A different kind of mile-high club: 12 ill on a flight to LAX

Illnesses happen on planes, and it’s miserable.

The Los Angeles Times reports that 12 passengers on a flight from Fiji to LAX fell ill with vomiting and nausea. Each of the affected flyers reported staying in the same hotel prior to the flight.

Maybe the best plane-related outbreak was one reported in Clinical Infectious Diseases a couple of years ago. I’d describe my poop and barf-related imagination as pretty good but I couldn’t have dreamt up the scenario that unfolded on a plane leaving Boston bound for Los Angeles in October 2008.F97B1678-9288-4E1F-A6DC-5C807461E2CA

Members of [the] tour group experienced diarrhea and vomiting throughout an airplane flight from Boston, Massachusetts, to Los Angeles, California, resulting in an emergency diversion 3 h after takeoff.

The problematic flight departed Boston on Oct 8, 2008, heading for Los Angeles and carrying among its passengers 35 members of a leaf-peeping tour group. (Four more members of the group had planned other routes home, while two had been hospitalized in the previous 2 days.)

The outbreak included a passenger with “multiple episodes of diarrhea, with at least 1 occurring in the aisle of the first-class section. The soiled aisle was not cleaned until after completion of the flight.”

British hotel linked to 100 noro illnesses

As Schaffner and a bunch of other food safety folks enjoy the Welsh weather as part of the IAFP European Symposium, a British resort at Cooden Beach is according to the Daily Mail, dealing with a bunch of norovirus.

The owner of a British seaside hotel has apologised after nearly 100 holidaymakers were struck down by what health officials have described as a norovirus outbreak.

Almost everyone who has visited the Cooden Beach Hotel in the last two weeks has come down with vomiting, diarrhoea and other symptoms of the highly-contagious airborne bug.

A Rother District Council spokesperson said it is believed that 100 people have been affected by the so-called ‘winter vomiting bug’ at the hotel in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Owner James Kimber has issued an apology to guests and staff, and has vowed to steam clean the entire guest house to prevent additional cases.

A sign posted on the door of the hotel, where guests enjoy sweeping views of the English Channel, warns visitors about an ‘airborne virus’ at the premises.
Airborne? Sort of. Spread through the air, definitely (see the vomit modeling machine from Grace Tung, below). Steam cleaning might not do much. CDC suggests using chlorine-based sanitizers.

Gross: Family encounters vomit on a plane

Illness happens on planes, and when it does it’s miserable.

In 2009 I dealt with campylobacteriosis over a day of travel from Manhattan (Kansas) to Raleigh. In 2013, then four-year-old Jack yacked 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. The flight crew let us off the plane first (although we were in the second-to-last row) as we potentially inoculated the plane and passengers with norovirus.6a00d834e06b8c69e200e54f7819da8834-800wi

According to MyFoxOrlando, the Shirley family encountered a bunch of vomit on a United flight to DC – and maybe their own norovirus inoculation event.

Scott Shirley had boarded a United Airlines flight with his wife and son when the trio noticed an unusual smell after placing their carry-on bags underneath their seats. After realizing their bags were damp, the family recognized the odor as vomit.

“She [Shirley’s wife] reached down and rubbed the ground and goes “the whole ground is wet,” and then she put it to her nose and goes “Oh my god! This is throw up,” Shirley explained to WUSA9.

Shirley says his wife (who ironically, works for FDA -ben) suffers from mysophobia – fear of germs– and she immediately began crying she was so upset. The airline did acknowledge that a passenger seated in that area had become sick on an earlier flight but the family was told it had been cleaned by the cabin crew.

“It was clear that no one had cleaned the area where we were sitting, because there was no evidence of any chemical smell what so ever. This was purely that distinct smell of vomit on our hands and backpacks,” Shirley told the Daily Mail.

CDC recommends using a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1000–5000 ppm to clean and disinfect an area where someone has vomited. Hard to do that on a plane with all the carpet.

From the barf files: Gross stories

A Rockville dad says his family was forced to sit in vomit on their flight home from Orlando, Fl. Sunday, while reports surfaced that UK nuns “forced children as young as 5 to eat own vomit in exchange for holiday.”

nun.blues.brothersThank you, religion.

