Stop handling food: 18 with typhoid in New Zealand

The number of people in Auckland confirmed to have contracted typhoid remains at 18; with one probable case and two others still under investigation.

The Auckland Regional Public Health said this afternoon that of those cases, three people remained in hospitals around the city.

All patients – including children – are connected to the Mt Albert Samoan Assembly of God church congregation which holds its Sunday services at Wesley Primary School in Mt Roskill.

“More cases may come to light as a result of the work ARPHS is doing to trace those who have been in contact with people confirmed as having typhoid,” a statement said.

“Typhoid has a typical incubation period of eight to 14 days, but incubation can be up to 80 days.

This means cases may emerge over the course of several weeks.”

Health officials are urging anyone who has close contacts to those affected by the disease to take extra precautions.

“Public health services have asked close contacts of typhoid patients who are in settings where there is an increased risk of transmission, such as food handlers, to stand down until they’re cleared.”

Chlorine works, focus on public health: NZ campy-in-water inquiry wraps up with 16 draft recommendations

I served on one of those water inquires, back in Canada after the 2000 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that killed seven and sickened 2,300 residents in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada, a town of about 5,000.

Walkerton Water Tower

Walkerton Water Tower

It was decent work, but what surprised me most was the actions taken by various social actors in the aftermath of the outbreak: protect themselves, public health be damned.

The number of higher-ups who wanted to meet with me to express why they did what they did, in a private chat, had absolutely no influence on my conclusions, and was sorta repulsive.

Maybe I was naïve.

Still am (I’m the full professor from Kansas State University who got fired for bad attendance with  — nothing, except my family, and that makes a good Hollywood tale).

In August, 2016, about 5,530 or 39 per cent of Havelock North, New Zealand’s population reported gastroenteritis from Camplylobacter in the water supply, 1,072 of those confirmed cases.

Nicki Harper of the New Zealand Herald reports a government inquiry into contamination of a Hawke’s Bay water supply has made 16 draft recommendations.

The inquiry into the Hastings District Council’s request to re-activate a Brookvale Road bore to augment Havelock North’s peak summer water supply retired today with a set of draft recommendations.

Before wrapping up proceedings, inquiry panel chair Lyn Stevens QC thanked the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) and Hastings District Council (HDC) for the efforts they made that resulted in the regional council dropping its prosecution of the Hastings council.

This agreement came after the first day of hearings on Monday, when pressure was applied by the panel to re-consider the charges.

After extensive questioning on Monday, the regional council agreed to withdraw the charges relating to breaches of the Hastings District Council’s resource consent conditions for taking water from Brookvale bores 1 and 2 – opting to instead consider issuing infringement notices.

Mr Stevens said, “The panel has noted a level of defensiveness in some of the evidence filed to date.

“I’m not being critical of any organisation or witness but wish to emphasise the overriding interest with this inquiry is the public interest, while we look to fulfil the terms of reference to determine the possible causes of contamination.”

A set of 16 draft recommendations were issued and Mr Stevens said the joint working group would be an important conduit to implement them.

The aim was to have the bore re-opened at the end of January before Havelock North water use reached peak demand in February.

Among the recommendations was a directive that the working group – comprising representation from HDC, HBRC, the DHB and drinking water assessors – meet regularly and share information of any potential drinking water safety risk.

For at least 12 months from December 12, the bore would receive cartridge filtration, UV and chlorine treatment, and a regime of regular montioring be implemented.

It was also recommended that the HDC draft an Emergency Response Plan before Bore 3 was brought on line.

Pinto defense: Consumer group says more than half of NZ chickens have campy

Meeting government standards is about the worst thing any group can say when it comes to trust.

chickenAlmost all food purchases are an act of faith-based food safety.

The Pinto, an American car that had a tendency to explode when hit from behind, also met all government standards.

More than half the supermarket chickens in a Consumer NZ study carried Campylobacter, but the poultry association says the test was much stricter than official requirements.

The study of 40 chickens found 65 per cent (26 chickens) tested positive for Campylobacter, Consumer NZ said.

Fourty chickens don’t mean statistical shit, especially if they were from the same grower.

But already, the industry and the government are defending NZ poultry, without a lot of data.

More posturing.

Like blowing up real good.

Poultry Industry Association director Michael Brooks said chicken only accounted for 40 per cent of New Zealand’s campylobacter cases.

Some might consider that a lot.

Radio New Zealand reported that Brooks said, “The important thing is to remember that cooking kills campylobacter, and that it’s important to have good hygiene practices when handling a raw product. Safe storage practices and cooking it thoroughly will prevent the risk of illness.”

It’s about lowering loads. All that Campy into a kitchen means cross-contamination is rife.

