4,700 sick: Second death linked to NZ campy outbreak

A second death has been linked to the Campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North, NZ.

jean.sparksman.cryptoThe Hawke’s Bay District Health Board states the woman in her nineties was admitted to Hawke’s Bay Hospital during the contamination crisis, which has affected more than 4,700 people.

The DHB say while the woman had campylobacter, she died from an unrelated medical condition yesterday evening.

This comes as the coroner investigates the death of 89 year old Jean Sparksman (right) who died on August 13th while also suffering campylobacter.

The coroner won’t be holding a formal investigation into the recent death of the woman in her nineties, as there is not direct link to the gastro bug.

Campy overestimates: FSA accused of undermining meat industry

Alex Black of FG Insight reports the UK Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has claimed the Food Standards Agency (FSA) ’appears to continue to undermine the meat processing sector’ with misleading campylobacter figures.

AIMS_LOGO_2008_002An article in The Meat Trades Journal quoted figures published on the Food Standards Agency website stated campylobacter was believed to cause 100 deaths a year.

However, AIMS pointed out the figure was an extract from a FSA funded paper which said ’We could not estimate deaths attributable to foodborne illness, due to the lack of reliable data sources on pathogen-specific mortality rates’.

AIMS head of policy, Norman Bagley, said: “Selectively quoting from its own commissioned report on its own website has once again undermined the excellent work and progress the industry has made on combating campylobacter.

“Stating that campylobacter causes 100 deaths a year is just not based on science and leads to continuing scary, misleading stories being carried in both the trade and consumer media, which once again, undermines our sector.

“This is far from helpful and needs to stop.”

A FSA spokesman said: “We explain on our website that the campylobacter deaths figure is a previous estimate, and that we are continuing to analyse the full impact that campylobacter has.

“We are determining which updated figures to use in the future.”

Chlorine is good: 4100 sick from NZ water, mayor says chlorination ‘will get a bloody good fight from us’

While his neighbours still suffer from the country’s worst case of mass water contamination, Napier Mayor Bill Dalton says his city will fight to keep chlorine out of its town supply.

bill.daltonLower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace is also rejecting calls for all town water supplies to be chlorinated in the wake of the Havelock North contamination crisis.

About 74,000 Lower Hutt residents from Pomare to Petone drink chlorine-free water sourced from the Waiwhetu aquifer. The rest of greater Wellington’s supply is chlorinated.

In Hawke’s Bay, Napier, Hastings and Havelock North’s town supplies have been chlorine-free but the chemical was added to Havelock North water to treat a campylobacter contamination on August 12, and to the Hastings supply as a precaution last week.

Water treatment engineer Iain Rabbitts said chlorination should be made mandatory to avoid a repeat of the Havelock North crisis, adding, “We knew this was going to happen at some point in one of the unchlorinated supplies in New Zealand and we all hoped it wouldn’t be too bad.”

But Dalton said Napier would resist a move to mandatory chlorination “incredibly strongly because one of the points of difference of Napier is our wonderfully pure, unadulterated water supply”.

He did not want the city serving up the type of chlorine-tainted water other cities, such as Auckland, had to endure, he said.

dumbass“The first thing we do when we’re heading north is we pick up heaps of bottles of water because we don’t drink the water up in Auckland because it bloody stinks.

“If the Government turns around and tries to play the heavy hand, then they’ll get a bloody good fight from us.”

The only thing bloody about this scenario are the asses of the sick from constant pooping.

Marty Sharpe of Stuff also writes it now appears all but certain that a routine test of the Havelock North water supply showed it was clear of E.coli when it cannot have been.

The same test procedure is used by councils around the country, and its apparent failure in Havelock North may result in a reappraisal of whether current testing standards are robust enough.

Those questions are likely to form part of the government inquiry into the outbreak, announced on Monday.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board chief executive Kevin Snee said on Monday that a survey of the 4500 residents affected by the campylobacter outbreak revealed they were most probably first exposed to the bug through their drinking water about Saturday, August 6, and that their symptoms first started showing on Monday, August 8.

But a routine test by Hastings District Council of the water supply on Tuesday, August 9, came back clear, showing no sign of E.coli. The test takes 24 hours, so the results came on Wednesday.

If they had shown positive at that point, the water system would have been chlorinated immediately.

The next routine test, on Thursday, August 11, came back on Friday as positive for E.coli. By that stage it was clear from DHB records that there was widespread illness in the area, and the decision was made to chlorinate.

E.coli, a common gut bacterium in warm-blooded animals, is used as an indicator of the contamination of water by excrement. It indicates there may be other pathogenic bacteria such as campylobacter.

Public Health Services drinking water assessor Peter Wood, who is in Hawke’s Bay working on the outbreak, said there could be situations of “sheer dumb luck” when E.coli was present in the water but not detected.

Brits want Campy reduced in chickens; testing to be resumed

The UK Food Standards Agency reports that two thirds (66%) of consumers think the industry should continue to reduce campylobacter beyond the agreed current target of less than 10% of chickens at the most highly contaminated level. Retailers should also be telling customers what proportion of chickens are at this highest level of contamination, according to 75% of those questioned.

chickenThe research has been released to coincide with the resumption this month of our campylobacter survey, part of our on-going efforts to reduce the high levels of food poisoning caused by the bug. Testing was suspended in April so we could update the way the survey was carried out to ensure results continued to be robust.

