My noro nightmare: vomit on a plane

A few years ago I had a noro nightmare.

Jack, my then four-year-old son, and I were visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Calgary (that’s in Canada). I was there for a talk, Jack tagged along to hang out with the fam – and so we could buy him hockey equipment (there’s way more selection in the true north).Jackpic2

As we went from store to store, in and out of the car, Jack said that his stomach hurt. I asked him what would make him feel better and he suggested eating Doritos would do the trick.

Ten minutes later, half a bag in, Jack yacked all over the car.

We went home, he stayed on the couch all day complaining of stomach cramps. He fell asleep around 6pm.

We left for the airport at 5am the following morning and he puked in the car (and all over his clothes) again.

After going through security and customs we boarded our first flight to Minnesota. Jack seemed to be better and wasn’t complaining of nausea. When we got to our connection airport he talked me into buying him an ice cream sundae. It wasn’t my proudest parenting moment.

Back in the air about an hour following the dessert-for-lunch meal and all was fine. Until we hit some turbulence as we approached Raleigh. The shaking plane triggered another round of puke, which ended up on him and the window.

The flight attendants responded quickly, and provided me with plastic bags to contain the pukey clothes and coffee pods to manage the smell.

Because there are some sympathy yackers out there.

The flight crew let us off the plane first (although we were in the second-to-last row). I picked Jack up with one arm, carried the vomit-covered clothes bag in the other with our carry-on strapped on my back. I squeezed down the aisle, potentially inoculating the plane with norovirus.

The post-script to the story is that while I didn’t get sick (surprising since I handled all the puke) my brother and sister-in-law did. And maybe a few other passengers.

Stomach bug sweeps 49ers world titles

I didn’t know David Gilmore was a sailor.

49er_skiff.svgA stomach bug has many sailors at the 49er world championships off Buenos Aires battling bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.

“We don’t really know why everyone is getting sick, but at least a third of the fleet has come down with stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting,” said Australia’s Olympic gold medallist Nathan Outteridge.

Outteridge’s crewmate Iain Jensen was among those hit by the bug.

Outteridge said the water wasn’t clean and recent thunderstorms and rain had pushed filth onto the race course, which most sailors hadn’t expected in Argentina.

“In Rio everyone knows it’s dirty and takes precautions accordingly and looks after themselves, whereas here everyone gets told it’s just muddy water, but there’s a lot of filth in there as well,” he said.

With one more day of racing before the fleet splits for the men’s skiff 49er finals series, Outteridge and Jensen sit 17th, while Joel Turner and Lewis Brake are in 23rd.

David Gilmour and Rhys Mara follow in 27th, and Will and Sam Phillips are ranked 28th.

Safer food saves lives

That’s the view from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and I agree. food sent to several states can make people sick with the same germ. These multistate outbreaks cause serious illness, and more of these outbreaks are being found. Multistate outbreaks caused 56% of deaths in all reported foodborne outbreaks, although they accounted for just 3% of all such outbreaks from 2010 to 2014. Foods that cause multistate outbreaks are contaminated before they reach a restaurant or home kitchen. Investigating these outbreaks often reveals problems on the farm, in processing or in distribution that resulted in contaminated food. Lessons learned from these outbreaks are helping make food safer. To protect the public’s health, government at all levels and food industries need to work together to stop outbreaks and keep them from happening in the first place.

Food industries can:

Keep records to trace foods from source to destination.

Use store loyalty card and distribution records to help investigators identify what made people sick.

Recall products linked to an outbreak and notify customers.

Choose only suppliers that use food safety best practices.

Share proven food safety solutions with others in industry.

Make food safety a core part of company culture.

Meet or exceed new food safety laws and regulations.

Problem foodborne outbreaks are serious and hard to solve.

Multistate outbreaks can be hard to detect.

Contaminated food grown or produced in a single place can wind up in kitchens across America.

People in many states may get sick from a contaminated food, making it difficult to spot the outbreak.

Detecting that an outbreak is happening requires specialized testing of germs in laboratories across the country.

Multistate outbreaks can be hard to investigate.

Investigators depend on sick people to remember what they ate several weeks earlier.

If the problem is a contaminated ingredient, people may unknowingly eat it in many different foods.

Unexpected foods have been linked to recent multistate outbreaks, such as caramel apples and chia powder.

Contaminated food can be hard to trace to the source.

Companies may not have complete records of the source or destination of foods.

food.that.doesn' food can be even harder to trace to its source, and imports to the US are increasing.

Many different farms may produce the beef in a single burger or the fresh vegetables sold in a single crate.

Innovative methods are helping detect and solve more multistate outbreaks.

New DNA sequencing technology is improving public health’s ability to link germs found in sick people and in contaminated foods.

Information technology is helping investigators in many places work together.

Efforts by food industries are helping trace contaminated foods to their source.

What Can Be Done

The Federal government is

Implementing improved food safety laws and regulations.

