Going public real time: Hepatitis A in my daughter’s Brisbane school, this time it’s personal

At 4:23 p.m. AET on Friday, March 3, 8-year-old Sorenne’s school issued a notice to some parents that said:

“Hepatitis A has been reported at school. Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. Anyone can be infected with hepatitis A if they come into direct contact with food, drunks, or objects contaminated by faeces of an infected person.”

I’m not sure they meant drunks, but that’s what it said.

Amy got the e-mail.

I got notification of the e-mail at 5:30 p.m. AET

I immediately called the school.

No answer.

I e-mailed all the school contacts to say, “Hepatitis A is a serious disease for those who are unvaccinated. It passes fecal-oral, and can be acquired by drinks with straws, but usually not drunks (as your note says).”

Standard procedure in the U.S is vaccination clinics for anyone who has the potential to be exposed, but is only useful if done within a few days.:

So then I called Queensland Health, the state health agency.

Being after 5 p.m. on a Friday, there wasn’t no one around, except for a nice man who said he would investigate.

I e-mailed my questions:

“What is standard vaccination clinic procedure in the event of a positive case?

“What is the vaccination policy for hep A in Australia? Queensland?

“What was the timeline for detection and public notification?”

He said he would do the best he could and call me back.

He didn’t.

This is apparently normal.

On Feb. 23, 2017, I e-mailed media relations at Queensland Health to ask, “Can Queensland Health confirm or deny there was an outbreak of Salmonella in Sunnybank (Brisbane) around the Chinese New Year possibly involving deep-fried ice cream?
“thank you”

No answer.

Going public is about protecting people from public health threats.

Brisbane sucks at it.
Going public: Early disclosure of food risks for the benefit of public health

NEHA, Volume 79.7, Pages 8-14

Benjamin Chapman, Maria Sol Erdozaim, Douglas Powell

http://www.neha.org/node/58904

Often during an outbreak of foodborne illness, there are health officials who have data indicating that there is a risk prior to notifying the public. During the lag period between the first public health signal and some release of public information, there are decision makers who are weighing evidence with the impacts of going public. Multiple agencies and analysts have lamented that there is not a common playbook or decision tree for how public health agencies determine what information to release and when. Regularly, health authorities suggest that how and when public information is released is evaluated on a case-by-case basis without sharing the steps and criteria used to make decisions. Information provision on its own is not enough. Risk communication, to be effective and grounded in behavior theory, should provide control measure options for risk management decisions. There is no indication in the literature that consumers benefit from paternalistic protection decisions to guard against information overload. A review of the risk communication literature related to outbreaks, as well as case studies of actual incidents, are explored and a blueprint for health authorities to follow is provided.

ICAPP voluntarily recalls certain lots of frozen strawberries

The International Company for Agricultural Production & Processing (ICAPP) is voluntarily recalling certain lots of its frozen strawberries out of an abundance of caution in response to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation of an outbreak of Hepatitis A.

frozen-strawberryThe recalled products were all distributed for sale to and use in food service establishments nationwide — not for use in food products offered for retail sale to consumers. Nonetheless, ICAPP is issuing this news release publicly to help mitigate any possible risk to the public health and to fully ensure that all recalled products are recovered. Although none of ICAPP’s own testing through an established surveillance program or through third party testing of retained samples has identified the presence of Hepatitis A in any of its products, ICAPP has decided to recall all frozen strawberries that it has imported into the United States since January 1, 2016 out of an abundance of caution.

No other ICAPP products, frozen or fresh, are covered by this voluntary recall.

ICAPP is conducting this voluntary recall after learning that frozen strawberries that it distributed may be linked to a recent Hepatitis A outbreak in the United States. ICAPP has been engaged with FDA in its investigation of this outbreak and is taking this action in consultation with FDA because Hepatitis A virus was detected in four lots of frozen strawberries that were exported to the U.S. by ICAPP. ICAPP is working closely with all of the U.S. distributors of this product to ensure that this recall is effective.

ICAPP is fully committed to producing safe and high quality products; consumer safety is its top priority. ICAPP is conducting a comprehensive review of all of its operations and its suppliers to ensure that the food it produces is safe. ICAPP continues to work closely with federal and state authorities and is conducting this recall in cooperation with FDA.

For questions or more information, consumers may contact ICAPP by email at customerservice@icapp.com.eg or by phone, between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Cairo local time, at +201-541-1624.

Whole Foods still sucks at food safety: Hep A link in Detroit (vaccines work)

A bromate at the daddy crowd at school pickup yesterday sheepishly admitted that until two years ago, he thought the band Queen was from the U.S.

whole-foodsI asked him, where were the Beatles from?

Liverpool, UK.

Rolling Stones?

Detroit, Michigan, Rock City USA (he was joking).

Regardless of where you’re from, Whole Foods still sucks at food safety.

The Detroit Health Department is investigating two cases of Hepatitis A in connection with the prepared foods section at the Whole Foods Market at 115 Mack Avenue in Detroit, officials said.

