6 sick from E. coli in Marin, Calif., no source IDed

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Health Services has concluded its investigation of an outbreak of E. coli last month that sickened six people, four of whom were children.

No single source of the infection has been identified and there have been no new cases since mid-September, according to a press release. There are up to 10 documented cases of E. coli a year in Marin, usually in isolated cases or small clusters.

Two children and two adults were hospitalized, but have since been discharged. 

4 sick in Calif. E. coli O157 outbreak; it’s the end of month, still no answers

In mid-August, California health types said they expect to “have a probable origin by the end of the month” for an E. coli O157 outbreak that sickened at least four people in North County.

It’s past the end of the month.

While the identities of the sick have not been released other than to say they’re not all children, The Tribune learned independently that one of the people hospitalized was a 12-goat.petting.zooyear-old girl from the Creston 4-H Club who showed a dairy goat during the California Mid-State Fair.

The health department declined to disclose whether the fair is being investigated as a possible point of origin.

Mom of peanut allergy victim: Her last words were ‘I’m sorry’

Louis and Joanne Giorgi sat together in the backyard of their Carmichael home Wednesday morning. They held each others’ hands and clutched tissues as they spoke publicly for the first time since their 13-year old daughter died from an allergic reaction to a dessert treat they had no idea contained peanuts.

“To have lost her is devastating,” Joanne Giorgi told KCRA 3′s Mike TeSelle.

KCRA Channel 3 reports Natalie Giorgi’s parents are speaking publicly in hopes of using their daughter’s death as a push for change, and a vehicle for educating the public about peanut-victim2-JPGthe seriousness of food allergies.

“This can be a catalyst for a paradigm shift, much the way seat belt use has changed since when we were kids,” Louis Giorgi said.

Natalie Giorgi died July 26 after eating a Rice Krispie treat that had been prepared with peanut products at Camp Sacramento on the final day of a multi-family camping trip, her parents said.

Giorgi had a documented allergy to peanuts.

“We had been there before. We had eaten their Rice Krispie treats before. We had never had a problem before,” Louis Giorgi said.

Giorgi said immediately after taking one bite of the treat, his daughter told her parents.

She had been dancing with friends when she took the bite.

“We gave her Benadryl like we’d been told,” Natalie’s father said.

Over the next several minutes, the Giorgis said their daughter showed no signs of a reaction whatsoever.

“I kept asking, ‘are you OK?’ She kept telling me she was fine, and she wanted to go back to dancing with her friends,” Natalie’s mom said. 

Natalie kept asking her parents to go back to her friends, but they kept telling her she had to stay with them, to make sure she was OK.

“Then suddenly, she started vomiting,” Louis said. “It spiraled downhill out of control so quickly.”

Natalie’s father, a physician, administered both of the EPI-Pens — used to slow or stop an allergic reaction — that the family carried with them.

A third was obtained from the camp and administered. None of them stopped her reaction. Her dad called 911.

“I did everything right, in my opinion. I couldn’t save her,” Louis Giorgi said.

Emergency responders who arrived later couldn’t save her, either.

“She had been fine, and had been talking to us. This was a worst-case scenario. One of the last things she said was, ‘I’m sorry mom,’” Natalie mother said as she wiped a tear away from her cheek.

The Giorgis said one of the many reasons they are sharing Natalie’s story is to convince skeptical parents that food allergies in children is very real.

More information can be found at Nateam.org.

138 sickened; norovirus outbreak confirmed at Calif. restaurant In Feb.

Following weeks of investigation, an outbreak of norovirus in February at midtown’s Mulvaney’s B&L has been confirmed by Sacramento County public health officials. The investigation found that 138 people – including at least six food service workers – reported symptoms. One mulvaneys.b.l.13patron later tested positive for norovirus, and two food service workers tested positive for norovirus.

The Sacramento Bee says the report did not identify if norovirus was first introduced to the restaurant by a worker or patron. The outbreak occurred over six events, including a company dinner and family-style dinner – over four days in late February. A lawyer for Mulvaney’s first informed county health officials that a number of patrons had fallen ill.

Since the outbreak was limited to a specific range of dates, and no further cases of illness were reported, Mulvaney’s has continued to operate. The popular midtown eatery passed its most recent food facility inspection on Feb. 13.

The report entailed interviews with 256 patrons, and the consumption of Turkish coffee pudding, pickled beet salad and ham showed the greatest risk of norovirus exposure. On the contrary, some foods including rib-eye and mushroom pasta did not show a link to illness. The report theorizes these dishes were prepared by non-ill restaurant workers.

Chef and proprietor Patrick Mulvaney said he’s continuing to work with county officials to make sure a similar episode doesn’t happen again.

“Obviously, I was horrified and frustrated and confused about it,” said Mulvaney. “Since then we’ve worked hand in hand with the (county) medical officer and redoubled our efforts about handwashing.”

Blame Australia: norovirus strain strikes California county

A new strain of a stomach virus has caused at least three outbreaks in San Luis Obispo County within the past month, according to local norovirus-2health officials.

All three outbreaks, two of which occurred in restaurants and one in a long-term care facility, were caused from a new strain of the Norovirus from Australia, GII strain. 

Filthy water for ag workers in California

Like most children, the students at Stone Corral Elementary School in Seville, Calif., here rejoice when the bell rings for recess and delight in christening a classroom pet.

