130 cases of E. coli now confirmed in Alberta

Alberta Health Services has now confirmed 130 cases of E.coli infection in Alberta.

There are 63 confirmed cases in Calgary and 50 in the Edmonton region.

supershedder.e.coliAHS has not confirmed the source of the bacterial infection. However, health officials are urging the population to take precautions to reduce the risk of infection. 

Those precautions include washing hands with hot, soapy water — especially after using the bathroom — before preparing food and after touching raw meat.

AHS also suggests cooking beef to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit and washing all fruit and vegetables.

Washing don’t do much.

Bacteria found in water samples from Malaysia’s vending machines

The water you buy from vending machines in Malaysia may not be as clean as you think.

bottled.water.malaysiaTwenty-nine samples of water were drawn from such machines throughout the Klang Valley – and almost all were contaminated.

There were harmful E. coli, Coliform and Clostridium perfringens microbes – the same kind of bacteria found in untreated sewage.

Coliform and Clostridium perfringens are also the same bacteria found in human and animal faeces.

These bacteria can cause cramps, diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems.

The Star conducted the tests together with Forum Air Malaysia, an organisation formed to assist the National Water Services Commission.

122 sick: Alberta health officials trying to pinpoint cause of E. coli outbreak

A spike of E. coli cases in Alberta has health officials trying to pinpoint the cause.

cow.poop.spinachThere have been over 120 cases reported over the last few weeks across the province. Officials say since July 15 there have been 59 confirmed cases in Calgary, 48 cases in Edmonton, seven cases in the South, six cases in the North and two cases in the Central zone.

Andrea Rohachuk says she fell victim to the illness after eating out at a southeast Calgary restaurant.

“It came on pretty quick,” she remembers. “I was in the hospital for about 10 hours before they sent me home, but definitely it was the sickest I’ve ever been in my whole life.

 “I’ve maybe had a little bit of food poisoning, it kind of just goes through you, but [E. coli] was a thousand times worse than that.”

So far, a single cause behind the outbreak hasn’t been identified.

“It is too early. We’re in the middle of the investigation, and we hope we’ll be able to identify a common source if possible,” says Dr. Richard Musto, AHS Medical Officer of Health for the Calgary Zone. “We’ve got this increased number, so we’re trying to see are there any patterns, anything that would link one case to another.”

Fail: eating grass-fed beef cannot help avoid E. coli infection

I’m getting to old for this shit – cow shit, that is.

HappyCow[1]Lisa Egan writes in Nutritional Anarchy, whatever that  is the commercial meat industry’s practice of keeping cattle in feedlots and feeding them grain that is responsible for the heightened prevalence of deadly E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. When cattle are grain-fed, their intestinal tracts become far more acidic, which favors the growth of pathogenic E. coli bacteria that can kill people who eat undercooked hamburger.

The author cites a 1998 study that has been completely discredited.

Since September 1998, there has been conflicting information on the effect of diet on E. coli shedding from cattle. The conflict arises in part from the effect of diet on the ability of E. coli to develop acid resistance. … Diez-Gonzalez et. al demonstrated that feeding a high-grain diet to cattle results in an acidic environment in the colon. Because the animals incompletely digested the starch in grains, some starch was able to reach the colon where it fermented, producing fermentation acids. The researchers believe an acidic environment selects for or induces acid resistance among the Escherichia coli population. … Diez-Gonzalez et al. concluded that if cattle were given hay for a brief period (five days) immediately before slaughter, the risk of foodborne E. coli infection would be significantly reduced because the acidity in the colon is greatly reduced. “Our studies indicate that cattle could be given hay for a brief period immediately before slaughter to significantly reduce the risk of food-borne E. coli infection.”

The Science article received mainstream media attention, and was covered by the Associated Press and The New York Times, as well as scientific releases and reports. In the Irish Times, it was cited as the basis for concluding that because Irish cattle are fed a grass-based diet rather than grain, Ireland has a low incidence of E. coli O157:H7. Hancock et al. contend that this conclusion is unsupported or contradicted by several lines of evidence. The E. coli that contaminate beef typically originate from the hide, the hooves, or the equipment used in slaughter and processing rather than directly from the colon, and likely replicate in environments unlike the colon. Therefore, the induced acid resistance of E. coli contaminating beef is likely to be unrelated to the pH of its ancestral colonic environment. The E. coli O157:H7 bacterium uses several mechanisms to survive acid environments, some of which are innate and are not influenced by environment . Although acid resistance is likely a factor in an infective dose, induced acid resistance has not been shown to be a factor in E. coli O157:H7 infectivity by experimental (dose-inoculation) or observational (epidemiological) data . Therefore, acid resistance induced by exposure to weak acid may not influence the virulence of this pathogen.

