19-year-old dies in Oslo from suspected food poisoning

Nyheter reports police have initiated an investigation after a 19-year-old boy died in Oslo on Tuesday.

oslo-university-hospital-ambul_10876310Oslo police are assisting health authorities to find out why 19-year-old died suddenly.

The preliminary autopsy report does not give a clear answer on the cause of death, but it is less likely that it concerns a source of infection. It has probably happened a type of food poisoning, says section leader Rune Shields by Finance and Environmental Crime Section of the Oslo police.

Police have sealed off the family’s home and seized food, but there is no suspicion that there has been no crime.

We have taken a great deal of products at their home, which will now be analyzed, says Shields.

The 17-year-old sister of 19-year-old is too ill. Her condition has been critical, but during the past day has stabilized, police said.

The 19-year-old was a guest at a restaurant in Oslo before he became ill, but not her sister. As things stand now, it is most likely that food poisoning happened at their home.

Infection Control Superior in Oslo, Tore W. Steen, confirmed that he is involved in the case.

Tragic: Japanese woman dies of sequela of E. coli poisoning 20 yrs after infection

In June 1996, initial reports of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Japan surfaced in national media.

radish_sproutsBy July 1996, focus had centered on specific school cafeterias and two vendors of box lunches, as the number of illnesses approached 4,000. Lunches of sea eel sushi and soup distributed on July 5 from Sakai’s central school lunch depot were identified by health authorities as a possible source of one outbreak. The next day, the number of illnesses had increased to 7,400 even as reports of Japanese fastidiousness intensified. By July 23, 1996, 8,500 were listed as ill.

Even though radish sprouts were ultimately implicated — and then publicly cleared in a fall-on-sword ceremony, but not by the U.S. — the Health and Welfare Ministry announced that Japan’s 333 slaughterhouses must adopt a quality control program modeled on U.S. safety procedures, requiring companies to keep records so the source of any tainted food could be quickly identified.

Kunio Morita, chief of the ministry’s veterinary sanitation division was quoted as saying “It’s high time for Japan to follow the international trend in sanitation management standards.”

Japanese health authorities were tragically slow to respond to the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, a standard facilitated by a journalistic culture of aversion rather than adversarial. In all, over 9,500 Japanese, largely schoolchildren, were stricken with E. coli O157:H7 and 12 were killed over the summer of 1996, raising questions of political accountability.

The national Mainichi newspaper demanded in an editorial on July 31, 1996, “Why can’t the government learn from past experience? Why were they slow to react to the outbreak? Why can’t they take broader measures?” The answer, it said, was a “chronic ailment” — the absence of anyone in the government to take charge in a crisis and ensure a coordinated response. An editorial cartoon in the daily Asahi Evening News showed a health worker wearing the label “government emergency response” riding to the rescue on a snail. Some of the victims filed lawsuits against Japanese authorities, a move previously unheard of in the Japanese culture of deference.

Today, the sad news arrived that a 25-year-old woman in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, died in last October of an aftereffect of her infection with E. coli O157 in 1996.

radish.sprouts.2The woman had been suffering renal vascular hypertension, a sequela of hemolytic-uremic syndrome she developed upon her infection with O-157 when she was a first-grade student, the city government said, adding the direct cause of her death was brain bleeding due to the hypertension.

Sakai Mayor Osami Takeyama said in a comment that the city will redouble efforts for safety control and crisis management.
 The municipal government now plans to provide compensation for the family of the woman.

The current version of events in July 1996, according to the Japanese, was 9,523 sick, including 7,892 elementary school children, in Sakai who ate school lunch or other food were infected with the E. coli bacteria. In the massive outbreak, three girls died.


Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 2-year-old dies from E. coli related HUS in Argentina

Health Minister of the province Roberto Schwartz confirmed the death of a 2-year-old admitted Feb. 21, 2016 to the San Luis Hospital with characteristic symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome.

hemolytic-uremic-syndromeSchwartz, who described the outbreak as “sporadic,” said the province has the inputs and technology needed to diagnose and treat the disease, which occurs by exposure to bacteria in poorly cooked meat or through (poor) food processing. The minister recommended using domestic prevention measures such as cooking red meats, especially hamburgers, sausages and meatballs, at a suitable temperature, and washing hands before handling food, as well as appropriate kitchen hygiene to avoid cross-contamination of food.

The case that triggered the alert was preceded by that of a child from Mendoza, who vacationed in San Luis and entered the hospital on Jan. 28, 2016 with the same diagnosis, although it is unclear whether the cases are related.

Vibrio from undercooked scallop leads to wrongful death suit

There are certain folks who are at higher risk for foodborne illness, the young, elderly, pregnant and immunocompromised.

