‘Highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene’ 56 sickened in Norovirus outbreak at UK bar

Fifty-six people who fell ill after attending functions at a bar in Bridgend county had the norovirus, it has been confirmed.

Hi-Tide bar in PorthcawlPublic Health Wales said the Hi-Tide bar in Porthcawl remains open after the outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting.

The outbreak has now been declared over.

A bar spokesman said: “We are confident that we provided, and will continue to provide, the very highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene.”

“We would like to wish all those affected a full and speedy recovery,” the spokesman added.

Thank you for your service

Sorenne and I wore poppies to school today, as did Amy, after having a long chat about WW1 and what it meant.

poppy.remembrance.dayMy grandfather was too young to serve in WWI and too old for WWII, but he served in Wales, on local watch. My father was just a babe when Newport got bombed to hell in WWII and I still remember a pic of him in an astronaut’s helmet in a bomb shelter.

He was about 1-year-old.

On the way back from school, I had conversations with three different veterans, and thanked them for their service.

They were all headed to the local park, for a memorial service.

An Australian friend tells me, every little town and suburb in this country has parks and memorials like that, and it’s quite remarkable.

I agree, and have visited enough to know it’s true.

I’m sorta like Tony Soprano, who had a penchant for WWII documentaries, in that there’s an underlying feeing of inadequacy when compared to what our forebears did.

I’m grateful.

Sorenne is too.

Seek and ye shall find: Salmonella in UK raw milk cheese

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a statement to say that they have advised Barton Farm to stop selling raw drinking milk.

colbert.raw.milkTests carried out by the FSA and the local authority found samples containing levels of microorganisms that breach food safety regulations. The local authority North Devon District Council also found salmonella in a batch of cheese made with raw drinking milk by the company.

The affected batch of cheese has been withdrawn from sale and consumers alerted.

Barton Farm has issued the following notice on its website: “Due to more harassment from the Food Standards Agency, all sales of our raw drinking milk are currently suspended. All our own test results are clear. Online orders will be fulfilled once the licence has been renewed or a refund will be issued. We would like to thank everyone for their patience while we undergo yet another investigation. Someone definitely doesn’t want us to sell our raw milk.”

In response, the FSA has said that it rejects Barton Farm Dairy’s claim that the action is harassment.

40 sick in Norovirus outbreak at Brisbane camp

Looks like I picked the wrong week to send the kid to camp (I didn’t).

airplane.sniffing.glueQueensland health is trying to identify the cause of a suspected norovirus outbreak.

A highly contagious stomach bug is suspected to have hit about 40 primary school pupils after a Year 4 camp at the weekend.

In an email to parents yesterday, Grovely’s St William’s School principal Anthony Lucey said one family had a confirmed diagnosis of norovirus.

Brisbane Catholic Education communications manager John Phelan said about 40 children had been affected since symptoms were first reported last weekend after children returned from Camp Warrawee at Joyner.

“Once students began reporting as ill, we immediately contacted both the camp and Queensland Heath,” Mr Phelan said.

Losing my religion.

NZ hospital food safety manager rightly sacked

A food safety manager in an Auckland hospital who was fired after unsafe work practices was not unjustifiably dismissed as she claims.

simpsons.lunch.lady.09Former food service manager at North Shore Hospital Padmini Singh was employed by Compass Group from August 2009 until January 2015.

Her employment ended after she was found to have been lacking in a number of areas in food safety and a decision on a demotion for her couldn’t be reached.

Compass Group had already been warned about food safety prior to audits of Singh’s work coming up short.

An outbreak of norovirus at North Shore Hospital in 2012 was found to have most likely originated in the hospital kitchen – though this was never confirmed nor linked to Singh.

During the outbreak there were 59 cases of gastroenteritis with each patient having had the same food.

The Ministry for Primary Industries conducted an investigation and there were indications the culprit may have been a chicken and barley soup served at lunch.

Ultimately, the source of the norovirus was not determined and MPI issued a formal warning to Compass Group that it was at risk of legal action.

Operations manager Raymond Hall said this warning was related to hand hygiene practices, training and food safety documentation.


Ice fingered but epi can be ‘squishy’ 61 sickened by Norovirus at journalists’ conference

Two months after a norovirus outbreak at Bali Hai restaurant, county health officials have fingered ice as the foodborne source that sickened at least 61 people — including three in a wedding party.

norovirus-2“We’re certain it had something to do with the ice” served at the annual awards banquet of the local Society of Professional Journalists, said county spokesman Michael Workman. “We’re not certain how it got in the ice.”

In its final report to the San Diego SPJ, the county said 84 of the 172 people at the July 29 banquet returned surveys on what they ate and other issues. Fifty were sickened by norovirus type GI.1. (Eight others also reported getting ill.)

Three diners elsewhere in Bali Hai also got GI.1 — part of a wedding party of 140.

“We have to [classify it as] food poisoning,” Workman said, rather than a sick person spreading the gastrointestinal disease.

A Sept. 4 report said, “We did not link any food service workers with the illness,” but Workman on Tuesday told Times of San Diego that “we can’t say yes or no” to whether an employee caused the outbreak.

Workman stressed that Bali Hai remains “rated for high” for hygiene. “Everyone involved — from the people who attended [the banquet] and from the restaurant … did the right thing.”

County spokesman Workman saluted Bali Hai management.

“The restaurant had a great hygiene procedure, really good,” he said. “They are on the up-and-up on what they do and what they teach their employees. The employees have been there a long time. So they get it.”