Scott Shirley and his family were returning to the D.C. area from Orlando on a United flight when they started to store their bags underneath the seats. Shirley and his wife noticed their bags were wet. When his wife investigated further she discovered vomit. Shirley says he and his family were given two options, to either fly out the next day or stay in those seats. Due to his wife’s job, they had to make it back that night and could not take the next day flight.

Instead of offering to come in and scrub the seats down, the airline offered them blankets.

Nuns allegedly forced children as young as five to ear their own vomit in exchange for a holiday.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry heard how youngsters at Nazareth House in South Belfast had been promised a holiday if they ate their dinner.

In a statement read to the hearing, a witness said a lamb stew had been made but the meat was off and the nuns forced them to eat it anyway, reports Belfast Live.

And with the 66-year-old ex-Nazareth House resident taking the stand on oath, she was challenged: “You have said the smell was horrendous but the nuns made you eat it otherwise no one would go on holidays.

“You were literally eating your own vomit. Each of the children as young as five were doing this.

“You said it seemed to go on for hours.

“If you didn’t eat your stew, somebody else ate it for you because you all wanted to go on your holidays.

“The congregation has said the food was the best they could provide in the circumstances but they had never made a child eat meat that had gone off and deny anyone would have had to eat their own vomit.”

The inquiry also heard girls were forced to eat in silence and would be slapped with a cane, ruler, spoon or strap for talking.

The witness added: “I was beaten thousands of times. I remember so many punishments.”

Smells like teen spirit: 168 sickened at Auckland University

Health chiefs are confident a gastroenteritis outbreak that left 168 Auckland University students with diarrhea and vomiting is over.

vomit.salmThe Auckland Regional Public Health Service said 12 students were treated in the Auckland City Hospital’s emergency department.

The outbreak happened at the 442-bed University hall of residence, while some additional cases have been reported from Grafton, Whitaker Halls, and the student apartments.

Food tested after 22 Maine students vomit

State and city health officials are investigating after 22 students at Portland’s Reiche Elementary School suddenly came down with a stomach ailment this week.

vomit.toiletDistrict food services officials have sent samples of the food served at the school to a state laboratory for testing, the results of which are pending, the Portland Public Schools announced in a Friday afternoon news release.

The district stated in its release that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and city of Portland Health Division were notified because of “the unusual number of cases and presentation.”

The students each experienced upset stomachs and vomiting, but all 22 reported feeling improvements within hours and have since returned to school — 21 returned to classes the following day — the district stated.

Prevention better than post-op: UK Potters Holiday Resort Norovirus outbreak costs £250,000

An outbreak of the Norovirus winter vomiting bug at a holiday village, which affected over 100 guests, has cost the company at least £250,000.

norovirus-2Potters Resort at Hopton-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth closed on Monday after a number of cases the previous week.

The resort has undergone midweek cleaning and reopened to 750 guests on Friday afternoon.

Potters said the costs were a combination of lost trade and the clean-up operation.

A single food inspection agency: Will it make food safer? Will fewer people get sick?

When it comes to the safety of the food supply, I generally ignore the chatter from Washington and company-types. If a proposal does emerge, such as the creation of a single food inspection agency, I ask, Will it actually make food safer? Will fewer people get sick?

vomit.toiletThat was valid in 2008, the last time Durbin and DeLauro introduced a bill for a single food agency in the U.S., and still valid today.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois plan to introduce the Safe Food Act of 2015, which would create a single, independent federal food safety agency.

The fragmented Federal food safety system and outdated laws preclude an integrated, system-wide approach to preventing foodborne illness,” it says.

Currently most of the responsibility for food safety lies with FDA. USDA oversees meat, poultry and processed eggs.

The bill would merge food safety oversight into a single agency, providing authority to recall unsafe food and improve inspections of imported food.

“Food safety is a critical public health issue,” said Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at Consumer Federation of America. “But right now, responsibility for food safety is scattered among 15 different agencies. We need one independent agency focused on the safety of the entire food supply.”

“A single food safety agency would allow us to better focus our resources where the greatest risks lie,” Waldrop said. “The Safe Food Act is a strong vision for the future of food safety.”

Maybe.

Or not.