Food safety is about making risk decisions. When it comes to my kids, who can’t really make salient risk/benefit decisions around food safety, I’m cautious. I don’t mess around with undercooked meats and temp everything.scallops-065

Hope, faith, trust-based food safety is even riskier for those who are more susceptible to pathogens. Eating out is largely a trust-based activity; trust in the managers, food handlers and suppliers when it comes to keeping meals safe.

A San Diego man, who had a weakened immune system, died in 2014 following complications associated with Vibrio he got from an undercooked scallop dish in 2013, according to the Napa Valley Register. 

Redd restaurant in Yountville is being sued for wrongful death by the family of a San Diego man who claimed to have suffered food poisoning attributable to scallops eaten as an appetizer and as an entree.

Larry Sacknoff, 61, died Aug. 16, 2014, due to complications caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria found in estuarine or marine environments, according to court documents.

About a year earlier on July 21, 2013, Sacknoff enjoyed scallops at the Yountville restaurant, the suit alleges. He became ill with diarrhea, a symptom of Vibrio, and so did his friends, Mary and Scott Papas, who ate at Redd with him, according to the civil suit.

Sacknoff, a former television sportscaster in San Diego, had a history of heart problems and had recently undergone a heart transplant prior to visiting the restaurant. This caused him to have a compromised immune system and inhibited his ability to fight off infection, according to the complaint. “Larry’s fragile condition simply could not handle the aggressive Vibrio pathogen,” the family alleges.

He was treated in the San Diego area for the lingering effects of his infection between Aug. 2, 2013 and March 7, 2014, according to court documents. His treatment included several hospitalizations.

Redd Restaurant and Pierless Fish Corp., a scallop supplier based in Brooklyn, New York, were both named as defendants. In court papers, both denied all allegations.

A settlement with Pierless Fish Corp. was reached in September, and claims against the company were dismissed on Nov. 12, according to Pierless’ attorney Michael Burke with Vogl Meredith Burke LLP in San Francisco. Burke said the terms of the settlement are confidential.

In response to a complaint from Sacknoff’s family, Napa County’s environmental health division inspected the restaurant on Aug. 6, 2013.

Redd, which got a passing B grade, was found to be out of compliance in three food safety areas, including:

“Scallops prepared during this inspection were less than thoroughly cooked,” the inspector reported. Scallops were served between 108 and 132 degrees, failing to meet the 145-degree cooking requirement, according to the report.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages due to strict product liability, negligence, and breach of implied warranties. They also seek wrongful death damages and, in their complaint filed on July 16, 2015, demanded a jury trial.

A jury trial is scheduled for July 11.

When superstars die: Advancing science, one funeral at a time

I once had a lab with about 20 employees and graduate students.

Some worked out, some didn’t.

superstarI was starting to realize my first marriage was falling apart and masked that failure with other accomplishments.

But I didn’t really pay attention.

I’ve always been interested in science policy, and even started a Masters degree in philosophy of science until I realized that philosophical debates about how color is perceived and trees falling in an imaginary forest weren’t my thing.

However, I remain convinced that science advances in weird ways that we can’t always comprehend and that collaboration is a code-word for, I suck.

A new working paper by economics-types evaluates science and death.

We study the extent to which eminent scientists shape the vitality of their fields by examining entry rates into the fields of 452 academic life scientists who pass away while at the peak of their scientific abilities.

Key to our analyses is a novel way to delineate boundaries around scientific fields by appealing solely to intellectual linkages between scientists and their publications, rather than collaboration or co-citation patterns.

Consistent with previous research, the flow of articles by collaborators into affected fields decreases precipitously after the death of a star scientist (relative to control fields).

In contrast, we find that the flow of articles by non-collaborators increases by 8% on average. These additional contributions are disproportionately likely to be highly cited. They are also more likely to be authored by scientists who were not previously active in the deceased superstar’s field.

cheese.eating.surrender.monkeysOverall, these results suggest that outsiders are reluctant to challenge leadership within a field when the star is alive and that a number of barriers may constrain entry even after she is gone. Intellectual, social, and resource barriers all impede entry, with outsiders only entering subfields that offer a less hostile landscape for the support and acceptance of “foreign” ideas.

Most scientists, according to this analysis, are, in the wise words of The Simpson’s, cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

Does science advance one funeral at a time?