But Workman acknowleged the county’s findings can be “squishy” and “it’s not an exact science.”

But: “We’re confident it’s been taken care of.”

From the duh files: Oysters may serve as link in transmission of Norovirus

Oysters appear to be an important link in the transmission of norovirus among humans, according to new research from China.

SUN0705N-Oyster7In the current study, published last month in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, researchers analyzed the genetic sequences of 1,077 samples of noroviruses found in oysters. Some sequences had been stockpiled in genetic databases since 1983.

The scientists found that 80 percent of the known human noroviruses matched those found in oysters. The majority of the matches were in oysters from coastal waters, more likely to be contaminated with human sewage.

Noroviruses mutate very quickly, as do influenza viruses, and big outbreaks usually begin after a new strain emerges. There was a “convergence” between new strains circulating in oysters and those circulating in humans, the researchers also found.

Yongjie Wang, a food science specialist at Shanghai Ocean University and lead author of the study, concluded that oysters were an important reservoir for human noroviruses — a place where they can hide between outbreaks and mutate. They also can be transmitted back to humans, presumably when oysters are eaten raw.

98 sickened: Norovirus confirmed at Calif. Chipotle

An investigation by the Ventura County Environmental Health Division (EHD) revealed that during the week of August 18, 2015, about 80 restaurant customers and 18 restaurant employees reported symptoms characteristic of a gastrointestinal illness.

norovirus-2The restaurant, in conformance with its own corporate policy, voluntarily closed the facility, threw out all remaining food products, cleaned and disinfected the facility including all food contact surfaces, and excluded all employees with symptoms from working in the restaurant. EHD staff conducted an inspection the following day to confirm that the food had been removed, the restaurant was adequately disinfected, and the 18 employees had been excluded from work.

As part of the investigation the EHD and Public Health staff interviewed affected customers and restaurant staff to determine when the illness began and what had been eaten. The EHD also ordered that all affected restaurant employees submit specimens for laboratory analysis in an attempt to determine the cause of the illnesses. As of Sep. 3, 2015, 7-out-of-18 samples tested positive for Norovirus. The employees with positive test results will continue to be excluded from the restaurant until subsequent laboratory analysis results are negative for the virus and the Public Health Division has cleared them to return to work. There have been no further reports of illness since the initial reports two weeks ago.

Microbiologists: Avoid raw oysters

Oysters not only transmit human norovirus; they also serve as a major reservoir for these pathogens, according to research published August 28 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. “

steamed.oystersMore than 80 percent of human norovirus genotypes were detected in oyster samples or oyster-related outbreaks,” said corresponding author Yongjie Wang, PhD.

“The results highlight oysters’ important role in the persistence of norovirus in the environment, and its transmission to humans, and they demonstrate the need for surveillance of human norovirus in oyster samples,” said Wang, who is Professor in the College of Food Science and Technology, Shanghai Ocean University, Shanghai, China.

In the study, the investigators downloaded all oyster-related norovirus sequences deposited during 1983-2014 into the National Center for Biotechnology’s GenBank database, and into the Noronet outbreak database. They conducted genotyping and phylogenic analyses, and mapped the norovirus’s genetic diversity and geographic distribution over time.

In earlier research, the investigators found that 90 percent of human norovirus sequences in China came from coastal regions. The current research showed that the same is true all over the world, except in tropical regions, from which sequences are absent.

Oysters’s status as reservoirs and vectors for human norovirus transmission is likely abetted by their presence in coastal waters, which are frequently contaminated by human waste, said Wang. Previous research suggests that noroviruses can persist for weeks in oyster tissues, and commercial depuration fails to expunge them.

Norovirus causes stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. It is extremely contagious, and infects more than 6 percent of the US population, annually, resulting in around 20 million cases, including 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even touching a contaminated surface can result in infection.

Wang advised that people who eat oysters and other shellfish should eat them fully cooked, and never raw. He also urged development of a reliable method for detecting noroviruses in oysters, and a worldwide oyster-related norovirus outbreak surveillance network.

Lemon juice and human norovirus

Brisbane is equidistant from the equator as Sarasota, Florida, and we have fabulous citrus.

lemon.lime.bittersLemon-lime-and-bitters has become my go-to drink, along with the bubbly water provided by our soda stream.

But will lemon juice reduce my risk of contracting Norovirus?


Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center say that lemon juice could be a potentially safe and practical disinfectant against Norovirus.

I wouldn’t rely on it.

Human noroviruses does not grow in cell culture, so they tested the effects of increasing concentrations of citric buffer on the so called norovirus virus-like particles, which have the same surface characteristics as real viruses. Dr Grant Hansman, head of CHS junior research group at the German Cancer Research Center noroviruses and the University of Heidelberg and his staff show that the virus particles change their shape after citrate binding. X-ray crystal structures revealed that the citrate – from lemon juice or citrate disinfectants – precisely interacts at the binding pocket on the particle that is involved in attaching to host ligands – the so-called histo-blood group antigens.

These new results may explain why citrate reduces the infectivity of noroviruses. “Maybe a few drops of lemon juice on contaminated food or surfaces may prevent the transmission of these viruses,” speculates Hansman. With his staff, he now plans to investigate if citric acid could reduce symptoms in those already infected with noroviruses.

That’s a lot of maybes.

Anna D. Koromyslova, Peter White, and Grant S. Hansman: Citrate alters norovirus particle morphology. Virology 2015, DOI: 10.1016/j.virol.2015.07.009