October 21, 2016

CDC Updates Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Strawberries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating its investigation into the hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries imported from Egypt. As of October 17, 2016, 134 people with the illness have been reported from nine states. The outbreak case count by state is: Arkansas (1), California (1), Maryland (12), New York (3), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (107), West Virginia (7), and Wisconsin (1). Fifty-two ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. The patient in Oregon purchased smoothies from a Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia while traveling. The outbreak case count is so high in Virginia because Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurants in that state, as well as in Maryland, North Carolina, and West Virginia, received the … [Read more...]

CDC Spending $67 Million to Fight Antibiotic Resistance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is going to spend $67,000,000 to help fight the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That money will go to health departments across the country in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and to local health departments in six major cities. Those six cities include New York City, Houston, Chicago, D.C., Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. The money will be available to jurisdictions starting today, August 1, 2016. That money will help labs test for multidrug-resistant bacteria and will aid in whole genome sequencing (WGS) of Salmonella, Shigella, and other intestinal bacteria. Officials hope that this funding and new testing will help the government respond more quickly to food poisoning outbreaks. That funding will also help support seven … [Read more...]

General Mills Flour Outbreak Now Includes Two Strains of E. coli

The General Mills flour E. coli outbreak now includes two strains of the bacteria: E coli O121 and E. coli O26.  Initially, only one strain, E. coli O121, was linked the outbreak, which now includes 46 cases in 21 states. But, whole genome sequencing  tests performed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified the second strain. Like their better-known relative E.coli O157:H7,  E. coli O26 and E. coli O121 produce shiga toxins that can cause serious illness. In this outbreak, 13 people have been hospitalized and one of them has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, (HUS) a life-threatening complication of E. coli infections that leads to kidney failure. The new finding prompted General Mills to expand its recall of flours possibly contaminated with E. coli. On May 31, … [Read more...]

CDC: Flour From General Mills KC Plant is Likely E. coli Outbreak Source

Flour produced at a General Mills plant in Kansas City, Mo.  is the likely source of a 20-state E. coli O121 outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The outbreak, which hospitalized 10 people, triggered a 10 million-pound recall. The recalled flours were sold under the brand names Gold Medal Flour, Gold Medal Wondra Flour, and Signature Kitchens Flour. Consumers who have purchased these products should not use them as E. coli can cause serious illness and death. E. coli symptoms usually develop between two and five days of exposure but can appear within 24 hours or take as long as 10 days to develop.  They include stomach cramps and diarrhea, that is sometimes bloody. Sometimes these symptoms, which last about a week, are accompanied by a … [Read more...]

CDC Study on Retail Deli Slicer Cleaning Frequency

The CDC, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the week of April 1, 2016 has published a study on how often retail deli slicers are cleaned. Deli foods are notorious for being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Listeria infections are the third highest number of foodborne illness deaths in the country, after Salmonella and Toxoplasma gondii. Deli meats are a major source of listeriosis illnesses. And once Listeria bacteria are present in a facility, it can be very difficult to eradicate them. Mechanical slicers pose cross-contamination risks in delicatessens. Reducing Listeria contamination of these products in delis will likely reduce Listeria illnesses and outbreaks. Good slicer cleaning practices can reduce this risk. CDC's Environmental Health … [Read more...]

CDC Lab Worker Acquired Salmonella Infection at Work

A laboratory worker at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acquired a Salmonella infection at work. Scientists and researchers at BSL-2 laboratories, where this incident occurred, work with "common and treatable causes of illness." Preliminary tests indicate that the worker was infected with a strain of Salmonella which matched the strain being worked on at the lab. [Editor's humorous side note: I am not saying that this is how this infection occurred, but this incident reminds me of television shows that show characters eating and drinking in laboratories. One of the first things my microbiology professor at college told us is that you never drink or eat in a lab. Ever.] The workers is now recovered and back at work at the CDC. No other staff were exposed, based on … [Read more...]

PulseNet Prevents 276,000 Food Poisoning Cases a Year

PulseNet, a network coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has prevented about 276,000 cases of food poisoning in the U.S. every year, according to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Every time there is an outbreak, we mention this organization, which matches DNA of pathogenic bacteria to any illnesses in its database. PulseNet began 20 years ago, linking public health labs in this country so details about E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks can be shared quickly. The illnesses this organization has prevented could have cost the U.S. $507 million in medical bills and lost productivity. The study was conducted by Dr. Robert L. Scharff, Dr. John Besser, Dr. Donald Sharp, Dr. Timothy F. … [Read more...]

Mycobacterium bovis Tuberculosis May be Spread Through the Air

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a paper published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that brings up a possible risk for people who consume imported raw milk products or who eat raw milk products while in other countries. Mycobacterium bovis, a zoonotic pathogen of cattle, causes tuberculosis in people who eat unpasteurized contaminated dairy products in or imported from countries with affected cattle herds. That's bad enough, but scientists now believe that this illness can be transmitted person-to-person through the air. This investigation strengthens the evidence for person-to-person airborne transmission of M. bovis infections. In April 2014, a man in Nebraska who was born in Mexico was diagnosed with extensive pulmonary tuberculosis caused by M. … [Read more...]

CDC: Salmonella in Alfalfa Spouts Sickens 13 in 4 States

A Salmonella outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts has sickened at least 13 people in four states, according to  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Five people have been hospitalized. Health officials have linked the illnesses to alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms has recalled lot 042016 voluntarily, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. State and federal health officials  advise consumers not to eat and retailers not to sell or serve alfalfa sprouts from Sweetwater Farms. Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, which include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that can be bloody, usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure and last about a week. For some people the diarrhea and vomiting can be so severe it causes dehydration, and … [Read more...]

Dole Salads, 4 Listeria Recalls, in 4 Years and 1 for Salmonella

Since 2012, salads made by Dole have been recalled for Listeria four times and for Salmonella once. The current recall, for all salads with product codes beginning with the letter “A”, sold under the following names: Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar, and President’s Choice. The letter "A' in the product code currently indicates that the salads were made at the company's plant in Springfield, Ohio which has been closed for two weeks. Tests performed in November 2015 by the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Consumer Protection Laboratory, confirmed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in a bag of salad produced at the plant. The Public Health Agency of Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have performed tests confirming that the strain in … [Read more...]

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