Opryland Norovirus case count now at 3

I first visited Music Row and Opryland in 1997 as part of the International Association for Food Protection annual meeting (I may have the year wrong).

John-Prine-300x199I went back to Music Row in 2004, to give a talk to a grocery group, oh, and catch John Prine one night and Lyle Lovett the next at the Ryman.

If my church wasn’t the local hockey arena, it would be the Ryman.

But over at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Metro health officials now say that they have confirmed 3 Norovirus cases.

Metro Public Health Department officials have been working closely with Opryland Hotel and the Tennessee Department of Health since being asked by the hotel to investigate the cases last Thursday.

Norovirus in seaweed

In February 2012, an outbreak of gastroenteritis was reported in school A; a successive outbreak was reported at school B. A retrospective cohort study conducted in school A showed that seasoned green seaweed with radishes (relative risk 7·9, 95% confidence interval 1·1–56·2) was significantly associated with illness.

seaweed-saladSimilarly, a case-control study of students at school B showed that cases were 5·1 (95% confidence interval 1·1–24·8) times more likely to have eaten seasoned green seaweed with pears. Multiple norovirus genotypes were detected in samples from students in schools A and B. Norovirus GII.6 isolated from schools A and B were phylogenetically indistinguishable. Green seaweed was supplied by company X, and norovirus GII.4 was isolated from samples of green seaweed.

Green seaweed was assumed to be linked to these outbreaks. To our knowledge, this is the first reported norovirus outbreak associated with green seaweed.

First norovirus outbreaks associated with consumption of green seaweed (Enteromorpha spp.) in South Korea

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 143 / Issue 03 / February 2015, pp 515-521

J.H. Park, H.S. Jeong, J.S. Lee, S.W. Lee, Y.H. Choi, S. J. Choi, I.S. Joo, Y.R. Kim, Y.K. Park, and S.K Youn

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=9527975&fileId=S0950268814001332

Cruising: Avoiding Norovirus on the high seas

Experts say to prepare ahead is the best way to keep your health while on vacation. Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands frequently, according to the New York Daily News. Proper hygeiene can go a long way. Practice your balance because you will want to avoid touching handrails.

cruisingExperts say Norovirus is spread by touching elevator buttons, salt and pepper shakers and anything else that the mass population will also come in contact with on the cruise ship.

According to reports, door handles, toilet seats and baby-changing tables pose a big risk, so proceed with caution! Press the elevator button with a knuckle instead of your fingertips, a trick that women with manicures have known the world over.

Avoid contact with salt and pepper shakers because norovirus is spread by common contact.  If you really need salt or pepper on your food, use a napkin to handle the shakers.

Use a handkerchief or napkin to touch door handles. 

vomit cruiseChange the baby on your cabin bed and use your foot to put down or lift a toilet seat. Handrails are deadly for spreading the virus. 

Avoid contact with the handrails and practice your balance by walking down the stairs in your home or office without using the banister. 

Cruise ship sickness/norovirus outbreaks lowest in 14 years

The number of gastrointestinal illness (GI) outbreaks, including norovirus and enterotoxigenic E. coli, on cruise ships fell to the lowest level in 14 years in 2014.

vomit cruiseThe CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website contains detailed reports about the outbreaks on cruise ships from 1994 to 2015. The CDC considers it an outbreak anytime 3% or more of the passengers and crew members report diarrheal symptoms onboard a vessel of at least 100 passengers on sailings that are 3 days or longer.

There were nine reported outbreaks of GI on 7 different cruise ships in 2014, tying 2013 with the lowest number of outbreaks since 2001. When you take into consideration that the number of cruise ships is at a record high, this past year saw the lowest percentage of outbreaks on cruise ships since 2001.

3 weeks in November: 56 hospital outbreaks of norovirus in West Midlands and North East UK hospitals

Outbreak News Today again, citing Public Health England (PHE) as documenting 56 suspected and laboratory confirmed hospital norovirus outbreaks with the West Midlands and North East regions from the week beginning Nov. 3 through the week beginning Nov. 24.

This brings the annual total to 572 hospital norovirus outbreaks through the week of Nov.24.

53 sickened: Norovirus suspected in outbreak of illness at Nassau Inn

The Princeton Health Department concluded an investigation of Nassau Inn following reports of illness from Thanksgiving diners, the Times of Trenton reported.

norovirus-2Town health officer Jeffrey Grosser said that norovirus is suspected in the majority of reported cases due to the nature of the symptoms and rapid onset of illness, although the department has not obtained confirmed lab specimens from the ill diners.

Officials collected information from 53 customers whose symptoms included vomiting and diarrhea.

As part of the investigation, the department examined the hotel’s practices for heating food, refrigeration and cleaning. Health officers conducted interviews with employees and reminded them to wash their hands, sanitize touchable surfaces and remain home from work if they felt sick.

20 sickened at Subway: Colorado norovirus outbreak in BV serves as warning

Local health officials said they hope a norovirus outbreak in Buena Vista that left approximately 20 people ill in mid-November will serve as a reminder to area restaurants and food providers to be extra cautious.

norovirusThe Mountain Mail reports Chaffee County Public Health received complaints from five people saying they were ill after eating food from the Subway in Buena Vista, according to a restaurant inspection report.