Working with state and local health departments to use better methods, including DNA sequencing, to find, investigate and quickly stop multistate foodborne outbreaks.

Helping state and local health departments improve food safety inspections and guidelines.

State and local public health agencies can

Encourage clinical laboratories to quickly submit germs from sick people to the public health laboratory for advanced testing.

Test the germs from sick people quickly to find if others got sick from the same germ.

Interview sick people promptly about what they ate, using standard questions.

Family guy barfTest suspect foods, if available.

Participate in national networks to share improved methods for investigating multistate outbreaks.

Encourage industry actions that focus on preventing foodborne disease.

Health care providers can

Submit germs from sick people quickly to public health laboratories for advanced testing.

Report suspected outbreaks rapidly to the local or state health department.

Inform patients or caretakers of those in high-risk groups that they have an increased risk for food poisoning. These include pregnant women, adults over 65 years, children under 5, and people with weakened immune systems. Steps to prevent food poisoning can be found on:

Food industries can

Keep records to trace foods from source to destination.

Use store loyalty card and distribution records to help investigators identify what made people sick.

Recall products linked to an outbreak and notify customers.

Choose only suppliers that use food safety best practices.

Share proven food safety solutions with others in industry.

Make food safety a core part of company culture.

Meet or exceed new food safety laws and regulations.

Everyone can

Check for food recalls and information about how to handle and prepare food safely on: action if you think you have a foodborne sickness:

Talk to your health care provider.

Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.

Report your sickness to the health department if you think you are part of an outbreak.

Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your sickness.

Consider getting a loyalty card where you shop. If there is a recall, the store can use the card to notify you.

Careful with barf: Queensland woman sues Woolworths over vomit slip

A Queensland woman is suing Woolworths for $750,000 after she slipped on a puddle of an employee’s vomit near the entrance of the Ipswich store.

vomit_here_by_seedpix_at_flickrBefore the fall Jennifer Hunt said she was a fit woman who cared for her husband, but the Courier Mail reports she now relies on her daughter to be her carer.

“I’d just walked in. I didn’t even see it. I just went down,” she said.

“At first I thought it was orange juice, but then I smelt it and thought ‘This is somebody’s vomit’.”

The claim states Mrs Hunt injured her lower back, left hip, her knees and her left foot in the fall in November 30, 2012.

The supermarket chain has disputed the extent of her injuries.

Norovirus surrogates are tough to inactivate in cotton and polyester

A couple of years ago Sam, the almost-5-year-old yacked all over the backseat of the van on a car trip. The polyester carpeting and cotton fabric-covered seats smelled for weeks. We even tried to hose the van out, leaving the doors open for a couple of days (and then a frog set up shop in there).

It was most likely motion sickness that led to Sam’s vomit event, but people with noro puke on all sorts of surfaces. My friend Angie Fraser and colleagues at Clemson just published what happens when you try to inactivate norovirus surrogates on different surfaces including polyester and glass.

From the discussion: images

Our results indicated that surface and virus type had a significant influence on RE (that’s recovery efficiency – ben). We found that both FCV and MNV exhibited higher RE when inoculated onto glass than either polyester or cotton. In addition, the recovery of both viruses from cotton was significantly lower than that of polyester. Compared with FCV, MNV exhibited a higher recovery from soft porous surfaces; however, it was only significant for cotton. Previous studies have also document- ed the ability of HuNoV surrogates to be recovered with greater efficiency from hard nonporous surfaces than from soft porous surfaces. Viruses may become more tightly bound to soft porous surfaces due to their ability to absorb the virus-containing media and trap viruses in the subsurface.

Recovery and Disinfection of Two Human Norovirus Surrogates, Feline Calicivirus and Murine Norovirus, from Hard Nonporous and Soft Porous Surfaces

Journal of Food Protection, Number 10, October 2015, pp. 1776-1924, pp. 1842-1850(9)

Yeargin, Thomas; Fraser, Angela; Huang, Guohui; Jiang, Xiuping


Human norovirus is a leading cause of foodborne disease and can be transmitted through many routes, including environmental exposure to fomites. In this study, both the recovery and inactivation of two human norovirus surrogates, feline calicivirus (FCV) and murine norovirus (MNV), on hard nonporous surfaces (glass) and soft porous surfaces (polyester and cotton) were evaluated by both plaque assay and reverse transcription quantitative PCR method. Two disinfectants, sodium hypochlorite (8.25%) and accelerated hydrogen peroxide (AHP, at 4.25%) were evaluated for disinfection efficacy. Five coupons per surface type were used to evaluate the recovery of FCV and MNV by sonication and stomaching and the disinfection of each surface type by using 5 ml of disinfectant for a contact time of 5 min. FCV at an initial titer of ca. 7 log PFU/ml was recovered from glass, cotton, and polyester at 6.2, 5.4, and 3.8 log PFU/ml, respectively, compared with 5.5, 5.2, and 4.1 log PFU/ml, respectively, for MNV with an initial titer of ca. 6 log PFU/ml. The use of sodium hypochlorite (5,000 ppm) was able to inactivate both FCV and MNV (3.1 to 5.5 log PFU/ml) below the limit of detection on all three surface types. AHP (2,656 ppm) inactivated FCV (3.1 to 5.5 log PFU/ml) below the limit of detection for all three surface types but achieved minimal inactivation of MNV (0.17 to 1.37 log PFU/ml). Reduction of viral RNA by sodium hypochlorite corresponded to 2.72 to 4.06 log reduction for FCV and 2.07 to 3.04 log reduction for MNV on all three surface types. Reduction of viral RNA by AHP corresponded to 1.89 to 3.4 log reduction for FCV and 0.54 to 0.85 log reduction for MNV. Our results clearly indicate that both virus and surface types significantly influence recovery efficiency and disinfection efficacy. Based on the performance of our proposed testing method, an improvement in virus recovery will be needed to effectively validate virus disinfection of soft porous surfaces.

