3 sick with botulism in Spain and Germany linked to dried salted fish

Two cases of botulism in the province of Alicante and another in Germany linked to a brand of dried salted fish produced in The Netherlands has led to it being withdrawn from sale in various parts of Spain.

dried-roach-fish-salted-hanged-log-wall-drying-50980748Salted roach (rutilus rutilus, known in Spanish and branded as such in supermarkets asrutilo), stocked in refrigeration cabinets and bearing the identification number NL-6114-EG, distributed by Monolith Alimentos España Sur (in Valencia) and Norte (in Catalunya) has been taken off the shelves after two consumers in the province of Alicante reported having been apparently affected by the bug.

Both showed ‘very similar symptoms’, although it has yet to be confirmed whether they caught botulism from eating dried roach.

All supermarkets and delicatessens in the towns of Dénia, Altea, La Nucia, Torrevieja, Benidorm, Orihuela and Alicante city have taken it off the shelves, as have those in the province of Castellón, Gandia (Valencia province) and Valencia city.

In Catalunya, shops in Barcelona, Badalona and Sabadell (Barcelona province), Salou (Tarragona province) and Lleida have withdrawn it from sale.

The Spanish Consumer, Food Safety and Nutrition Agency (AECOSAN), part of the ministry of health, says it has received a European alert after a case of botulism in Germany thought to have been caused by the same product.

Michael Pollan didn’t invent microbiome research, he’s a demagogue: Set of 15 bacterial species protects mice from Salmonella as effectively as natural gut microbiota

The mammalian gut harbors thousands of microbial species – collectively known as the microbiota or microbiome – that interact with each other and with their host to form a complex ecosystem.

lmu-set-of-15-bacterial-species-protects-mice-from-salmonella-infections-as-effectively-as-does-the-natural-gut-microbiotaIn healthy organisms, this community provides an effective shield against infection by many pathogenic organisms, such as Clostridium difficile (which is responsible for antibiotic-associated diarrhea) and various Salmonella species.

Researchers led by LMU microbiologist Professor Bärbel Stecher, in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Vienna and the Technical University of Munich, now show that, in the mouse, a defined group of 15 bacterial species confers the same degree of protection against Salmonella infections as does the host’s natural microbiota. The work establishes a new model system for the investigation of the interaction between the gut microbiome and infectious pathogens, which could in turn provide new approaches to the treatment of gastrointestinal infections. The new findings appear in the journal Nature Microbiology.

The protective effect provided by the gut microbiota against infection by invasive pathogens is referred to as colonization resistance. Exposure to antibiotics can disrupt this mechanism because these drugs typically alter the composition of the bacterial population in the gastrointestinal tract. “However, the contribution made by individual bacterial species to colonization resistance remains unclear,” says Stecher, who is also member of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).

“In order to gain a better understanding of the functions of the gut microbiota in this context, we had already established in my laboratory a minimal consortium comprising 12 bacterial species which are representative for the gut microbiome of the mouse.” This set of species, which is referred to as Oligo-MM-12, can be introduced into germ-free mice and is stably maintained over several generations. However, while mice colonized by the Oligo-MM-12 species are more resistant to infection by Salmonella enterica than their germ-free relatives, they are not as well protected as mice with a normal microbiome.

pollan-microbiomeThe team then went on to develop a new strategy, called genome-guided microbiota design, to identify species required to confer the same measure of protection as the natural gut microbiome of the mouse.

“We compared DNA sequences from the 12 species represented in Oligo-MM-12 with homologous sequences derived from the total mouse microbiome, and were able to identify groups of genes that were missing from our set,” Stecher explains. Some of these genes turned out to be characteristic for so-called facultative anaerobes, i.e. bacterial species that grow best in the presence in oxygen, but are nevertheless capable of proliferating in its absence. Indeed, the genus Salmonella consists of facultative anaerobes, while almost all the species that make up the Oligo-MM-12 consortium are obligate anaerobes – for which oxygen is toxic.

