This is why the UK says, handwashing with soap and water only at any petting farm or zoo.
A recent cluster of cryptosporidium cases cropped up after a Iowa preschool class visited a farm, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the Iowa Department of Public Health’s medical director, reported this morning. “While on the farm, the children petted cows and ate snacks,” Quinlisk wrote in a weekly email to public-health officials statewide. “The children did use hand sanitizer before eating; however, hand sanitizers are not particularly effective against crypto. Please continue to encourage handwashing with soap and water whenever possible.”
The Des Moines Register reports the parasite sickened hundreds of Iowans this summer, mainly via tainted swimming-pool water. Many of the patients suffered severe diarrhea. The outbreak has slowed now that most public pools have closed for the season. But infections also can happen in other ways, including contact with infected animals.
Quinlisk did not identify the preschool or say how many children became ill.
On Sept. 12, the state health department reported that there had been 861 confirmed or probable cases in Iowa so far in 2013. In all of 2012, there were 328 such cases.
After 200 park employees and visitors reported bouts of gastrointestinal illness at Yellowstone National Park and nearby Grand Teton National Park this month, national park officials have warned visitors to be vigilant about hygiene.
The outbreak started on June 7, when a group touring the Mammoth Hot Springs complained of stomach flu and other gastrointestinal problems. After the tour group members reported their illnesses, about other 50 visitors and 150 park employees reported similar symptoms.
Preliminary reports found that they had norovirus, or “stomach flu,” which affects up to 21 million people, every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Al Mash, spokesman for Yellowstone National Park, said campers who were worried about the outbreak should take care to properly store their food and wash their hands with soap and water before eating. “Don’t rely on hand sanitizer. It’s good for a while if you don’t have access to water,” said Mash. “But sanitizer is a poor second to washing your hands.”
The death of a man in an RCMP cell in southern Alberta has, according to The Star, changed the way hand sanitizer is provided in hospitals.
Mounties took a drunken Kurt Kraus to the Vulcan Hospital in May 2010 and a doctor determined it was safe for him to be taken to a cell in nearby Gleichen to sober up.
A nurse had suspected the chronic alcoholic had ingested some hand sanitizer while at the hospital, but no one knew he had also swallowed 10 anti-depressant pills.
Within minutes of being placed in the cell, the 46-year-old stopped breathing.
A fatality inquiry in Calgary heard the man’s death was caused by the combination of drugs and alcohol — his blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal driving limit.
A judge made no recommendations, but noted that hospitals have since removed all portable bottles of hand sanitizer and replaced them with wall-mounted dispensers in public areas.
Over the past decade when hand sanitizers were all the rage, I heard several stories of hospital floors mysteriously losing their stash of sanitizer.
And there was this one time, when migrant produce workers in Ontario moved on and the supply of sanitizer also moved on.
Ben Raymond is an MS student at North Carolina State University focusing on food safety through social media, barf banter, and creating new foods. The kind that won’t make you barf.
I really hate puking; the thought makes me cringe. I may be in trouble, because not only did Ben and his family have noro, now it looks like a new(ish) variant of norovirus has hit North Carolina. Norovirus one, you zero is a website for self-declaring a virus-induced barf fest. Based on the number of reports from Raleigh, I’m doomed to add myself to this repository of misery soon. The Raleigh News and Observer reports seven confirmed cases in the area; coupled with a whole lot of unreported cases of hugging the toilet only to quickly turn and let loose from the other end. A gruesome mental image, but as anyone who has ever had the so-called stomach flu, it is nasty.
The new variant is named Sydney after the Australian city. A new variant of the genotype GII.4 the super mutating kind of norovirus, appears every few years. There are lots of different noro genotypes, but the GII.4 variant has been the main culprit for widespread outbreaks since 2001. New strains make people barf the world over and then mutate yet again to repeat it all once more.
Resistance to noro infections is not well understood, but GII.4 evolves to escape both acquired and innate immunity. In human challenge studies participants have been re-infected with the same strain, though this was using a rather large infectious dose. Most infections cause diarrhea and vomiting for an exciting 24-60 hours and then subside without the need for medical attention. However, populations such as those in nursing homes facilitate a rapid spread, and the population is more susceptible to prolonged illness with serious consequences.
Infected individuals can shed virus particles for three weeks after symptoms subside. The best defense is to wash your hands often and thoroughly. There are sanitizers on the market that will inactivate noro but that convenient alcohol goop isn’t going to cut it this time. Alcohol-based sanitizers are effective against permeating bacterial cell walls (and blowing them apart); but norovirus doesn’t have a cell wall so inactivation isn’t going to happen. Risk-reduction comes from the mechanical act of wash/rinse/dry which removes the virus from hands.
Although alcohol-based disinfectants prevent certain strains of flu, they are “useless” against viruses – including the norovirus – that are not coated in lipid “envelopes,” the New York Times reports.
The chilling news is based on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the winter of 2006-07, researchers determined that facilities in which staff used alcohol-based sanitizers were six times more likely to have an outbreak of norovirus compared to those in which staff cleaned their hands using soap and water.
“This study suggests that preferential use of [alcohol-based hand sanitizer] over soap and water for routine hand hygiene might be associated with increased risk of norovirus outbreaks,” the researchers concluded.