Czech pub installs vomitorium for patrons

Vomiting in a nightclub bathroom during a big night out has never been so glamorous with one Czech establishment now offering a unique twist on an old feature — a flushing spew bowl.

vomitoriumukReddit user ThangCZ posted a photo of a modern-day spittoon, which are traditionally used to dispose of excess saliva or vomit.

It even comes complete with two handrails for proper steady spew technique and a sign for those who are unsure of how to correctly drunkenly purge their stomach.

The photo attracted hundreds of comments with many pointing out that while spittoons have fallen out of popularity in modern times, they are still commonly seen and used in German frat houses and European establishments.

Spittoons were common features of saloons and taverns in the 20th century, with many built directly into the bar.

Although spittoons were typically used for spitting tobacco, they were also often used by patrons to relieve themselves.

It is often wrongly claimed that rich Romans had rooms called vomitoriums where they could empty their stomach during large feasts. A vomitorium was actually an entrance/exit point in an amphitheatre that could fill the space much quicker.

Watch NFL linebacker Brian Cushing puke an endless stream of vomit

In hockey coaching camp, we’re told, the old school ways of making kids skate until they puke is a no-no.

I agree.

Apparently, the concussion-free National Football League hasn’t gotten that message, as Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing demonstrated at a NFL training camp.

Watch Cushing prove to everyone that he’s only human by puking for nearly a minute during last night’s episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks.

77 sick at Calif. Chipotle

Ventura County health officials say at least 60 customers reported feeling sick after eating at a Chipotle restaurant in Simi Valley last week.

It’s unclear what made the customers ill – test results were pending Monday.

Mike Byrne, food safety supervisor for the Ventura County Environmental Health Division, said the restaurant also sent home 17 employees for being sick, closed the business to clean it for a day and brought in new food before reopening.

Health officials inspected the restaurant at 1263 Simi Town Center Way on Monday.

NBC4 reviewed the restaurant’s health inspection reports on the Environmental Health Division website. Violations posted Monday included:

The premises and/or floors, walls, or ceiling are in an unsanitary condition.

Equipment or utensils are not clean, fully operative and in good repair.

Flying insects observed within the food facility.

Food handlers employed at this facility do not possess a valid food handler card and/or records documenting that food employees possess a valid food handler card are not maintained by the food facility for review as required.

The restroom is unclean or in disrepair.

NBC4 found the restaurant has repeated violations for some of the same issues dating back to January 2015.

Despite the findings, health officials said the Simi Valley Chipotle passed Monday’s inspection and found no major violations.

In a statement to NBC4, Chipotle said: “The safety and well being of our customers is always our highest priority. When we were contacted by customers who reported feeling poorly after visiting our restaurant in Simi Valley, we notified health department officials, immediately began a review of the incident, and have taken all of the necessary steps to ensure that it is safe to eat there.”

Calling all norovirus: passenger forced to sit beside vomit on plane

I’ve encountered vomit in public a few times.

A few weeks ago a fellow food safety nerd and I sat on a Seattle train and watched a woman 20 ft away yack on the floor while her partner consoled her. My friend and I figured that we’d get noro just by being there (we didn’t).CMhGalfWUAAnNds

A few years ago my son threw up on a flight which led to a fascinating approach by Delta Airlines involving plastic bags to contain the risk and coffee pods to manage the smell.

According to BBC, a Rynair passenger was forced to sit next to a vomit pile on a flight from Gatwick to London this week.

A 24-year-old was forced to sit in the same aisle as vomit left by a previous passenger on a Ryanair flight from Gatwick to Dublin on Sunday.

Noel O’Hare noticed the smell and mess as soon as he sat down with his friends on the hour and a half flight.220px-Neilyounglandingonwatercover

He told Newsbeat the “unsightly mess” was on the ground mixed in with a bag and tissues.

Ryanair cabin staff told him that because Gatwick isn’t their base and their cleaners are in Dublin, it couldn’t be cleaned up until they arrived back in Ireland.

Spray and aerosolization of vomit particles makes being in that adjacent seat particularly fun.