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?

Maybe.

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

Heston-norvirus-isn’t-my-fault Blumenthal reopens his Fat Duck restaurant

The Daily Mail delivers what those in the biz call a BJ-piece in a fawning portrait of Heston Blumenthal, whose new menu will take diners on a ‘story-telling’ journey aimed at capturing childhood feelings of adventure when the new menu at his Fat Duck restaurant launches next month.

heston.blumenthalI have those childhood memories: being on the couch for a couple of days, watching bad game shows and barfing endlessly, much like the 529 diners and staff who were sickened by norovirus at the Fat Duck in 2009.

He has even turned to magician Derren Brown for tips on how to personalise people’s dinner choices by using auto-suggestion techniques so that diners get what they think they most crave.

Get the food safety right first, then indulge yourself with magic.

He also acknowledged that having more than 70 staff make handmade food for 40 seats at each service would likely force up the price of a meal.

Follow the money.

Bad idea: Raw oysters in nursing homes

With at least 67 sick from Vibrio parahaemolyticus linked to raw oysters in Canada and a full recall being launched by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, one has to wonder why raw oysters would be served in a nursing home.

oystersBut that’s what happened in France in 2012.

Researchers report that the presence of norovirus in shellfish is a public health concern in Europe. Here, we report the results of an investigation into a norovirus gastroenteritis outbreak following a festive lunch which affected 84 (57%) residents and staff members of a nursing home in January 2012 in France. Individuals who had eaten oysters had a significantly higher risk of developing symptoms in the following 2·5 days than those who had not, the risk increasing with the amount eaten [relative risk 2·2 (1·0–4·6) and 3·3 (1·6–6·6) for 3–4 and 5–12 oysters, respectively].

In healthy individuals during those days, 29 (32%) subsequently became ill, most of whom were staff members performing activities in close contact with residents. Genogroup II noroviruses were detected in fecal samples, in a sample of uneaten oysters and in oysters from the production area. Identifying a norovirus’s infectious dose may facilitate the health-related management of contaminated shellfish.

A norovirus oyster-related outbreak in a nursing home in France, January 2012

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 143 / Issue 12 / September 2015, pp 2486-2493

Loury, F. S. Le Guyader, J. C. Le Saux, K. Ambert-Balay, P. Parrot and B. Hubert

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9888431&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG

My frozen berries are now all boiled for a minute, linked to thousands of sickness in EU over past decade

Frozen berries have been linked to 26 cases of food contamination in the European Union in the past nine years.

frozen.strawberryHepatitis A, norovirus (a type of viral gastroenteritis) and Shigella sonnei (a type of dysentery) infections were identified as the main threat from the berries.

That’s according to a review released last week, which showed there had been 32 independent outbreaks of disease caused by contaminated frozen berries in the EU between 1983 and 2013, with more than 15,000 cases of norovirus reported.

It comes after Australian food processor Patties Foods recalled some of its frozen berries — which it imports from China — when 34 cases of Hepatitis A were linked to the products in February.

The Weekly Times revealed in March Australia had suffered dozens of its own food safety scandals in the past decade — mostly linked to contaminated fruit.

90 sick after swimming at Pennsylvania park

I don’t know what it is about Cowans Gap State Park’s beach and lake.

cowan_gap_state_park_lake(3)In 2011, at least 18 people were sickened with E. coli O157.

Now, the beach and lake is closed again as the Pennsylvania Department of Health continues to investigate what sickened people the weekend of July 18.

The latest information from the state said more than 90 people might have fallen ill after swimming in the lake in Fulton County. The estimate in an initial news release was “more than two dozen cases.

Department of Health spokeswoman Amy Worden said Monday she did not have an update on what caused the sickness. Epidemiologists and lab technicians are studying stool samples.

Frozen berries, how I used to love you, and now I cook you

Epidemiological investigations of outbreaks of hepatitis A virus (HAV) and norovirus (NoV) infections in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) in the last five years have highlighted frozen berries as a vehicle of infection.

frozen.strawberry-300x225Given the increasing berry consumption in the EU over the last decades, we undertook a review of the existing evidence to assess the potential scale of threat associated with this product. We searched the literature and four restricted-access online platforms for outbreak/contamination events associated with consumption of frozen berries. We performed an evaluation of the sources to identify areas for improvement. The review revealed 32 independent events (i.e. outbreak, food contamination) in the period 1983–2013, of which 26 were reported after 2004. The identified pathogens were NoV, HAV and Shigella sonnei. NoV was the most common and implicated in 27 events with over 15,000 cases reported. A capture–recapture analysis was performed including three overlapping sources for the period 2005–2013.