There’s a reason silverware is often delivered on or in a napkin at a restaurant: to prevent contact with the gunk on the table.
All proper-mannered people will unwrap the knife and fork and spoon and tuck the napkin into their shirt collar.
Food comes on a plate. Silverware hits the table. What’s on the table?
One of my favorite questions when dining out is, what was the table wiped with, as a server finishes cleaning up from the previous diners.
Lisa Gibson of Access Atlanta notes that various restaurants, from the upscale ones to the deli type and wings spots, face food safety citations related to wiping cloths and sanitizing solution.
When restaurants fall short in this area, inspectors advise the managers on proper procedures. Also, Georgia’s food safety guidelines are clear on this subject:
Cloths in-use for wiping food spills from tableware and carry-out containers that occur as food is being served shall be maintained dry and used for no other purpose.
Cloths in-use for wiping counters and other equipment surfaces shall be held between uses in a chemical sanitizer solution at a concentration specified. …
Cloths in-use for wiping surfaces in contact with raw animal foods shall be kept
separate from cloths used for other purposes.
Dry wiping cloths and the chemical sanitizing solutions in which wet wiping cloths are held between uses shall be free of food debris and visible soil.
I received a bunch of my food safety education while working with fruit and vegetable farmers in southern Ontario (that’s in Canada). Sure, I learned lots of stuff in classes, but a lot of my training on practical ways to keep folks from barfing was in greenhouses, fields and orchards. Farmers deal with variability in weather, wildlife, prices and staff. Driving up and down dirt roads and walking through their systems led me to the conclusion that it takes a lot to surprise a producer.
One farmer who figured his staff were one of his biggest weaknesses, invested in a couple of portable restrooms that he was going to cart around to the orchards. He told his staff that they were expected to cease the convention of peeing against a tree. The staff didn’t like the idea of having to stop and walk back to the road where the porta potties were located. So they set them on fire and burned them down. The producer said calling the fire department was an unexpected outcome of his food safety program.
Another producer told me that he had installed fully stocked hands free restrooms in his greenhouse, put boxes of one-use gloves throughout his site and came in one day to see a staff member urinating on the outside of the restroom with his gloves on. Maybe not surprising is that he fired the employee on the spot.
Giving folks tools for risk reduction doesn’t always end up with the intended action. According to AP and USA Today teenagers are buying alcohol-based hand sanitizer, not as a bacterial reduction tool, but as a party drink precursor.
Teenagers are showing up in Los Angeles emergency rooms after drinking inexpensive liquid hand sanitizers to get drunk.
Cheap and easily accessible hand sanitizers contain 62 percent ethyl alcohol.
The Los Angeles Times says six teenagers have shown up in two San Fernando Valley emergency rooms in the last few months with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer.
Some of the teens used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, making a potent drink similar to a shot of hard liquor. Distillation instructions can be found on the Internet.
Although there’s only been a few cases, county public health toxicology expert Cyrus Rangan says it could signal a dangerous trend.
The Pima County Board of Health wanted you to have some hand sanitizer before you have a hot dog, but the Board of Supervisors denied a proposal to require food trucks to provide the gel.
The proposed ordinance also would have required food festivals to provide a handwashing station for every five portable toilets.
During their meeting this morning, the supervisors voted unanimously to reject the proposed ordinance.
Some food truck owners and festival organizers said the county doesn’t need to legislate handwashing.
"Hand sanitizer isn’t communism, it’s common sense," health board member Brad Brumm said after the meeting.
Supervisor Ann Day said common sense will lead people to carry hand sanitizer in a purse or pocket if they want to wash up.
Sunday morning in Brisbane and we went for a stroll to the University of Queensland for a campus-wide open house, largely designed to provide information for high-school students and their parents.
The animal science folks had a small petting zoo set up, featuring an echindna (right, exactly as shown). I asked the woman what kind of animal it was and she told me I wasn’t much of an Australian.
I said, no, I’m not, I’ve been here four days.
They also had a bunch of baby chicks (left, nice flip-flops), and one of the students thrust one at Sorenne to pet. I was at the stroller, or would have used my usual line: get that salmonella factory away from my kid.
And there were a couple of goats and a couple of cows in a fenced-in area. I didn’t see anyone pet them, probably because it was early and people were just streaming in.
I did however observe this kid (below, exactly as shown), chowing down on what they called Fairy Floss (cotton candy) while petting the chicks.
This was a small outfit, and the risk of disease transmission was probably low, but there were no signs encouraging handwashing, no handwashing facilities, no sanitizer or wipes. Nothing.
A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/petting-zoos-outbreaks.
The Brits are hammering home the message: sanitizers and wipes are not enough at petting zoos; people must wash hands with soap and water.
Antibacterial gels and wipes are not a substitute for washing hands with soap and water. These gels or wipes may be unable to remove contamination in the way that running water can. However, using such gels after hand washing with soap and water may further reduce the risk of picking up these infections.
Dr John Clarke, a consultant microbiologist at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, said, “Touching animals, fences and other surfaces can lead to infection, as you may pick up these bacteria and accidentally pass them to your mouth. It only takes a small number of the bacteria to cause infection.”
Proper handwashing requires access to proper facilities; the Riley County Fair starts later this week (that’s in Manhattan, Kansas) and I doubt they gotten the message.