In a statement, MPI director of systems audit, assurance and monitoring Allan Kinsella said the ministry had considered a retail testing programme but decided it was unnecessary.

Mandatory testing for broiler chicken carcasses was introduced in 2006, she said, and had been so successful it had led to a more than 50 percent reduction in foodborne campylobacter cases between 2007 and 2015.

The posturing on either side is a scam.

When will someone step forward and credibly say, in NZ, we should have fewer people barfing?

‘I hear that lonesome whistle, hang my head and cry’ What New Zealand inmates will eat on Dec. 25

What I remember from prison 35 years ago was, it was lonely.

There were fights, dramas, scandals, but that was nothing to the continual loneliness.

johnny_cash_at_folsom_prisonAccording to the New Zealand Heraldthere will be no trimmings, treats or trifle for the 10,000-odd prisoners behind bars this Christmas.

The Department of Corrections has today released details of the Christmas Day menu for the inmates at its 18 prisons across the country.

Inmates will man the kitchens on the day, preparing 10,000 meals of roast chicken, gravy, roast potatoes, carrots, green peas, two slices of bread and apple pie with custard.

All prison meals are designed and prepared in line with nutrition guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Health.

The main Christmas meal will be provided at lunchtime, with sandwiches given in the evening, Corrections said today.

As with any other day, vegetarian and other special dietary requirements will also be catered for.

Be the bug, easy to figure out: Charges laid over NZ gastro outbreak

In August, 2016, 5,200 people were sickened with Campylobactor  after the Havelock North, NZ, water supply was contaminated.

vomit-dontLast week, the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s public health unit followed up reports of a gastro illness circulating in the community.

On Nov. 18, 2016 Hawke’s Bay Regional Council laid charges against a party for alleged offences uncovered in the course of its investigation into the contamination of Havelock North drinking water.

The charges were laid after the council investigated the source of the contamination that resulted in more than 5000 people getting sick, and the condition of water supply bores in the area.

The council said its investigations had found evidence of a breach of the maintenance conditions of the party’s resource consent. If a breach was proved, the resource consent no longer permitted the taking of water.

The council has commenced a prosecution against the party, alleging the unlawful taking of water from the aquifer arising from the alleged failure to meet well head maintenance conditions.

Council chief executive Andrew Newman said the drinking water contamination has had a devastating effect on the Havelock North community with wider regional impacts and the council was “very keen to see the cause of the contamination identified and to ensure it does not happen again”.  

He said his council had more than 15 people working on its investigations.

These included council scientists, and Environmental Science Research (ESR) with expertise in the environment, land use, water and climate, as well as dye tracing experts.

He said their investigations had included surface and groundwater quality, the bore infrastructure, water pathways in the local environment and livestock in nearby paddocks.

Toddler contracts serious E. coli infection on NZ family farm

Eight months on from a rescue helicopter dash to Starship children’s hospital, two-year-old Grace Dheda is enjoying being back on her family’s farm – even though it nearly killed her.

grace-dhedaIn March, Grace and her family were savouring rural life in Wellsford.

Mum Megan and Dad Kirin were planning their up-coming wedding. 

That all came to a sudden halt when their daughter began to show signs of illness.

After two days of vomiting and diarrhea, a doctor diagnosed a tummy bug.

Grace was sent home and prescribed plenty of fluids, Megan says.

At home Grace played on the deck like her normal self, but collapsed at bedtime.

Grace was rushed back to the doctors.

“They put her on oxygen straight away. She’d been unconscious for about 45 minutes and they were starting to worry about potential brain damage.”

Given the severity of the situation and the closest ambulance an hour away, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called.

Grace and Megan were ferried to a helipad and arrived to see the chopper landing.

“It was such a relief to see the helicopter,” Megan says.

Megan recalls, “At first nobody knew what was wrong with her and why she was having these seizures. It wasn’t until a few days before we left the hospital that we found out she had contracted E. coli and HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome).”

HUS is a severe complication of the E. coli infection that can lead to kidney failure.

At first it was thought that Grace had contracted the bacterial infection through the water supply, however this was later tested and found to be normal.

It is now believed that she contracted it via the farm animals.

Megan says, “We’ve got cows here on the farm and I don’t like Grace going anywhere near them. The doctor told me I have ‘parental anxiety.’ ‘I love the farm life, but I’m a bit paranoid now and have about 20 bottles of sanitiser around the place.”

The Helicopter Trust is actively fundraising at present in order to purchase three new ventilators for use on their helicopters and in their Rapid Response Vehicle.

5530 sick 39% of residents: Health board discloses full extent of Campy in NZ water outbreak

Forty-five people, mostly over 70 were admitted to hospital with campylobacter a Hawke’s Bay District Health Board update reveals.

poop-water-nz-nov-16The DHB has conducted four surveys since the event in August, the latest on September 27 and 28, the results of which they collated with the previous findings.