One case was diagnosed in an employee at the store who handles and prepared food at the store.

The second case was diagnosed in a Detroit resident who ate at the prepared foods section of the store.

It’s unclear how either case was contracted, officials said. It’s possible the second case might have been contracted from the food handler, health officials said.

The Detroit Health Department recommends anyone who ate prepared foods from the Whole Foods in Detroit between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12 to speak with a doctor.

“While it remains unclear exactly how either of these individuals contracted Hepatitis A, and we know that Whole Foods Market Detroit has a comprehensive food safety protocol, we want to do our best to protect our residents and those of surrounding communities who may have been exposed. Whole Foods has been nothing but cooperative throughout this process,” said Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer at the Detroit Health Department.

(Canada should also apologize for Rush).

Get vaccinated for hep A

Herbal plants have long been used as traditional medicines to treat diseases caused by microbial pathogens. The hepatitis A virus (HAV) causes acute liver infection through the fecal–oral route. Although the antimicrobial activities of herbal extracts against bacterial and some viral pathogens have been extensively studied, their antiviral properties against HAV have not been investigated thus far.  This study was designed to investigate the inhibitory effect of 16 herbal extracts against HAV.

hep-aSignificant inhibition of HAV was observed only when HAV was co-treated with extracts. Ten out of the 16 herbal extracts demonstrated significant virucidal activity against HAV. Alnus japonica extract at a concentration of 50 μg/mL reduced HAV titer by 3.43 ± 0.24 logs. Artemisia annua, Allium sativum, Allium fistulosum, and Agrimonia pilosa extracts showed 2.33 ± 0.43, 2.10 ± 0.41, 2.07 ± 0.60, and 2.03 ± 0.26-log reductions, respectively. Pleuropterus multiflorus, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Coriandrum sativum, Ginkgo biloba, and Torilis japonica extracts reduced HAV titer by 1.02 ± 0.21 to 1.90 ± 0.33 logs. Among the 10 herbal extracts, Alnus japonica extract was the most potent in inhibiting HAV without exhibiting cytotoxicity.

Antiviral activity of herbal extracts against the hepatitis A virus

Food Control, Volume 72, Part A, February 2017, Pages 9-13, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2016.07.028

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713516303905

Russia, UAE ban Egyptian produce, Saudi lab say frozen berries safe

Rosselkhoznadzor, the state agricultural safety agency, said on Friday that imports of Egyptian plant products will be banned from next Thursday until Egypt’s authorities take steps to ensure their safety.

jeddah_marriott_no_women_signThe move comes after Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, changed its import regulations to ban any ergot fungus in imported wheat.

It had previously accepted 0.05% of it in imported wheat, a level considered harmless.

The new policy hurt Russia, which is one of the major suppliers of wheat to Egypt.

In the past, Russia often slapped bans on agricultural imports amid political or economic disputes with other nations, citing sanitary reasons.

Meanwhile, the UAE has tightened controls on imports of frozen strawberries from Egypt that may be linked to a hepatitis A outbreak in the U.S. that sickened 119 people

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment on Saturday said it had instructed food control authorities in each of the seven emirates “to tighten control procedures on frozen strawberries imported from Egypt in order to avoid the entry of any contaminated products that pose a risk to the consumer in the country”.

Yesterday, a Saudi laboratory following thorough tests has confirmed that Egyptian frozen strawberries in the market are safe for consumption.

The test negates all the rumours circulating on social media platforms regarding Egyptian frozen strawberry products and their link to the Hepatitis A outbreak reported recently across eight US states.

A day earlier, an official report posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website does not conform to what has been circulated on social media platforms regarding Egyptian frozen strawberries.

The ministry urged the public to refrain from posting or circulating any news on social media platforms without contacting the concerned authorities to verify and validate the credibility of that information before posting.

Yes, that’s exactly how the world works. Some countries also value women as equal citizens, who can drive and play hockey.

And other countries value data. The Saudis offer nothing but an authoritarian decree.

Assholes.

Hepatitis A in scallops

As the number of hepatitis A cases in Hawaii nears 300, how do people prepare scallops?

scallop-lunch-mar-12The hep A seems to have originated in frozen scallops from the Philippines.

But if you follow TV food porn chefs, scallops are cooked when they can bounce off the floor.

No.

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and make sure they reach 145F (which may not be enough to kill hep A; some sources recommend an internal temperature of 195F).

Think I’ll go down to the fish market later today and grill some scallops in garlic-lime butter.

And vaccines work.

89 now sick with hep A: What kind of trendy smoothie place gets their frozen strawberries from Egypt?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that several states, CDC, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are continuing to investigate a multistate outbreak of foodborne hepatitis A. Information available at this time does not indicate an ongoing risk of acquiring hepatitis A virus infection at Tropical Smoothie Café’s, as the contaminated food product has been removed as of August 8. Symptoms of hepatitis A virus infection can take up to 50 days to appear. As a result, CDC continues to identify cases of hepatitis A related to the initial contaminated product.

tropical-smoothie-cafe89 people with hepatitis A have been reported from seven states: Maryland (10), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (70), West Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (1).