NBER Working Paper No. 21788

Pierre Azoulay, Christian Fons-Rosen, Joshua S. Graff Zivin


6 dead, 60 sick, in unknown Listeria outbreak in Germany

Listeriosis patient isolates in Germany have shown a new identical pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern since 2012 (n = 66).

listeria4Almost all isolates (Listeria monocytogenes serotype 1/2a) belonged to cases living in southern Germany, indicating an outbreak with a so far unknown source. Case numbers in 2015 are high (n = 28). No outbreak cases outside Germany have been reported. Next generation sequencing revealed the unique cluster type CT1248 and confirmed the outbreak. Investigations into the source are ongoing.

Since November 2012, a previously not observed pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern in human isolates of invasive L. monocytogenes serotype 1/2a has been detected in Germany with increasing frequency. Altogether 66 outbreak cases have been recorded, with 28 cases in 2015. Four cases were pregnancy-associated and six cases died in the course of the disease. Here we provide details of the ongoing outbreak.

 Ongoing outbreak of invasive Listeriosis, Germany, 2012 to 2015

Eurosurveillance, Volume 20, Issue 50, 17 December 2015

W Ruppitsch , R Prager, S Halbedel, P Hyden, A Pietzka, S Huhulescu, D Lohr, K Schönberger, E Aichinger, A Hauri, K Stark, S Vygen, E Tietze, F Allerberger, H Wilking


10 dead, 100 sickened by rotten dog meat in Cambodia

Six people died earlier in the week after eating the barbecued carcass of a dog believed to have been found by a roadside.

dog.meat.cambodiaFour others from the same remote village in the Kratié (or Kraches) province in the northeast of the country later died after consuming the meat as well as drinking rice wine on Tuesday.

The deaths began on Sunday after a 76-year-old man died several hours after cooking and eating the dead dog. 

In a zen-like twist, guests at his funeral, which was held the following day, also ate the leftover dog meat and were rushed to the hospital with acute food poisoning.

The deaths are in region of Cambodia where canines are regarded as a delicacy.

Just cook it doesn’t cut it: Egg factory owner in Germany arrested over man’s death from Salmonella

A poultry farmer whose contaminated eggs caused a Salmonella outbreak at a Birmingham, UK hospital has been arrested over the death of a man in Austria.

salm.eanygg.germFive patients died at Heartlands Hospital in Bordesley Green and the bacteria was traced back to eggs from factory Bayern Ei in Bavaria, Germany.

The same source of Salmonella is blamed for the death of a 75-year-old man.

Factory owner Stefan Pohlman is in custody accused of grievous bodily harm causing death, said a German lawyer.

The salmonella outbreak at Heartlands Hospital between 25 May and 18 June 2014, saw 32 staff and patients infected.

A report found it directly caused the death of one patient.

It played a part in other deaths because inadequately equipped wards, unmonitored food preparation and poor cleaning helped it spread, the report stated.

Lawsuit filed in norovirus-linked fatality

Foodborne norovirus is linked to around 5.5 million illnesses a year and costs the U.S. around $3 billion annually. Fortunately most of the cases result in a couple of days of really bad vomiting or diarrhea – but usually not deaths (an estimated 150 annually).

According to Oregon Live, a 2013 norovirus outbreak at Maggie’s Buns may have resulted in a unique and tragic outcome: 43-year-old Kevin Weeks’ died a week after exposure to the pathogen.Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 12.53.52 PM

The wife of a 43-year-old man who died after allegedly eating food contaminated with the norovirus has filed a $2.9 million lawsuit against a popular Forest Grove restaurant.

Stacey Weeks faults Maggie’s Buns for catering a meal that she believes was tainted with the norovirus. Her husband, Kevin Weeks, was a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry and ate the food at the work event on Friday, March 15, 2013.

Public health investigators said 15 other people fell ill by the following Saturday, but most were feeling better by Monday. Weeks, however, died the following Tuesday — four days after dining at the gathering.

Investigators determined that most of those who were sickened ate watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple or strawberries from a fruit tray. But investigators said in March 2013 that they didn’t know how the virus ended up there.

The virus is spread directly among people through contact or through contaminated food, water or surfaces. It’s highly contagious, but doesn’t usually kill.

Shortly after Weeks died, deputy state medical examiner Dr. Clifford Nelson said Weeks was exposed to the norovirus at the event, but it appeared that Weeks had health problems that caused his death. Nelson said, however, that he was awaiting some test results before he could draw a final conclusion.

Oliver Sacks on learning he has terminal cancer: How We Die and A Gentle Death

Oliver Sacks, a professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, the author of many books, including “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” has revealed he is dying, via the N.Y. Times.

oliver.sacks“My luck has run out,” is how Sacks, 81, announced to the world Thursday that he has terminal cancer.