“We therefore supplemented our original consortium with three facultatively anaerobic species that are found in the microbiota of healthy mice,” Stecher says, “and we were able to demonstrate experimentally that this combination confers the same level of colonization resistance against Salmonella as that observed in mice that have a natural microbiota.” Stecher and her colleagues believe that their new “mini-microbiota”, together with the use of genome-guided microbiota design, provides a powerful new tool for the identification of hitherto unknown functions mediated by natural microbiota. This opens a route to the identification of specific bacterial species that could ameliorate the effects of disease-dependent dysfunction of the gut microbiota.

Feed-to-farm-to-slaughter-to-267 sickened with Salmonella in Germany, 2013

One of the largest and longest Salmonella outbreaks in Germany within the last 10 years occurred in central Germany in 2013.

neuruppin-germany-butchers-slaughtered-in-processing-pigs-d2w996To identify vehicles of infection, we analysed surveillance data, conducted a case-control study and food traceback. We identified 267 cases infected with Salmonella Infantis with symptom onset between 16 April and 26 October 2013 in four neighbouring federal states.

Results of our study indicated that cases were more likely to have eaten raw minced pork from local butcher’s shops [odds ratio (OR) 2·5, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·1–5·8] and have taken gastric acid-reducing or -neutralizing medication (OR 3·8, 95% CI 1·3–13) than controls.

The outbreak was traced back to contaminated raw pork products found in different butcher’s shops supplied by one slaughterhouse, to pigs at one farm and to an animal feed producer. Characterization of isolates of human, food, animal, feed, and environmental origin by phage-typing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis confirmed the chain of infection.

Insufficient hygiene standards in the slaughterhouse were the most probable cause of the ongoing transmission. We recommend that persons taking gastric acid suppressants should refrain from consuming raw pork products. Improving and maintaining adequate hygiene standards and process controls during slaughter is important to prevent future outbreaks.

A prolonged outbreak of Salmonella Infantis associated with pork products in central Germany, April–October 2013

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 144 / Issue 07 / May 2016, pp 1429-1439

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10259962&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG

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

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=21336

Germans who wrongly fingered Spanish cucumbers ordered to pay

Many regulators see going public with information related to an outbreak as a no-win situation. As Paul Mead once said – ‘If you’re wrong, you went public too early; if you’re right, you went [public] too late.’

Best to err on the side of public health – and tell folks about the uncertainties in your data and decision-making.spain_ag_minister_cuc_may_11(2)

In 2011, at the height of an E. coli O104 outbreak which led to 4,075 illnesses (including 908 cases of HUS) and 50 deaths in 16 countries, epidemiological information was evolving. During the investigation, German authorities, based on a sample taken out of a trash bin, fingered Spanish cucumbers as the source. It turned out to be fenugreek sprouts.

According to ThinkSpain, a Spanish cucumber firm is being compensated for being wrongfully implicated.

A German court has upheld a Málaga-based vegetable cooperative’s claim for compensation after the E.coli scare was incorrectly linked to Spanish cucumbers.

Sales director for Frunet, Richard Söpenberg, says that although the co-op had sued for €2.3 million, the case was more about clearing its name than earning back the money it had lost through the unfair finger-pointing at its produce.

“The judge in Hamburg has recognised that we did nothing wrong, and we are very proud and happy about that – above and beyond the compensation awarded, what’s most important is the restitution of the company’s good name,” Söpenberg revealed.

The cooperative’s sales manager says he ‘trusts the case will serve as a learning curve’, since it highlights the extent of harm an ‘unfounded accusation’ can cause any firm.

cucumber.spainMEP-300x188“Pointing the finger at a company can destroy it completely in seconds, and this is something that could happen to any firm in the world,” Söpenberg warned.

Missing from the mis-fingered cucumber story is the food safety steps that Spanish growers/shippers/distributors take to ensure microbial food safety. An outbreak like this was an opportunity to brag – if procedures are in place and there’s data to back it up. Too bad it had to come out in court proceedings over four years later.