Published data on E. coli O157:H7 tends to contradict or does not support the effects of the dietary change proposed by Diez-Gonzalez et al. In a recent study on three different grain diets (85% cracked corn, 15% whole cottonseed and 70% barley, or 85% barley), the fecal pH of the animals fed the corn diet was significantly lower (P < 0.05) than the fecal pH of the animals fed the cottonseed and barley and barley diets, likely resulting in a less suitable environment for E. coli O157:H7 in the hindgut of the corn fed animals (2000, Buchko et al). In the Journal of Food Protection, researchers concluded that changing from grain to a high roughage diet did not produce a change in the E. coli concentration that was large enough to deliver a drastic improvement in beef carcass hygiene. Sheep experiencing an abrupt diet change have higher concentrations and increased shedding of fecal E. coli O157:H7 for longer periods than sheep fed a consistent high-grain diet. Another study compared the duration of shedding E. coli O157:H7 isolates by hay-fed and grain-fed steers experimentally inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 as well as the acid resistance of the bacteria. The hay-fed animals shed E. coli O157:H7 longer than the grain-fed animals, and irrespective of diet, these bacteria were equally acid resistant.

cow.poop2These results suggest that the proposed dietary change would actually increase contamination with E. coli O157:H7. Also, the 1,000-fold reductions in total fecal E. coli demonstrated by Diez-Gonzales et al. are far greater than those recorded in cattle experiencing similar ration changes . Finally, extensive surveys show that grain-fed feedlot cattle have no higher E. coli O157:H7 infection prevalence than similarly aged dairy cattle fed forage (hay) diets. Abrupt feed change immediately before slaughter could have unexpected deleterious effects. The proposed diet change has the potential to increase the risk of bovine salmonella infections, a potential source of food poisoning. The dietary change results in sharply reduced volatile fatty acid concentrations in the large intestine as well as changes in the bacteria, allowing for colonization of Salmonella.

Mike Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota wrote a cleaner critique in 2007 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune:

“Russo cited conclusions from a 1998 study from Cornell University that cattle fed a diet of grass, not grain, had very few E. coli, and that those bacteria that survived in the cattle feces would not survive in the human when eaten in undercooked meat, particularly hamburger. This statement is based on a study of only three cows rotated on different diets and for which the researchers did not even test for E. coli O157:H7. Unfortunately, the authors extrapolated these incredibly sparse results to the entire cattle industry. The Cornell study is uncorroborated in numerous published scientific papers from renowned research groups around the world. Finally, work conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health as part of a national study on foodborne disease recently showed that eating red meat from local farms was a significant risk factor for E. coli infection. …

And as my colleague David Renter wrote in Sept. 2006,

“Cattle raised on diets of ‘grass, hay and other fibrous forage’ do contain E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in their feces as do other animals including deer, sheep, goats, bison, opossum, raccoons, birds, and many others.

“Cattle diet can affect levels of  E. coli O157:H7, but this is a complex issue that has been and continues to be studied by many scientists.  To suggest switching cattle from grain to forage based on a small piece of the scientific evidence is inappropriate and irresponsible.  Several pieces of evidence suggest that such a change would not eliminate and may even increase E. coli O157:H7 in cattle.

“The current spinach outbreak may be traced back to cattle manure, but there are many other potential sources.  Simplistically attacking one facet of livestock production may be politically expedient, but instead provides a false sense of security and ignores the biological realities of E. coli O157:H7. In 1999, for example, 90 children were felled by E. coli O157:H7 at a fair in London, Ont. The source? A goat at a petting zoo, hardly an intensively farmed animal.”

Last time I looked, E. coli O157:H7 and about 60 other shiga-producing E. coli that are known to cause illness in humans are present in about 10 per cent of all ruminants – cattle, sheep, goats, deer, elk -– and I can point to outbreaks associated with all of those species. Pigs, chickens, humans, birds and rodents have all been shown to be carriers of shiga-producing E. coli but the resevoir appears to be ruminants.

That Cornell paper can be found here:

Diez-Gonzalez, Francisco, Todd R. Callaway, Menas G. Kizoulis, James B. Russell. Grain Feeding and the Dissemination of Acid-Resistance Escherichia coli from Cattle. Science: Sept 11, 1998. Volume 281, Number 5383, pages 1666-1668.

Russia bans Australian kangaroo meat due to E. coli (or non-tariff trade barrier)

The kangaroo meat trade to Russia was initially suspended back in 2008, and then reopened in November 2012.

skippyThe most recent ban was put in place in May this year, but Fiona Corke from the Australian Society for Kangaroos says this information was never made public.