The neurologist and author — his autobiography comes out this spring, and he has “several other books nearly finished — revealed his condition in an op-ed in Thursday’s New York Times that was soon being widely shared, and admired, online.

Here are five of the most frequently quoted words of wisdom from the column:

  1. Self-assessment: “I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.”
  2. Detachment: “I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future.”
  3. Gratitude: “I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return.”
  4. Focus: “There is no time for anything inessential.”
  5. Inimitability: “When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

This is what I wrote in Toronto’s Globe and Mail book review section in 1994, about my grandmother, who ended her own life in 1983.

After five years of painstaking care for her husband, who was slowly deteriorating from the cerebral ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, she decided that a sixth was not worth facing.

Her death was quick and without warning. One moment we were saying goodbye before a routine trip to the store, the next I was transferring her from car to wheelchair at the hospital emergency ward. Within 30 minutes she was officially deceased, the result of a major pharmaceutical overdose.

Looking back, I’ve often wondered what I would say to her, given the chance. Don’t do it, life is really okay. You are not alone. Things will get better.

But in reality, life is often harsh, she was often alone, and the prospects of yet another winter, trekking to the hospital each day to watch the person she had spent the vast majority of her life with become even more unfamiliar, meant that things certainly were not about to get better; at least not in any foreseeable future.

Humans have created powerful myths and rituals to accompany death, writes Sherwin Nuland in How We Die, but perhaps none more bizarre than the modern hospital, “where it can be hidden, cleansed of its organic blight, and finally packaged for modern burial. We can now deny the power not only of death but of nature itself. We hide our faces from its face, but still we spread our fingers just a bit, because there is something in us that cannot resist a peek.”

Dr. Nuland, a physician who has authored several books about the medical profession and continues to teach surgery and the history of medicine at Yale University, says this book was written to demythologize the process of dying, to present it in its biological and clinical realities. The changes at a cellular and organ-level that accompany heart attacks, stroke and cancer are presented in detail that may be intimidating to the uninitiated. Then again, any person who is faced with life-threatening disease can quite rapidly assimilate the medical jargon — they have to. Physicians capable of talking in clear, simple language are rare.

Marilynne Seguin’s A Gentle Death is an attempt to help ease that journey for patients and their families. Sequin, a registered nurse for over 30 years as well as a founding member and executive director of the Toronto-based Dying With Dignity tells how she, like Nuland, was trained to prolong life at all costs. Experience has taught her to question prevailing attitudes of the medical establishment and she stresses that patients must become informed and responsible for the medical decisions that affects their lives.

In presenting the many examples of people approaching death who Sequin has cared for, a common theme emerges. Rather than a passive silence, many approaching death wish to be at home, surrounded by the noise of children — the noise of life — rather than the sobering silence of loneliness.

Both books try to dispel the hero myth, the one where the nurse or physician is never to allow the patient to lose hope. Yet hope and wishing for miracles get in the way of true discussion; it robs people of their death.

Nuland writes we are currently in the vitamin era, following previous attempts to prolong life through the pseudoscience of monkey glands, mother’s milk, and, as King David tried, sleeping between two virgins. Coming soon will be expanded attempts to prolong life through the mass availability of human growth hormone, derived by genetic engineering, and gene therapy. Only “accurate knowledge of how a disease kills,” writes Nuland, “serves to free us from unnecessary terrors of what we might be fated to endure when we die. We may thus be better prepared to recognize the stations at which it is appropriate to ask for relief, or perhaps to begin contemplating whether to end the journey altogether.”

Which leads to the hotly debated topic of physician-assisted suicide and the right of rational individuals to decide how and when to end their lives. At this point the two books differ strongly. Nuland approves of Living Wills and other advanced care directives, instructing physicians what treatments to withhold in the face of terminal illness, but he strongly disapproves of physician-assisted suicide. Seguin, whoever, sees no distinction. Much of her book is devoted to a frank discussion of the practical advantages and limitations of such approaches.

Nuland, however, fails to come clean on the topic, when he mentions in passing that, “Like so many of my colleagues, I have more than once broken the law to ease a patient’s going, because my promise, spoken or implied, could not be kept unless I did so.” Seguin states quite clearly that many physicians have engaged in such activity, so why not create clear, legally-binding rules, as has been done in the Netherlands.

One Dutch physician who supports the new law says society needs a counterweight for the enormous technology of modern medicine. But more importantly he says, it gives the patient a chance to take leave openly of his children, his grandchildren, and others.

That openness seems crucial to further public discussion of death and dying. I still wonder what I would say to someone who is about to leave this earth on their own accord. Both books provide unique and moving insight into such conversations. Perhaps I now know what I might have said to my grandmother.