revealed an indistinguishable strain of Campylobacter. In this outbreak, numerous confirmed and suspected cases were not among cow shareholders; therefore, these individuals had not been advised of the potential health hazards associated with consumption of raw milk nor were they informed of the outbreak developments.

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 5, May 2013, pp. 744-918 , pp. 744-747(4)

Castrodale, L.J.; Gerlach, R.F.; Xavier, C.M.; Smith, B.J.; Cooper, M.P.; McLaughlin, J.B.

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2013/00000076/00000005/art00001