Elementary students served dog treats in Pennsylvania

There was this one time, at Kansas State University, and me and student Katie were walking back from the lab with our dogs, on a Sunday afternoon, and president Wefald drove by, recognized me, and stopped for a chat.

Jon told us about his physical therapy, and how he was biking around campus every day for exercise, and how he loved dogs.

dogs.lucy.brodyI told him about the salmonella-in-dog-food-outbreak-du-jour and how a bunch of people had gotten sick.

He recoiled and said, how would people get sick?

I explained cross-contamination and that some people eat pet food because it can be less expensive. Or maybe they like it. How the hell was I supposed to know?

During recess last Thursday afternoon, students at an elementary school in New Hanov, Penn., thought they were being handed a cookie, but it turned out to be dog treats served by a part-time aide.

An email was sent home to parents of students at New Hanover Upper Fredrick Elementary saying that their children were served dog treats that came from a pet store.

“I thought ‘wow, did I really eat dog treats? Something my own dog eats’?” one student said, who wished remain anonymous.

The aide who handed out to treats to students has been placed on administrative leave and was acting alone, school officials said in a statement.

“Our research on the product indicates that the treat ingredients would not be harmful to people, with exception for those individuals with specific food allergies,” the statement continued.

There are numerous on-going outbreaks of dangerous microorganisms in pet food because of a lack of microbial safety validation or sloppiness. And sometimes humans get sick too.

Norovirus common in children

Norovirus infection has become the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis in children under 5 in the U.S.

Payne et al. report in The New England Journal of Medicine that norovirus infection leads to an estimated 14,000 hospitalizations, 281,000 emergency room visits, and 627,000 outpatient visits a year.

The virus causes severe stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it leads to 800 norovirus-2deaths a year, but the vast majority of people infected recover completely.

For the new study, the researchers counted laboratory-confirmed cases in three United States counties in 2009 and 2010, so the sample may not be representative of the entire country. During that period, norovirus was confirmed in about 20 percent of cases of acute gastroenteritis in children. Infection with another virus, rotavirus, has become less common since the introduction of a rotavirus vaccine.

There is no vaccine and no cure for norovirus infection, and it is highly contagious. There are various strains of the virus, and some may be more potent than others.

Abstract below:

Background

Cases of rotavirus-associated acute gastroenteritis have declined since the introduction of rotavirus vaccines, but the burden of norovirus-associated acute gastroenteritis in children remains to be assessed.

Methods

We conducted active surveillance for laboratory-confirmed cases of norovirus among children younger than 5 years of age with acute gastroenteritis in hospitals, emergency departments, and outpatient clinical settings. The children resided in one of three U.S. counties during the years 2009 and 2010. Fecal specimens were tested for norovirus and rotavirus. We calculated population-based rates of norovirus-associated acute gastroenteritis and reviewed billing records to determine medical costs; these data were extrapolated to the U.S. population of children younger than 5 years of age.

Results

Norovirus was detected in 21% of young children (278 of 1295) seeking medical attention for acute gastroenteritis in 2009 and 2010, with norovirus detected in 22% (165 of 742) in 2009 and 20% (113 of 553) in 2010 (P=0.43). The virus was also detected in 4% of healthy controls (19 of 493) in 2009. Rotavirus was identified in 12% of children with acute gastroenteritis (152 of 1295) in 2009 and 2010. The respective rates of hospitalization, emergency department visits, and outpatient visits for the norovirus were 8.6, 146.7, and 367.7 per 10,000 children younger than 5 years of age in 2009 and 5.8, 134.3, and 260.1 per 10,000 in 2010, with an estimated cost per episode of $3,918, $435, and $151, respectively, in 2009. Nationally, we estimate that the average numbers of annual hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and outpatient visits due to norovirus infection in 2009 and 2010 among U.S. children in this age group exceeded 14,000, 281,000, and 627,000, respectively, with more than $273 million in treatment costs each year.

Conclusions

Since the introduction of rotavirus vaccines, norovirus has become the leading cause of medically attended acute gastroenteritis in U.S. children and is associated with nearly 1 million health care visits annually. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

2 dead, 195 sick from Salmonella outbreak linked to mail-order chicks

The pic, left, is from Sorenne’s pre-school yesterday.

The teachers-that-be decided at some point it was a good idea to get a chicken coup for the pre-school; I said it may be a bad idea, sent them a bunch of info about outbreaks, and left it at, you have to be a lot more careful than you thought.