Lab tests on samples from the five individuals all tested positive for norovirus.

Public Health estimates roughly 20 people, mostly students at Buena Vista High School, might have fallen ill in the outbreak.

An investigation by Chaffee County Environmental Health Manager Victor Crocco, who declined to name the restaurant, found that one employee reported feeling ill the day after the illness was originally reported.

Subway manager Brandon Alexander said he did not recall any of the employees being sick around the time of the outbreak.

Crocco’s investigation led him to conclude a sick employee, and not a larger food contamination, most likely caused the contamination.

Alexander said he doesn’t remember anything like this happening in his 8 years at the restaurant.

Barf spreads and why I work at home: How quickly one sick employee can infect an entire workplace

Using tracer viruses, researchers found that contamination of just a single doorknob or tabletop results in the spread of viruses throughout office buildings, hotels, and health care facilities. Within 2 to 4 hours, the virus could be detected on 40 to 60 percent of workers and visitors in the facilities and commonly touched objects, according to research presented at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC), an infectious disease meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

phageThere is a simple solution, though, says Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, Tucson, who presented the study.

“Using disinfecting wipes containing quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS) registered by EPA as effective against viruses like norovirus and flu, along with hand hygiene, reduced virus spread by 80 to 99 percent,” he says.

Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each year, it causes an estimated 19-21 million illnesses and contributes to 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths. Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then putting your fingers in your mouth is a common source of infection.

In the study, Gerba and his colleagues used bacteriophage MS-2 as a surrogate for the human Norovirus, as it is similar in shape, size and resistance to disinfectants. The phage was placed on 1 to 2 commonly touched surfaces (door knob or table top) at the beginning of the day in office buildings, conference room and a health care facility. After various periods of time (2 to 8 hours)  they sampled 60 to 100 fomites, surfaces capable of carrying infectious organisms (light switches, bed rails, table tops, countertops, push buttons, coffee pots handles, sink tap handles, door knobs, phones and computer equipment), for the phages.

norovirus“Within 2 to 4 hours between 40 to 60% of the fomites sampled were contaminated with virus,” says Gerba.

In the intervention phase cleaning personal and employees were provided with QUATS disinfectant containing wipes and instructed on proper use (use of at least once daily). The number of fomites on which virus was detected was reduced by 80% or greater and the concentration of virus reduced by 99% or more.

There are 90 different EPA-registered quat-based formulations available under 1500 different brand names that are formulated to kill Norovirus on solid surfaces. These are available as wipes or ready-to-use liquids or concentrates for use by professional maintenance teams. 

“The results shown that viral contamination of fomites in facilities occurs quickly, and that a simple intervention can greatly help to reduce exposure to viruses,” says Gerba.

Heston don’t know food safety

Amy and I both had an idiosyncratic experience in Melbourne over the weekend while celebrating Sorenne’s sixth birthday: we read a newspaper.

heston_blumenthalIn print.

On the cover of the Saturday magazine was a fawning piece about chef Heston Blumenthal, who is packing up his famed Fat Duck restaurant and moving it to Melbourne for six months, while the UK location undergoes renovations.

Amy read the piece and said, “I know why he made those 550 people sick at The Fat Duck: he has no training and only four weeks of restaurant experience before opening The Fat Duck.”

Unsurprisingly, the piece doesn’t mention that nasty outbreak of Norovirus that sickened 529 at the Fat Duck, which only seats some 40 people a night, so the virus was circulating between staff and patrons and back again.

A report by the UK Health Protection Agency concluded that Norovirus was probably introduced at the restaurant through contaminated shellfish, including oysters that were served raw and razor clams that may not have been appropriately handled or cooked.

Investigators identified several weaknesses in procedures at the restaurant may have contributed to ongoing transmission including: delayed response to the incident, the use of inappropriate environmental cleaning products, and staff working when ill. Up to 16 of the restaurant’s food handlers were reportedly working with Norovirus symptoms before it was voluntarily closed

Heston shills for Coles, Jamie Oliver shils for Woolworths, and both suck at food safety.

Why does Australia have to rely on overrated Brits for food porn?

So in Feb. 2015, when Blumenthal will leave his British power base and bring his beloved Duck, including almost its entire staff to, of all places, Melbourne’s Crown Casino, I won’t be attending.

The restaurant is being built here, and will operate for six months (while the English Fat Duck building is renovated). Then, when it closes, a second Dinner by Heston Blumenthal restaurant on the same site will remain permanently in Melbourne.

Science! MIT experiencing gastroenteritis outbreak

The boffins at MIT Medical need a refresher course in handwashing following an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis on campus.

scienceAccording to associate medical director Howard Heller, MIT Medical saw two patients with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea at the beginning of the week and 16 during the day on Wednesday. MIT-EMS responded to a few more cases overnight, and as of noon on Thursday, a small number of additional patients with similar symptoms had come into Urgent Care. Heller notes that cases do not appear to be linked to any specific dorm or dining hall.

“This may or may not be norovirus,” Heller says. Norovirus, which causes a severe and acute form of gastroenteritis, can spread quickly, especially in dense, semi-closed communities. “But whether it’s norovirus or not,” Heller continues, “our response should be the same — paying extra attention to practicing good hygiene. Frequent and consistent hand-washing is the best way to prevent the spread of this type of virus.”