The study estimated that the event-ascertainment was 62%. Consumption of frozen berries is associated with increasing reports of NoV and HAV outbreaks and contamination events, particularly after 2003. A review of the risks associated with this product is required to inform future prevention strategies.

Better integration of the available communication platforms and databases should be sought at EU/EEA level to improve monitoring, prevention and control of food-borne-related events.

Food-borne diseases associated with frozen berries consumption: A historical perspective, European Union, 1983 to 2013

Eurosurveillance, Volume 20, Issue 29, 23 July 2015

Tavoschi L, Severi E, Niskanen T, Boelaert F, Rizzi V, Liebana E, Gomes Dias J, Nichols G, Takkinen J, Coulombier D.

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=21193

Beaches closed after 29 swimmers sickened with Norovirus, at Pennsylvania park

State officials have closed the beaches at a central Pennsylvania state park after at least 29 swimmers were sickened with Norovirus, and possibly E. coli bacteria in the water.

Cowans Gap State ParkThe lake and beach at Cowans Gap State Park have been closed to swimmers, though fishing and boating are still permitted. The park straddles the border of Franklin and Fulton counties and is located about 60 miles west of Harrisburg.

100 lawyers and students sickened: Lawsuit filed against Chinatown restaurant in Philadelphia

A lawsuit has been filed against a Chinatown restaurant after about 100 lawyers and law students attending a private Lunar New Year dinner in February said they developed food poisoning.

Joy Tsin LauSamantha F. Green, a Philadelphia lawyer who attended the event at Joy Tsin Lau on 10th and Race streets and who said she was diagnosed with the norovirus, filed the lawsuit, citing a “sordid history of health code violation and food-borne illness.”

A copy of the document filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on Monday was obtained by Philly.com, which reported the story.

Green’s lawyer wrote in the lawsuit that Joy Tsin Lau was cited for 249 health code violations by the Philadelphia Department of Health in the past six years.

The document also stated that on the morning after the dinner, Green began to feel ill and “raced to the emergency room at Pennsylvania Hospital in agonizing pain. Following nine hours of vomiting, she was unable to consume anything but bananas and tea for four days.”

The lawsuit also noted that 17 days before the banquet, a city health department restaurant inspector allegedly declared that management practices at Joy Tsin Lau allowed “unacceptable public health or food-safety conditions,” and four days after the food-poisoning incident, another city inspector allegedly found “41 violations that indicated a chronic inability to adhere to basic food safety standards.”

The most recent complaint by the city was filed May 6, but a July 6 court date on the complaint was canceled.

A representative of Joy Tsin Lau did not comment on the lawsuit or past complaints. The restaurant currently remains open.

Don’t serve food when you’re sick: Almost 300 in mass lawsuit over UK Toby Carvery norovirus outbreak

The number of people who are taking legal action against an Exeter restaurant following an outbreak of norovirus has nearly reached 300.

toby.carvery.exeterLawyers are investigating the norovirus outbreak at Toby Carvery at the Exeter Arms, Middlemoor.

Irwin Mitchell have now revealed that it is representing 285 people in relation to the case.

They believe more than 300 people may have been affected by the outbreak.

The restaurant chain confirmed that tests run by the Environmental Health department, after a man was sick in the restaurant foyer in the evening of Sunday, March 29 tested positive for the virus.

The pub underwent a deep clean overnight on Thursday, April 2, but continued to trade over the busy Easter bank holiday weekend when more customers fell ill, finally closing on Tuesday, April 7.

Raw still risky: 102 sickened with Norovirus in oysters at Taiwan restaurant

A recent diarrhea outbreak among 102 tourists on Green Island off Taitung was caused by a norovirus infection at a local seafood restaurant that had served contaminated raw oysters imported from South Korea, Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported Thursday.

SUN0705N-Oyster7Taitung health authorities have received seven suspected food poisoning cases between June 26-30 which involved 102 tourists in six tour groups who displayed symptoms of diarrhea, with 76 of whom having been hospitalized.

After an investigation, Taitung County’s Public Health Bureau found that all the 120 people had eaten raw oysters at a seafood restaurant on Green Island and directed that all restaurants around the island to stop serving raw oysters.

In addition, two raw oyster samples have been found with the presence of norovirus, while two travelers who visited local hospitals tested positive for the norovirus, according to a report from the FDA on July 8.

The FDA then traced the sources of the contaminated products and found they were among a total of 16,447.5 kilograms of raw oysters imported by two aquaculture companies in New Taipei and Kaohsiung from South Korea, a FDA official said Thursday.