“No politician has come forward and said anything, the kangaroo industry hasn’t come forward and said anything, and we think the public has a right to know.

“Kangaroo meat is marketed to them as being a healthy superfood, yet we have a country that doesn’t want to buy it any more because they’ve found excessive amounts of bacterial contamination.”

The managing director of Macro Meats, which was the sole supplier of kangaroo meat to Russia, says the company is working to reopen the kangaroo meat trade.

Ray Borda says Russia was using the wrong testing standards for kangaroo meat.

Kangaroo export markets generate demand for the meat, creating incentive for harvesters, who then help landholders control the vast kangaroo population in outback Australia.

Western Queensland kangaroo harvester Graham Mackney says harvesters were not formally notified of the ban.

“We all found out by word of mouth.”

He says another ban due to high levels of E.coli looks bad for the industry.

“If it was E.coli again we really have to start looking at where and why this problem keeps happening and put prevention measures in place.”

Metwurst recalled in Australia for E. coli

No information on which E. coli strain or other pertinent facts, but that’s usual for Australian government.

Kalleske Meats. Garlic MetwurstKalleske Meats has recalled Garlic Metwurst, sold at Crystal Brook and Cleve rural agriculture and produce shows on  Saturday 9th Aug and Thursday 14th Aug in South Australia. The recall is due to due to the potential for E. coli contamination. 

Detroit-area cheese producer focus of Department of Justice complaint alleging unsanitary conditions

The U.S. Department of Justice wants a Michigan producer of Italian cheeses to quit making and selling products until it comes into full compliance with food safety laws.

S. Serra Cheese CompanyAccording to a news release from the department’s Civil Division, the federal complaint alleges S. Serra Cheese Company’s cheeses are manufactured in unsanitary conditions, and that the company’s procedures are inadequate to ensure the safety of its products. 

Company representatives, including co-owner Fina Serra, when contacted by telephone Wednesday declined to discuss the civil complaint filed Aug. 8 in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan against the company and her and co-owner Stefano Serra. The complaint hopes the court will prevent the distribution of “adulterated” cheese.

According to the complaint, “the company repeatedly failed to reduce the risk of contamination from two potentially dangerous types of bacteria: Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Listeria innocua (L. innocua).”

S. Serra Cheese Company manufactures and distributes several varieties of Italian cheeses, such as ricotta, provolone, and mozzarella available at groceries and restaurants.

Some ready-to-eat foods fail second Taipei E. coli tests

Ready-to-eat foods are a convenient choice for people, but four out of 100 products were found to contain excessive levels of Escherichia coli bacteria, even after a retest, the Taipei City Government’s Department of Health said yesterday.

pot-stewed snacksInitial testing results showed that of the 100 ready-to-eat food products, ranging from pot-stewed snacks, cold sesame noodles and sandwiches to lunchboxes, hamburgers and rice rolls that the department purchased from convenience stores, street food stalls, hypermarkets and coffee shops in the city in May and June, 24 contained E. coli at levels exceeding the maximum permissible limit.

Irish child care remains closed to assist E. coli cleaning

A childcare facility in Cavan remains closed for cleaning following an outbreak of E. coli over four weeks ago. In a statement to Northern Sound News, the HSE say there have been factors relating to the cleaning and the fabric of the crèche that have been outside of the control of the Health Executive and under the control of the crèche management.

daycare_children_pictures_242_op_800x533The HSE was notified of the latest case of E. coli at the childcare facility in Cavan over one month ago. It followed a confirmed case of a similar infection in another child in the same facility in April. The Health Service Executive says no source was identified for the infection in the previous case.

9 sick with E. coli: another year, another E. coli outbreak at a county fair

There have been nine confirmed cases of E. coli in Rice County, Minnesota, all of whom were in attendance at the Rice County Fair.

royal.petting.zooTina Schlottman, an infection prevention nurse at District One Hospital, said they have seen four of the nine patients at their campus.

According to an email that was sent to the Rice County Agriculture Society board of directors and shared with the Daily News, the Minnesota Department of Health informed fair officials last week that a case of E. coli had been reported to the department. After further investigating, it was found to have come from the county fair.

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Health did not return a call for comment on Monday.

Rice County Fair Manager John Dvorak said he was made aware of the incident last Thursday.

“They determined it was coming from Rice County,” he said. “But (those infected) were at other fairs prior to ours.”


Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions

Zoonoses and Public Health

G. Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman  and D. Powell


Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the US caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-4-8-14.xlsx.