February 25, 2020

Outbreaks Associated with Drinking Water in the U.S.

Those of us in the United States tend to think of illnesses caused by drinking water as a third world problem. But believe it or not, people in the United States are getting sick after consuming water from public treated systems. The MMWR news synopsis for September 5, 2013 reports that  contamination of untreated ground water in public water systems and private wells, Legionella in building plumbing systems, and deficiencies in the public drinking water infrastructure are all causes of illness. The number of outbreaks in the federally regulated portions of public water systems has declined. But when these outbreaks occur, they sicken many people because so many use water from the tap. During 2009-2010, the latest year for which finalized numbers are available, there were 33 … [Read more...]

New Twitter App Tracks Foodborne Illness Outbreaks in Chicago

We've told you before about apps that can help keep you safe from food poisoning, and how Twitter may be playing a role in foodborne illess outbreak investigations. Now a company in Chicago has created a new Twitter app called Foodborne Chicago. The project is part of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, an organization "devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology." The app asks people who think they contracted food poisoning at a restaurant to fill out a form, which is sent to the Chicago Department of Public Health. The app also uses computer codes to search Twitter for anything relating to food poisoning in the Chicago area. People review the tweets and reply back to people who posted about them, asking them to fill out the web form. The form asks which restaurant the person … [Read more...]

Florida Passes Bill Prohibiting Required Paid Employee Sick Leave

In a blow to food safety in restaurants, Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott signed HB 655 that takes effect July 1, 2013. The law bans local governments from requiring that companies give employees paid sick time. As Food Poisoning Bulletin has told you before, lack of paid sick leave can cause food poisoning outbreaks. While states do have laws requiring that sick employees do not handle food, many workers will come to work anyway because they need the money. Restaurant employees are usually paid low wages and receive almost no benefits. And a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that ill food handlers are to blame for most norovirus outbreaks in this country and 65% of the food poisoning outbreaks at restaurants. In just the last month, foodborne illness … [Read more...]

CSPI Releases List of Risky Meat

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has released a list of meat and poultry products that have the greatest risk of causing foodborne illness outbreaks. They studied 12 years of outbreaks from meat and poultry that occurred in the U.S. from 1998 to 2010. Only illnesses linked to outbreaks that were definitively attributed to meat or poultry product were used in the analysis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that 48 million Americans contract some sort of foodborne illness every year, but most are not known because they are either "sporadic", not linked to an outbreak, or are not diagnosed or reported to public health officials. The vast majority of foodborne illnesses don't require medical attention. And of the illnesses that do require medical … [Read more...]

FoodNet Surveillance Shows Increase in Campylobacter and Vibrio Infections

In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released numbers of the incidence and trends of infection of foodborne illness pathogens from 1996 to 2012. The report, called the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), shows that for 2012, a total of 19,531 infections, 4,563 hospitalizations, and 68 deaths associated with foodborne disease were reported. (These are the illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths that were confirmed linked to a certain food. Most foodborne illness cases are unreported to the government.) FoodNet conducts active, population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed infections caused by Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli … [Read more...]

E. coli Outbreak May be Associated with Farm Rich Products Mini Meals and Snacks

An outbreak of E. coli 0121 has been associated with recalled Farm Rich Products mini meals and snacks. According to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), there is a multistate outbreak of the bacteria that includes 24 people in 15 states. So far, eight of the patients sickened by the bacteria in Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia report consuming Farm Rich products. You can see the complete list of recalled products at the USDA web site, along with label photos. The New York Department of Health found the outbreak strain of the bacteria in a Farm Rich frozen chicken mini quesadilla from a patient in that state. The CDC has not released any information about this investigation yet. E. coli 0121 can produce Shiga toxin, which can … [Read more...]

When Good Food Goes Bad: The Recommendations

The Center for Biosecurity of UPMC has developed a report on strengthening the U.S. response to foodborne illness outbreaks. Since 40,000,000 people in this country get sick from foodborne contaminants every year, causing 128,000 hospitalizations and more than 3,000 deaths, some improvement to the current system is warranted. For the first part of this story, see When Good Food Goes Bad: The Problems. After detailing ten major issues with the current foodborne illness prevention and surveillance system, the authors have developed five recommendations. First, they say that the government should fund the development of next-generation technologies for rapidly diagnosing foodborne illness. Those tools need to incorporate culturing pathogens so that facilities such as PulseNET can keep … [Read more...]

Alaska Campylobacter Raw Milk Outbreak Now at 18 Patients

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has issued a new health advisory update into the Campylobacter outbreak associated with the consumption of raw milk.  The notice states that some of the patients have had recurrent illnesses and two needed to be hospitalized. At least one secondary case, an infant, became ill after having "close contact" with a laboratory confirmed case. The Alaska Section of Epidemiology is contacting people who have received or consumed raw milk from the farm involved. Public health officials expect that the number of probably and confirmed cases will rise. All of the cases have been linked to consumption of raw milk from a farm on the Kenai Peninsula that operates a cow-share program, where people buy "shares" in a cow and then receive the milk. The … [Read more...]

Did CDC Food Poisoning Study Give Produce A Bum Rap?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study of 11 years of food poisoning outbreaks this week. The report claims that produce in general and leafy greens in particular cause more food poisoning outbreaks than other foods. But did the CDC give veggies a bum rap? On Tuesday, the CDC issued an early release of a report appearing in the March 2013 edition of Emerging Infectious Disease entitled: “Attribution of Foodborne Illnesses, Hospitalizations, and Deaths to Food Commodities by using Outbreak Data, United States, 1998–2008.”  The study looked at foodborne illness outbreaks from 1998–2008. Of the 13,352 food poisoning outbreaks that occurred during this time, the specific food source was only identified in 37 percent of them or 4,887 outbreaks. These were … [Read more...]

New Strain of Norovirus Appears in U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that a new strain of norovirus called GII.4 Sydney has appeared in the United States. Norovirus is the leading cause of epidemic gastroenteritis in this country. Those who develop serious complications from the disease are young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. In the past ten years, new GII.4 strains have emerged every two to three years, replacing older strains. When these new strains appear there is usually increased outbreak activity. GII.4 Sydney has caused 53% of the norovirus outbreaks reported in September-December 2012 through CaliciNet, an electronic laboratory surveillance network. Scientists believe the virus originated in Australia and was first detected there in March … [Read more...]

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