39 ill people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicate frozen strawberries imported from Egypt are the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, nearly all ill people interviewed reported drinking smoothies containing strawberries at Tropical Smoothie Café locations prior to August 8 in a limited geographical area, including Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

On August 8, 2016, Tropical Smoothie Café reported that they removed the Egyptian frozen strawberries from their restaurants in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia and switched to another supplier. Out of an abundance of caution, Tropical Smoothie Café has since switched to another supplier for all restaurants nationwide.

If you think you’ve gotten sick from drinking a smoothie containing frozen strawberries from a Tropical Smoothie Café prior to August 8, contact your doctor.

Food handlers should contact their doctors and stay home if they are sick with hepatitis A.

 “To those who have become ill after eating at one of our cafes, we are deeply sorry,” Tropical Smoothie Cafe said in a statement. “We hope you recover quickly and completely.”

The Food and Drug Administration said in a statement that it would increase surveillance of imported strawberries.

 

Hepatitis A: Get vaccinated cause you never know when you’ll eat shit

Frozen berries from Egypt, frozen scallops from the Philippines, raw sewage in Detroit, one never really knows when they are going to injest human shit.

hep.aThe City of Detroit is offering preventative vaccinations after two people were diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

Health officials say the two people both came in contact with raw sewage that backed up into a basement.

The Detroit Health Department recommends that anyone who may have come in contact with sewage seek a preventative vaccination.

Contact your primary care physician or go to one of Detroit’s Health Department clinics between Friday August 26 and Friday, September 2. 

Egypt investigates claims of hepatitis-A in strawberry exports

With 10 hepatitis A cases linked to frozen strawberries used by Tropical Smoothie Café in Virginia, and health officials saying the hep A strain has been associated with past outbreaks due to frozen strawberries from Egypt, the Egyptians are now investigating.

strawberry.harvest.egypeEgypt Independent cites Agriculture Ministry spokesman Edi Hawash as saying the U.S. has not officially informed Egypt of the claims, but the claims are being investigated anyway.

Agriculture Minister Essam Fayed has formed a committee, headed by the chairman of the Union of Egyptian Exporters, to investigate the issue, Hawash added.

He said that recent tests conducted on random samples of exported strawberries have shown no cases of the virus.

Hussein al-Hinnawi, the president of the Union of Producers and Exporters of Horticultural Crops, said he doubts that the reported hepatitis-A infections were caused by frozen Egyptian strawberries.

He said Egyptian strawberries are scrutinized at competent laboratories prior to export. Moreover, exporters have full awareness of good practice through the stages of production, transfer and export, Hinnawi said.

Egypt ranks first among Arab countries in the production and export of strawberries, exporting about 40,000,000 tons of fresh and frozen strawberries to 30 countries in Europe, America, Southeast Asia and the Gulf states, according to Al-Ahram.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe voluntarily withdrew all of the strawberries sourced from Egypt and found an alternate supply.

208 sick: Hawaii Hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen raw scallops from Philippines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A illnesses linked to raw scallops.

scallops.hep.aThe FDA and CDC are supporting the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) in an investigation of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infections linked to scallops supplied by Sea Port Products Corp. On August 17, 2016, Hawaii Department of Health reported that 206 people have been confirmed to have become ill with hepatitis A in that state.

On August 17, 2016, the FDA, Hawaii DOH, CDC and state partners informed Sea Port Products Corp that epidemiological, laboratory and traceback information indicates their scallops are the likely source of illnesses.

On August 18, 2016, Sea Port Products Corp initiated a voluntary recall of frozen Bay Scallops produced on November 23, 2015 and 24, 2015. The products were distributed to California, Hawaii, and Nevada. The FDA is working with the recalling firm to ensure their recall is effective and that recalled product is removed from the market.

Restaurants and other retailers should not sell or serve the recalled Bay Scallops. The recalled products were not sold directly to consumers. FDA advises consumers not to eat the recalled Bay Scallops. Consumers should ask the restaurant or retailer where their scallops came from to make sure they do not eat recalled Bay Scallops from Sea Port Products Corp.

The FDA’s traceback investigation involved working with Hawaii DOH to trace the path of food eaten by those made ill back to a common source. The traceback investigation determined that Sea Port Products Corp imported the scallops that were later supplied to certain Genki Sushi locations in Hawaii, where ill people reported eating.

On August 17, 2016, FDA laboratory analysis of two scallop samples, which were collected on August 11, 2016, were confirmed positive for hepatitis A. These samples were imported by Sea Port Products Corp. 

The scallops are produced by De Oro Resources Inc., in Suba Basbas, Philippines, and imported by Sea Port Products Corp. in Washington state. Health authorities closed Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai late Monday because the scallops had been served there.