There were some chickens in there for two weeks during spring break, and they came
from the grade 3 class across the road.

These are ducks; they came from one of the teachers, who fancies herself a bit of a foodie, but at least isn’t snobbish about it.

I asked if the ducks had pooped, because kids can’t be watched all the time in a 6-kid-1-teacher ratio.

Sorenne has taken to putting all sorts of things in her mouth and on the table when eating. I try to explain the be-the-bug concept; like today, Sorenne and I had lunch with a friend and his two pre-school daughters. They were putting flip-flops on the table; Sorenne was eating the menu. These are things kids do. The microbiological explanation didn’t go very far. The communal fries came with aioli dipping sauce, so I had to ask the café staff, how was the aioli made?

Raw eggs, but whole eggs.

Pasteurized or cooked?

No, raw.

I didn’t have any. Neither did Sorenne.

Kids will do all sorts of things, so platitudes about handwashing stations at petting zoos and washing hands when dealing with potentially risky things is nice but never enough.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports a total of 195 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Lille were reported from 27 states.

• 34% of ill persons were hospitalized;

• two deaths were reported; and,

• 33% of ill persons were children 10 years of age or younger.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio.

Mail-order hatcheries, agricultural feed stores, and others that sell or display chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry should provide health-related information to owners and potential purchasers of these birds prior to the point of purchase. This should include information about the risk of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry.

8400 kids now sick in German outbreak; probably norovirus from single food source

Last year it was sprouts that sickened some 4,400 and killed 53 in an outbreak centered in Germany; now the number of children that have fallen ill with vomiting and diarrhea after eating food from school cafeterias and daycare centers has risen from about 4,500 to 8,400.

Authorities in Berlin and the surrounding eastern German states reported the new gastroenteritis cases Saturday, while laboratory investigations to determine the exact cause of the outbreak were still under way.

Berlin’s health department says the sicknesses are moderate and most children recover within two days without requiring to be hospitalized.

That’s nice.

In Saxony state, at least 16 cases of norovirus, a mostly food- or water-borne illness, were proven, according to German news agency dapd.

The government-affiliated Robert Koch Institute said Friday that all facilities where the illness occurred likely received food from a single supplier.

196 sick with Salmonella; kids, step away from the turtle

Kissing turtles remains a bad idea.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports 196 people are infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella Sandiego, Salmonella Pomona, and Salmonella Poona in 31 states.

• 36 ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported;

• 63% of ill persons are children 10 years of age or younger, and 29% of ill persons are children 1 year of age or younger; and,

55% of ill persons are of Hispanic ethnicity. Information about the association between reptiles and Salmonella is now available in Spanish.

Results of the epidemiologic and environmental investigations indicate exposure to turtles or their environments (e.g., water from a turtle habitat) is the cause of these outbreaks.

Rate of dangerous E. coli in Irish children triples

Irish Health reports 13 children in Ireland have been hit with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a life-threatening complication of shiga-toxin producing E. coli that affects the kidneys, so far this year.

Provisional figures show a 200% increase in the number of STEC cases in the first half of 2012 compared with the same period last year, according to Dr Kevin Kelleher, head of health protection in the Health Service Executive (HSE).

There have been 212 reports of people being infected by strains of E. coli O157 in the first six months of this year, compared to 69 for the same period in 2011.

Part of the increase is thought to be due to heavy rainfall contaminating private water supplies, others largely in child-care centers.

Young brothers hospitalized with E. coli in Kentucky

The 1- and 2-year-old grandsons of Ray and Stephanie Bogucki have been in Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Kentucky, since Monday, suffering from what appears to be a shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

Ray Bogucki told The Ledger Independent on Thursday, "It is important people know this can happen. …

“The 1-year-old is showing signs of improvement. He has received two units of blood and seems to be getting better. The 2-year-old is on his third unit of blood and has had dialysis treatment. His blood pressure was high and he is being treated for that.”

The strain Bogucki’s grandchildren have is the type attributed to cattle, which could also be related to vegetables grown where cattle manure is used as fertilizer, he said.

“That was what confused us at first, because the 1-year-old is still eating baby food and not any meat,” Bogucki said. ”But the doctors said it can come from anywhere, even a petting zoo. They are farm kids, petting cattle and being around them.”