The surveys were conducted by telephone and the latest figures brought the estimated total number of residents affected by gastroenteritis to 5530 or 39 per cent of Havelock North’s population, 1072 of those confirmed cases.

Of those hospitalised, as of October 10, 27 were aged over 70, followed by four in the 60-69 year age group, four in the 40-49 age group and three in the 50-59 age group.

Four people under the age of 20 also ended up in hospital.

The total number of people who had developed the rare complication from campylobacter, Guillan Barre Syndrome, was reported to be three people. As the incubation time was up to four weeks, it was considered that any new cases now would not be linked to the original outbreak.

Of the estimated 5530 residents who were affected, 32 per cent had a recurrence of the bug, and as of September 28 four people were experiencing ongoing symptoms.

At the time an estimated 78 per cent of people who had symptoms took time off work or school.

NZ food safety laws stopping early childcare centres from giving kids food, charges Council

Scientists, and other mere mortals, get lost in their public voice when they speak about things they have no clue about.

hockey-parentsI agree with the active citizen, participatory democracy, but there are people who take some (rudimentary) form of training, like food servers and hockey coaches, which is much more than the critics ever do, and the posers should just shut the fuck up.

So when Early Childhood Council boss Peter Reynolds says, new rules have made early childhood education centres less safe because most food poisoning and allergic reactions in ECEs are as a result of food prepared at home, I gotta say, you got a source for that?

New food safety laws are forcing childcare centres to stop providing food for kids, or increase fees, the Early Childhood Council says.

Centres were now finding themselves facing bills into the thousands of dollars in inspections and compliance fees, which is likely to be passed onto parents,

The Food Act 2014 came into force in March, and was designed to ensure all food sold in New Zealand is safe.

Many centres have “had enough”, he said, and were now opting out of providing food.

Good choice. You’re not a certified kitchen, and stop feeding kids. Or this NSFV.

Blessed are the cheese-makers: Storm parliament in NZ

A small-scale cheese maker is hauling her raw milk cheese to Parliament.

florida-swampKatikati’s Mount Eliza Cheese owner Jill Whalley says New Zealand artisan producers of raw milk cheese find high compliance costs crippling – about $60 a kilo.

That makes European products cheaper to import and it’s not fair, she says.

The Food and Safety Reform Bill is currently under consideration by a select committee.

“We want a level playing field,” says Whalley.

She believes it’s prohibitive to a thriving artisan cheese industry.

“If they took the same approach to road safety as they do to food safety, we would all have to drive at three miles per hour, with a person in front waving a red flag.”

Whalley argues pastuerisation destroys the milk’s good bacteria which protects the cheese from harmful bacteria.

Small cheese makers have greater control over hygiene and other variables and can prevent it from happening, Whalley says.

I also have some land in Florida you may want buy.

Chlorine is your friend, but chlorinating water in Christchurch’s northwest is off the table

As the third case of Guillain-Barre Syndrome has been linked to the Campylobacter contamination of Havelock North’s water supply, New Zealand, chlorinating water in Christchurch’s northwest is off the table, for now.

eight_col_1m1a9865The Christchurch City Council went against its own staff advice and unanimously decided on Thursday not to consider temporarily chlorinating the water from eight shallow wells that feed into three pump stations, serving about 20,000 residents.

The council instead decided to accelerate a $16 million programme to replace 22 shallow bores, supplying 80,000 northwest households.

The work was originally due to be finished by June 30, 2018, but most of the wells would now be decommissioned by March 2017. Fourteen of the most vulnerable shallow wells have already either been decommissioned or shut down.

Accelerating the work would cost an additional $480,000.

The council would also embark on a programme to raise community awareness of the risks of drinking untreated water from the shallow bores.

Canterbury’s medical officer of health, Alistair Humphrey, last month asked the council to explain why its continued use of the shallow wells did not present “an untenable risk”. Humphrey’s request was prompted by a gastro outbreak caused by campylobacter in the water supplying the town of Havelock North in Hawke’s Bay.

Staff will now talk to Humphrey to see if he was satisfied with the council’s response, without chlorinating the water. They will report back to the council in November.

Water from the bores was tested for E.coli daily, but it took at least 24 hours to get the results, so there was always a 24-hour period where contamination could go undetected, council three waters and waste boss John Mackie said.

He said the council complied with the water standards, but his professional advice to the council was to chlorinate the water, which would eliminate the risk.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel asked Mackie if the risk from the shallow bores had changed in the last few years. He said no.

She said it was only the perception of risk that had been heightened since the Havelock North contamination.