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.

Was it sprouts? Rare Salmonella in Switzerland and Germany over past decade

During the summer of 2013, an increase of Salmonella enterica ssp. enterica serovar Szentes isolates from human clinical cases was registered by the Swiss National Centre for enteropathogenic bacteria and Listeria.

sprout.santa.barf.xmasIn the course of the ensuing 9 months, 18 isolates originating from 13 patients and from one food sample were collected. Of the 13 human cases, 10 (77%) were female. The patients’ ages ranged from 27 to 83 years (median age 49 years). Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) performed with XbaI, and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) were used to type the strains. PFGE as well as MLST showed the strains as indistinguishable. The PFGE pattern and MLST sequence type (ST427) were identical to those of Salmonella enterica serovar Szentes isolated in previous years (2002–2013) from sporadic cases in Switzerland and Germany.

The increased isolation frequency continued for 6 months after the detection of Salmonella Szentes in sprouts. No common food exposure could be established. Due to lack of information on the potential food source, further investigations were not possible. The outbreak of this unusual serotype was detected because of its temporal clustering.

 Salmonella enterica serovar Szentes, a rare serotype causing a 9-month outbreak in 2013 and 2014 in Switzerland

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. Ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2015.1996.

Nüesch-Inderbinen Magdalena, Cernela Nicole, Althaus Denise, Hächler Herbert, and Stephan Roger

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2015.1996

It’s not organic or conventional it’s will it make you barf?

I’ve been drawn into these debates before, and concluded they are mindnumbing.

sprout.santa_.barf_.xmas_1-300x254Yes, organic probably causes a disproportionate number of food safety recalls, but it’s not the production method, it’s the producer.

Either they know about dangerous microorganisms and take steps to reduce them, or they don’t.

 The Western Producer says the “refreshingly candid comments of a University of Saskatchewan professor (Stuart Smyth) interviewed by WP reporter Dan Yates provoked lively discussion.

Except, if accurately quoted, they were as much bullshit as the good professor claims is at the root of organic outbreaks.

Smyth responded to one critic by stating, “In 2011, organic cucumbers containing a lethal level of E. coli were sold in Europe, resulting in over 4,000 cases of illness and 50 deaths. Colleagues of mine at the FAO reported that by the third day of the story, the powerful European organic industry had pressured the media into removing the word organic from all stories. Sadly, removing the word organic contributed to thousands of additional cases of illness and death, as European consumers had no idea it was the organic food that was killing them.

“I stand by my claim: organic food is the most dangerous and unsafe food on the market today. If you want to eat food that will kill you, eat organic.”

Yes, cucumbers were initially fingered as the source of an E. coli O104 outbreak that killed 53 and sickened 4,400 in Europe in 2011, but the source was ultimately determined to be fenugreek sprout seeks imported from Egypt.

If you’re going to cast stones, get it right.

German city of Hamburg introduces water-repellent paint to fight public urination

I went to Germany a few years ago, and after hours on the train, really had to pee.

352931-d4c575b2-c39d-11e4-bdbb-25549bb81a95But the public restrooms would only take German coins, and were particularly designed to avoid sliding under the door, so off I went to my destination.

When I got there, they all said, just pee on the wall, everyone else does.

The city of Hamburg has erected signs around the city reading “Don’t pee here. We pee back.” A public awareness campaign video shows CCTV footage of a stream of men on the way home from a drunken night out stopping to relieve themselves in the street. Then the video introduces the city’s secret weapon.

359733-d4806472-c39d-11e4-bdbb-25549bb81a95In the fight against the scourge of urinating drunks, the local St Pauli neighbourhood association has begun painting its walls with water-repellent paint, similar to the type used on ships.

The association told a number of outlets that when liquid hits the walls it rebounds with “almost the same force”. Handy graphics spell it out for anyone still confused.