124 sick, up from 72; five multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to small turtles

Turtles in the 1960s and 1970s were inexpensive, popular, and low maintenance pets, with an array of groovy pre-molded plastic housing designs to choose from. Invariably they would escape, only to be found days later behind the couch along with the skeleton of the class bunny my younger sister brought home from kindergarten one weekend.

Maybe I got sick from my turtle.

Maybe I picked up my turtle, rolled around on the carpet with it, pet it a bit, and then stuck my finger in my mouth. Maybe in my emotionally vacant adolescence I kissed my turtle. Who can remember?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports there are now 124 confirmed cases of people, primarily kids, infected with outbreak strains of five different Salmonella outbreak strains in 27 states.

There’s a country-wide love for turtles in 2012, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale and distribution of turtles less than 4 inches in size as pets since 1975.

Two new multistate outbreaks linked to small turtles have been identified since the prior update on April 5, 2012. Overall, 5 multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infection are linked with exposure to small turtles. Results of the epidemiologic and environmental investigations indicate exposure to turtles or their environments (e.g., water from a turtle habitat) is the cause of these outbreaks.

• A total of 124 persons infected with outbreak strains of Salmonella Sandiego ( and B), Salmonella Pomona (A and B), and Salmonella Poona have been reported from 27 states.

• Small turtles (shell length less than 4 inches) were reported by 92% of cases.

• Forty-three percent of ill persons with small turtles reported purchasing the turtles from street vendors.

• 19 ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

• 67% of ill persons are children 10 years of age or younger.

• Small turtles (shell length less than 4 inches) were reported by 93% of cases with turtle exposure. Forty-three percent of ill persons with small turtles reported purchasing the turtles from street vendors.

The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alaska (2), Alabama (1), Arizona (3), California (21), Colorado (5), Delaware (3), Georgia (3), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (6), Michigan (2), Minnesota (1), Nevada (4), New Jersey (7), New Mexico (3), New York (24), North Carolina (1), Ohio (2), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (9), South Carolina (3), Texas (12), Virginia (3), Vermont (1), and West Virginia (1).

The complete update is available at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/small-turtles-03-12/index.html.

More raw milk, more kids sick; 3 ill in Oregon

Oregon health officials say three children under the age of 15 have been hospitalized with E. coli linked to raw milk from a small farm in Clackamas County.

The state Public Health Division said Friday that Foundation Farm has voluntarily stopped distributing milk.

Officials say lab tests confirm that a fourth child also has E. coli but has not been hospitalized. Health officials say other customers of the dairy are reporting recent diarrhea and other symptoms typical of the bacteria.

Grocery stores cannot sell raw, unpasteurized cow’s milk in Oregon. Officials say Foundation Farm distributed to 48 households that were part of a "herd share" — an arrangement in which people own one or more animals from a herd.

A table of raw milk related outbreaks is available at: http://bites.ksu.edu/rawmilk.

9 sick in Missouri, 2 kids in hospital, but raw milk faithful rally to the cause

Food to many is an evangelical calling.

Some find faith in monotheism, some in nature, some in the sports shrine (I prefer ice hockey, especially now that the playoffs have started and the cathedral once known as Maple-Leaf-Gardens-whatever-the-corporate-home-of-Toronto’s-disgrace-is-now is out of the theological debate), and some in the kitchen.

For some faiths, like creationism, biology don’t matter much.

So the headline in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, harking to centuries of food hucksterism, is not surprising: “Illnesses don’t dissuade raw milk fans.”

“Raw milk enthusiasts say an E. coli outbreak in Missouri won’t change their preference for unpasteurized dairy products.

“At least nine people in five counties in central and western Missouri have been sickened by E. coli since late March. Health officials have pointed to raw milk as a possible cause in at least four of the cases, including a 2-year-old from Columbia who remains hospitalized with severe complications.

“MooGrass Farms near Collinsville sells about 200 gallons of raw cow, goat and sheep milk each week, mostly to families from the St. Louis area, said the farm’s manager, Kevin Kosiek.

“His customers appreciate the taste of whole raw milk as well as the lack of heat processing that kills some of the nutrients.

"This is not a fad," Kosiek said. "People are going back to where people used to get their food, and that’s farmers doing natural, organic things."

“Kosiek and several other raw milk distributors said they doubt the E. coli outbreak will be ultimately linked to unpasteurized dairy products.”

Faith and biology don’t have to conflict. Facts are important, but never enough. It’s a religious thing.

A table of raw milk related outbreaks is available at: http://bites.ksu.edu/rawmilk.