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the FSA, said, “Publishing surveillance data on campylobacter has prompted action from retailers and processors and we are now seeing progress. Our campaign has also raised awareness of campylobacter amongst the public and it is good to see from our research that it is customers, and not just the FSA, demanding action and information from retailers. We have always said that consumer power will ultimately push industry action.

“Many retailers and processors should be commended for the action they have taken so far.  The majority signed up to the pledge to ensure that campylobacter in chicken ceases to be a significant public health issue, and continued action will be needed to deliver this.”

The FSA’s research shows that 76% of people questioned want retailers to be more proactive in telling them what actions they are taking to reduce the campylobacter levels on the raw chicken they sell. More than half of people (53%) said that they would start buying chicken from another retailer if their usual shop was found to sell more than the industry average ‘high risk’ chicken.

Over 4000 sick from Campylobacter in NZ water

With over 4,000 now sick from drinking water contaminated with Campylobacter in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said today charges could be laid.

Hawke's BayAccording to Nicholas Jones of the NZ Herald, Key is backing the Hastings District Council, saying it acted as quickly as it could. But he told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking there could be court action, as it’s not clear whether the contamination contributed to the death of a woman in a rest home.

He says that court action could involve civil or criminal charges.

The Ministry of Education says all Havelock North’s schools and early childhood centres are expected to be open today.

After the rolls are taken at Havelock North Intermediate this morning the students will be gathered for an assembly.

“We’ll just talk through hygiene basically. Over the next little while we’ll have the Red Cross in during the day at points. We’ll be talking about using the hand sanitisers and washing hands properly when using the loo,” said Principal Julia Beaumont.

At the weekend, the Hawke’s Bay DHB said interim results from the Institute of Environmental Science and Research suggests contamination from cattle and other four-legged farm animals may have been in the water.

Dr Bridgette Sullivan-Taylor, an extreme event expert at Auckland University, criticised the official reaction to the outbreak, saying she was “staggered” at how quickly the disaster snowballed out of control.

“Better planning could have minimised unintended consequences and downstream effects that make the disaster worse. The fact that contaminated water was brought into Havelock North in a tanker is staggering.”

3200 sick with Campy in NZ town: Govt to hold inquiry into Havelock North water contamination

As the number of sick people increased to 3,200 in Havelock North, New Zealand, a town of 13,000, focus has shifted to the source of the Campylobacter in the water supply, particularly a mushroom farm.

emersonAn investigation into a previous contamination in Havelock North’s water supply has found earthworks on a neighboring mushroom farm may be to blame.

The government will hold its own independent inquiry into the contamination of Havelock North’s water supply, it has announced.

I served on the inquiry after the Walkerton E. coli O157:H7 outbreak killed seven and sickened 2,500 in a town of 5,000.

My second daughter is getting married on Saturday, she was 10 when Walkerton happened, and we were and still are close friends with some of the families involved.

Cute grandson (I used to have hair like that).

All the news, it just repeats itself.

Safe water is a public health priority.

NZ growers provide absolutes and soundbites in campy outbreak

Water is often a concern in fresh produce.

Irrigation water standards associated with FSMA (are the indictors correct? are there geographical differences? Is the measure protective?) are being discussed in food safety meetings all over the place.

In the absence of good science and a whole bunch of variability I figure that folks will eventually just treat water (with something) instead of trying to test their way to safety.Water_Irrigation

Wash water can be trouble too.

I guess we could all move to New Zealand where, according to Newshub, campy has been spread through a municipal water system and local growers, who may or may not have been using the water, say ‘there are no risks because of the food safety systems.’

Growers are desperate to reassure the public it’s safe to eat fruit and vegetables from Hawke’s Bay, despite the region’s contaminated water supply.

“You need to have a fruit cut open… and for contaminated water to touch the cut-open bit of fruit for there to be a problem,” says chief executive Mike Chapman (no relation -ben).
“It’s a long, long, long stretch for anything to be of concern to the public.”

However, many growers in the region are holding off on picking their crops as a precaution.

“Even if [they were], there are no risks because of the food safety systems we have,” says Mr Chapman.

There’s always a risk. Pathogens can internalize. Show me the data.

Hundreds sickened with Campylobacter in NZ town’s water supply

At least 200 people have been stricken by what appears to be Campylobacter in Havelock North, New Zealand, and residents say Hastings District Council knew the town’s water supply was contaminated hours before they told people to stop drinking it.

Havelock North, New ZealandCassandra Heke said she was angry she heard about the contaminated water from her friends before the council made the issue public.

“The council knew about it on Friday morning but didn’t tell anyone.”

She had chosen to keep her child home for the day, but had called in for some voluntary work at Havelock North Primary School. “I think it’s dreadful, especially the elderly, it’s hurt the community.”

She commended the school’s ability to communicate with them as parents and update them as the saga worsened.