But while growing up in this impoverished agricultural community of numbered roads and lush citrus orchards, young people have learned a harsh life lesson: “No tomes el agua!” — “Don’t drink the water!”

According to the New York Times, Seville, with a population of about 300, is one of dozens of predominantly Latino unincorporated communities in the Central Valley plagued for decades by contaminated drinking water. It is the grim result of more than half a century in which chemical fertilizers, animal wastes, pesticides and other substances have infiltrated aquifers, seeping into the groundwater and eventually into the tap. An estimated 20 percent of small public water systems in Tulare County are unable to meet safe nitrate levels, according to a United Nations representative.

In farmworker communities like Seville, a place of rusty rural mailboxes and backyard roosters where the average yearly income is $14,000, residents like Rebecca Quintana pay double for water: for the tap water they use to shower and wash clothes, and for the five-gallon bottles they must buy weekly for drinking, cooking and brushing their teeth.

It is a life teeming with worry: about children accidentally sipping contaminated water while cooling off with a garden hose, about not having enough clean water for an elderly parent’s medications, about finding a rock while cleaning the feeding tube of a severely disabled daughter, as Lorie Nieto did. She vowed never to use tap water again.

Chris Kemper, the school’s principal, budgets $100 to $500 a month for bottled water. He recalled his astonishment, upon his arrival four years ago, at encountering the “ghost” drinking fountains, shut off to protect students from “weird foggyish water,” as one sixth grader, Jacob Cabrera, put it. Mr. Kemper said he associated such conditions with third world countries. “I always picture it as a laptop a month for the school,” he said of the added cost of water.

Here in Tulare County, one of the country’s leading dairy producers, where animal waste lagoons penetrate the air and soil, most residents rely on groundwater as the source for drinking water. A study by the University of California, Davis, this year estimated that 254,000 people in the Tulare Basin and Salinas Valley, prime agricultural regions with about 2.6 million residents, were at risk for nitrate contamination of their drinking water. Nitrates have been linked to thyroid disease and make infants susceptible to “blue baby syndrome,” a potentially fatal condition that interferes with the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen.

2 dead, 4 sick from wild mushroom in California

I’m terrible at taxonomy. I’ve tried numerous times over 50 years to train my brain to identify things, but unless I really care about it, I don’t care.

I’m curious, and am constantly looking things up on the Internet, reading history, accumulating hockey or Neil Young trivia, but whenever Amy asks me, what’s that plant, or what’s that giant bug in our kitchen today, I shrug and say, don’t know.

Don’t care.

So when a Canadian colleague asked me about the jacarandas in Brisbane, I responded something like, oh, those trees with the purple leaves that are everywhere and contribute to the natural kaleidoscope that is Brisbane? They’re cool.

I also wouldn’t rely on my taxonomy non-skills to select wild mushrooms.

Unfortunately, Associated Press reports two residents of a Northern California assisted living facility have died and four others are hospitalized after eating soup with wild mushrooms prepared by a caregiver at the facility (who was among the sick).

Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Reed said the caregiver “just didn’t know” the mushrooms were poisonous.

California cantaloupe growers back state’s food safety program

Cantaloupe growers, packers and shippers in California say they’re hopeful the state’s new commodity-specific food safety program will bolster consumer confidence in their crop.

Jim Malanca, vice president of sales for Westside Produce Inc., Firebaugh, Calif., told The Packer several factors, including lingering effects from last fall’s listeria-tainted Colorado cantaloupe, probably contributed to this summer’s lethargic market.

“It’s very difficult to put your finger on ― everything that’s going on economy-wise, weather-wise and food safety-wise,” he said. “We’ve done as much as we can to make sure our food is safe for consumers, and we document everything.”

In response to last fall’s listeria outbreak, California cantaloupe growers and handlers enlisted the help of university and other food safety experts to develop a mandatory food safety program.

Members of the Dinuba-based California Cantaloupe Advisory Board unanimously approved the program in May.

Colace, who is also vice-chairman of the board, said he believes the program already has helped bolster confidence among retailers and buyers. But consumers may be a different story.

“I think the biggest thing is to educate the public that we have a piece of fruit that is very safe,” he said.

Then market food safety directly to consumers – at retail.

Calif. lettuce positive for E. coli O157:H7 in Canada

Canadians are being warned by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency not to eat Tanimura & Antle brand Romaine Lettuce from Salinas, Calif. because it may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The affected product, Tanimura & Antle brand Romaine Lettuce, produce of USA, is sold in a plastic package containing 1 head of lettuce. The package bears the UPC0 27918?? The affected product was sold at retail from August 8, 2012 through August 17, 2012.

This product has been distributed in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Nunavut and Yukon.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

3 sick; raw oysters linked to outbreak of Vibrio in Calif

Oysters from the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. in Marin County, California, have been linked to an outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus that has sickened at least three people.

KTVU reports the company is conducting a voluntary recall of the affected oysters, which include shucked oysters in 9 ounce, 1 pint, 1 quart and half-gallon jars and tubs, lot Nos. 363 through 421.

Affected in-shell oysters are sold individually or in bags sized from 1 dozen to 10 dozen, and marked with harvest tags between July 17 and Aug. 8.

Anyone in possession of the affected oysters should throw them away immediately, health department officials said.