December 9, 2016

Via Christi Hospital Cases Brought Blue Bell Outbreak to Light

Three months have passed since Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas, stopped serving all types of Blue Bell ice cream at the direction of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). The step coincided with a major breakthrough in a festering outbreak of listeriosis that Kansas tied to Blue Bell creameries in Texas and Oklahoma. As first described March 13 in a national Listeria announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), five patients at the hospital who arrived there for unrelated problems developed invasive listeriosis and three of them died.  Illness onset dates for the five patients ranged from January 2014 through January 2015 and a national database showed highly related strains of Listeria monocytogenes on file in Listeria … [Read more...]

Blue Bell Listeria Agreements Require Ice Cream ‘Test and Hold’

Listeria patients who were treated at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita as part of the Blue Bell ice cream outbreak, and hospital officials themselves, may be interested to hear that Blue Bell will be prohibited from distributing future products until sampling tests indicate that the ice cream is safe. The so-called "test-and-hold'' method is mandated under an agreement between Blue Bell's CEO Paul Kruse and the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Listeria agreement lays out conditions under which Blue Bell's ice cream facilities in Brenham will be allowed to resume production after a massive ice cream Listeria recall and shutdown of commercial manufacturing. A separate but similar agreement will apply the same standard to Blue Bell's plant in Broken Arrow, … [Read more...]

Food Safety Flaws Noted at Blue Bell’s Texas Ice Cream Plant

The Blue Bell ice cream plant associated with the highly publicized Kansas Listeria outbreak exhibited multiple food safety flaws noted by a group of 11 FDA inspectors who visited the facility during the last half of April. According to the report of inspectional observations by the group, the Blue Bell plant continued to manufacture ice cream products for several days after the company's own sampling found Listeria monocytogenes around a drain that was not in direct contact with food. And by then, the Texas Department of State Health Services had notified Blue Bell that Listeria monocytogenes had been found in products from the plant. The company itself confirmed Listeria findings in its Great Divide Bar and Chocolate Chip Country Cookie, the report said. One of the observations made … [Read more...]

Hospital Listeriosis Outbreaks Deadly and Difficult to Detect

Hospital listeriosis outbreaks, such as the one in Kansas linked to Blue Bell ice cream, can be difficult to detect and especially dangerous because 90 percent of Listeria-related illnesses fall on expecting mothers, infants, seniors and others who are immuno-suppressed. In 2010, a determined group of epidemiologists at the Texas State Department of Health Services launched an investigation into a puzzling outbreak that killed five hospital patients over a period of seven months at various hospitals in the central portion of the state. The team wrote about their work in the Oxford Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases, raising questions about why hospitals don't do more to protect vulnerable patients from food poisoning. The same agency recently helped to confirm that Blue Bell ice … [Read more...]

Scientists Scrutinize DNA In Blue Bell Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak

Listeria surveillance in the deadly Blue Bell ice cream food poisoning outbreak has advanced to include Whole Genome Sequencing, a tool for examining the DNA code of human pathogens that is second to none in accuracy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Whole Genome Sequencing, or WGS, of the Listeria monocytogenes isolates obtained from Blue Bell ice cream by Texas health officials was set in progress earlier this month. Kansas Blue Bell lawsuits on behalf of  victims seeking compensation for their illnesses undoubtedly will incorporate the results, as will state and federal epidemiologists who are trying to get an accurate picture of how many people outside Kansas were infected. As explained in a CDC You Tube video, WGS provides the most detailed look … [Read more...]

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