The outbreak has been linked to an underground bore which tested positive for E. coli.

Hastings District Council was unable to be reached for comment this morning.

Colleen Pascoe had just done the school run for her grandchildren while their mother lay sick at home.

“It’s disgusting the council didn’t tell us.”

She said her daughter, not knowing the sickness was waterborne, had focussed on keeping her fluids up drinking lots of water. Catherine Wedd, who had just dropped her child off at school, said she was angry about the lack of communication.

Hastings District Council issued a full page apology this morning for the contaminated water.

Hawke’s Bay Hospital confirmed two older people were critically ill in the intensive care unit. A death at a Havelock North rest home may also be linked to the illness.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board today said 183 people went to their local doctor and 11 people went to hospital for treatment on Sunday.

Today a leading researcher of infectious diseases said it was likely faecal run-off from sheep and cattle was the cause of this latest outbreak.

walkerton“Groundwater is much less likely to be contaminated than surface water, but if it is campylobacter, based on previous experiences, it is most likely to have come from cattle and sheep and run-off of effluent or faeces,” said Massey University Infectious Diseases Research Centre director professor Nigel French.

He said the outbreak demonstrated even secure groundwater could become contaminated and testing and treatment was advised to ensure the best public health outcomes particularly if there had been a high-risk event such as heavy rainfall.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Nicholas Jones said gastroenteritis affected older and younger people much more severely and older people needed to seek medical help early on if they weren’t getting better or couldn’t keep fluids down. The same applied to young children.

He said they encouraged the community to keep an eye out for older people living alone.

“The boil notice will remain until we are confident there is no other bug resistant to chlorination in the water, which is expected to take several days,” he said.

Hands needed to be washed thoroughly by using plenty of soap, cleaning under fingernails, rinsing hands well and drying on a clean towel: before and after preparing food, after going to the toilet or changing a baby’s nappy, after caring for sick people and after touching animals.

What water are the residents supposed to use?

Go with data or go home: It’s still a f*cking pink chicken

Steve Sayer of MeatingPlace, the home of all things meat, has much praise for Food Safety Scotland’s pink chicken advice, which is apparently grounded to “ensure that public information and advice on food safety, standards, and pink.chicken.fss.jun.16nutrition are accurate while being consumer-focused. It’s obvious that the FSS plucked the pink chicken mascot to warn Scottish consumers about the possibility of getting sick by consuming seemingly under-grilled/cooked chicken that’s still pink internally.

“However, the only exception was the insistence that the internal color of properly grilled chicken should never be pink.

“The USDA has long stated that reaching the internal temperature of 165 degrees F., (by measuring at the thickest part of the chicken) will kill pathogens and is safe to consume. The USDA has also claimed that the internal coloring is not always an accurate indicator whether chicken is properly cooked or grilled, which includes, you guessed it, the color pink.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think the Scot’s pink message bird is rather clever and its intent admirable, as it could very well lessen the amount of people undercooking their summer grilled chicken. But the fact remains it’s not completely accurate.”

It’s a f*ucking pink chicken and it’s wrong.

So how can anything else this science-based organization say be accepted as accurate?

Go with the data or go home.

Waste of money.

Microbiology of cattle poop

Cattle are a natural reservoir of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and have recently been recognized as a major source of Campylobacter jejuni contamination. While several factors are known to be associated with bacterial colonization, the underlying microbial factors have not been clarified.

dodd.poopIn this study, we characterized the fecal microbiota of dairy cattle (n = 24) using next-generation sequencing to elucidate the intestinal bacterial communities and the microbial diversity in relation to the presence of the foodborne pathogens STEC and C. jejuni (STEC-positive samples, n = 9; STEC-negative samples, n = 15; C. jejuni-positive samples, n = 9; and C. jejuni-negative samples, n = 15). While no significant differences were observed in alpha diversity between STEC-positive and STEC-negative samples, a high diversity index was observed in C. jejuni-positive samples compared to C. jejuni-negative samples. Nine phyla, 13 classes, 18 orders, 47 families, 148 genera, and 261 species were found to be the core microbiota in dairy cattle, covering 80.0–100.0% of the fecal microbial community. Diverse microbial communities were observed between cattle shedding foodborne pathogens and nonshedding cattle. C. jejuni-positive cattle had a higher relative abundance of Bacteroidetes (p = 0.035) and a lower relative abundance of Firmicutes (p = 0.035) compared to C. jejuni-negative cattle. In addition, while the relative abundance of 2 and 6 genera was significantly higher in cattle-shedding STEC and C. jejuni, respectively, the relative abundance of 3 genera was lower in both STEC- and C. jejuni-negative cattle.

Our findings provide fundamental information on the bacterial ecology in cattle feces and might be useful in developing strategies to reduce STEC or C. jejuni shedding in dairy cattle, thereby reducing the incidence of STEC infection and campylobacteriosis in humans.

The fecal microbial communities of dairy cattle shedding Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli or Campylobacter jejuni

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. July 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2121.

Dong Hee-Jin, Kim Woohyun, An Jae-Uk, Kim Junhyung, and Cho Seongbeom

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2016.2121