Countries, states, counties and cities have different forms of restaurant inspection oversight and disclosure. It’s a mess, but there’s no clear evidence that one approach works better than another.

With national food safety systems, Canada went single agency in 1997, but it’s got problems, as do Ireland, the U.K., and others.

I’m not against a single food agency (although the U.S. was founded on a series of checks and balances) but would like to see some evidence for the claims that are going to spew forth in the future, based on the rhetoric of 1998, repeated here:

vomit_here_by_seedpix_at_flickrA 1998 report from the U.S. General Accounting Office claimed the U.S. is lagging behind other countries – countries that have single food inspection systems.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said,

“Today’s GAO report shows that America ranked eighth out of eight countries — dead last — in terms of national food safety systems.”

There was no such ranking in the report. There was no ranking at all in the report.

Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3) said,

“This GAO report highlights how effectively a single food safety agency could protect our food supply. … By focusing on the entire food supply chain, placing primary responsibility for food safety on producers, and ensuring that food imports meet equivalent safety standards. …”

The U.S. system already does that. And the report says nothing about how a single food inspection agency could better accomplish such tasks.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest says,

“The GAO report also shows that creating a unified food safety program is technologically and economically feasible, and most important, effective in helping to reduce foodborne illness.”

There were no measures of effectiveness for any of the single food inspection agencies, other than whether public opinion or confidence in the shiny, happy new agencies increased over time based on self-reported surveys. A few advertisements could have accomplished that.

There was certainly no mention of any agency reducing the incidence of foodborne illness. The seven countries studied – Canada, UK, New Zealand, Ireland, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands – said they reorganized their food inspection agencies to improve effectiveness and efficiency; not one said to improve public health and have fewer sick people.

cat vomitThe GAO report — Selected Countries’ Systems Can Offer Insights into Ensuring Import Safety and Responding to Foodborne Illness – did say:

“The burden for food safety in most of the selected countries lies primarily with food producers, rather than with inspectors, although inspectors play an active role in overseeing compliance. This principle applies to both domestic and imported products.”

That’s good.

“None of the selected countries had comprehensively evaluated its reorganized food safety system … Most of the selected countries use proxy measures, such as public opinion surveys, to assess their effectiveness. Public opinion in several countries has improved in recent years.”

That’s bad.

In Canada, “At the consumer end of the spectrum, the food safety agency educates Canadians about safe food-handling practices and various food safety risks through its Web site, food safety fact sheets, and the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education, a group of industry, consumer, and government organizations that jointly develop and implement a national program to educate consumers on how to safely handle food.”

That’s awful.

To summarize: no rankings, no measures of effectiveness, and not much fact-checking.

Should there be a single food inspection agency in the U.S.? Maybe. But will it enhance the safety of the food supply? Will it mean fewer sick people?

Coldplay is worst thing to happen to music, and Gwyneth is worst thing to happen to food; maybe that’s why they hooked up

There was this one time, that saint Gwyneth made everyone throw up, and shockingly, it wasn’t from the overwhelming nauseous feeling they got from hearing Gwyneth Paltrow talk about how perfect Gwyneth Paltrow is all evening.

"Mortdecai" Los Angeles premiere***NO DAILY MAIL SALES***It was from food!

That’s right, famous cookbook author Gwyneth Paltrow admitted on The Rachael Ray Show (via Glamour) Friday morning that she once made a meal that made everyone fill the 17th century gilded French porcelain toilets in her home with hot barf. Now, I’ve read both of Goopy’s cookbooks, and I’d say that roughly 79% of what I saw gave me the heaves (so many vegetables and not ONE recipe for Frito Pie). But according to Goopy, it wasn’t because she was serving her guests some kind of disgusting pickled heirloom kholrabi over mashed sunchoke bullshit; it was because she screwed up the recipe for eggplant parmesan.What do you think?

“I went to the store and bought some eggplant, a jar of tomato sauce, and some really rubbery mozzarella cheese. I didn’t know that when you cook eggplant, you first have to sweat it to get all the bitter juice out, and I didn’t realize that you also have to bread eggplant parmesan and fry it before. So I put slices of raw eggplant with jarred tomato sauce and mozzarella. And everyone threw up.”

What do you think?

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