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Two E. coli cases linked to livestock close Washington school

Two young Washington state girls are hospitalized with complications from E. coli infection and their school has been temporarily closed for cleaning. One of the girls has reportedly developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious kidney condition linked to E. coli infection.

Health officials said the source of their exposure to Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) bacteria was probably not food but contact with animals.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-petting-zoo-image1008725

Contact with livestock can be a source of E. coli infection. (Photo illustration)

“The exact source of contamination in E. coli can be very difficult to identify, but at this point we believe the children were likely exposed to livestock near their home,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director of the Snohomish Health District.

A health district Facebook posting indicated that, “… based on our Communicable Disease team’s initial investigation and interviews with family, we do not believe this was caused by a food source.”

The Monroe Montessori School in Monroe, WA, was temporarily closed on Wednesday, and nobody answered the phone there on Thursday. Approximately 60 students and staff members were said to have potentially been exposed to the bacteria and were being tested for the infection.

A health district statement issued Wednesday noted that the school “has temporarily closed for disinfecting as a precaution,” and that the school, the district, the Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Department of Early Learning were coordinating on the E. coli testing.

Contact with livestock in a rural area, a farm, or a petting zoo are common sources of E. coli bacteria. An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infection last year in Washington state was traced to a fairgrounds dairy barn in Lynden, WA. That outbreak sickened 25 people, mostly young children, and hospitalized 10 of them.

Symptoms of STEC infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is less than 101 degrees F. Most people get better within five to seven days as infections can be mild, but others can be severe or even life-threatening.

Young children and the elderly are more likely to experience serious illness. People with weakened immune systems, including pregnant women, are also at risk for serious illness.

Between 5 and 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli O157 infection develop the potentially life-threatening complication of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Clues that a person is developing HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids.

People with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems. Most people who develop HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die.

Handwashing is the most effective way to reduce chances of getting sick. Adults should supervise young children to make sure they don’t put their hands in their mouths and make sure that their hands are washed thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom.

The spread of illnesses from animals, such as those caused by E. coli, are commonly linked to hand-to-mouth contact. It is also important to avoid swallowing water when swimming and playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.

More information about STEC and other types of E. coli can be found here.

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Food Safety News

Hawaii Hepatitis A cases up to 74; vaccine being redistributed

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has updated to 74 its confirmed case count in the ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak, which is an increase of 22 new cases since the department’s previous update last week.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-person-receiving-vaccine-close-up-vaccination-protection-image34491574All of the sickened individuals are Oahu residents, DOH noted, except for two people who live on the islands of Hawaii and Maui but were on Oahu during their exposure period.

Twenty-six of the 74 people have been hospitalized. Onset of the illnesses ranges from June 12 to July 14.

DOH is calling the following two local businesses “places of interest” because an employee at each of them has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A infection:

  • Baskin-Robbins at Waikele Center, where possible exposure dates were June 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30 and July 1 and 3, and,
  • Taco Bell at 94-790 Ukee St. in Waipio, where possible exposure dates were June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30 and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 11.

Department officials cautioned that this doesn’t indicate that these businesses are sources of the outbreak, and that no Hepatitis A infections have so far been linked to exposure at the two businesses.

“The likelihood that patrons of these businesses will become infected is very low,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park, adding, “However, persons who have consumed food or drink products from these businesses during the identified dates of service should contact their healthcare provider for advice and possible preventive care.”

“Identifying the source of infection continues to be a challenge because of the long incubation period of the disease and the difficulty patients have in accurately recalling the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place,” according to a DOH website page about the outbreak.

Meanwhile, some pharmacies on Oahu have apparently run low on supplies of the Hepatitis A vaccine and are either having to redistribute on the island or get additional supplies from the mainland.

“What we’re telling people is that we have a list on our website of vaccinating pharmacies and to call before they go in because some pharmacies might be temporarily out but have requested or ordered more,” said Gail Ogawa, a public health educator with DOH in Honolulu.

A single dose of single-antigen Hepatitis A vaccine, or immune globulin, may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure. A list of frequently asked questions about Hepatitis A can be found here.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes, and symptoms typically last several weeks to as long as two months. Most people will recover without complications.

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Food Safety News

Survey shows increase in resistance to drug therapies among bovine respiratory disease cases

June 28, 2013 — A survey of records of bovine respiratory disease cases at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory showed that drug resistance in one of the primary pathogens that cause BRD, Mannheimia haemolytica, increased over a three-year period.

“We have been seeing an increase in the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria that cause pneumonia (also called BRD) in cattle,” said Brian Lubbers, assistant professor in the diagnostic lab, based at Kansas State University. “Many of these bacteria are resistant to, not one, but almost all of the antibiotics that we use to treat pneumonia in cattle.”

BRD is one of the most important diseases of feedlot cattle, particularly, said Lubbers, adding that the economic toll from the disease has been estimated to approach $ 1 billion annually in the United States alone, if one takes into account drug and labor costs, decreased production, and animal death losses.

Until now, one of the aspects that has not been studied very well is the cost linked to antimicrobial resistance in BRD cases, he said. To take a closer look, he and colleague Gregg Hanzlicek, also an assistant professor in the diagnostic lab, examined records of cases in which specimens of bovine lung tissue were submitted to the diagnostic lab over the three years, 2009 to 2011. Most of the cattle were from Kansas and Nebraska.

They found that over that period, a high percentage of M. haemolytica bacteria recovered from cattle lungs were resistant to several of the drugs typically used to treat that pathogen. The researchers also found, however, that no specimens were resistant to all six antimicrobial drugs.

The study was funded internally by the diagnostic lab.

Using resistance to three or more antimicrobials as the definition of multi-drug resistance, 63 percent of the bacteria would be classified as multidrug resistant in 2011, compared with 46 percent in 2010 and 42 percent in 2009.

The results of the study were published by the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation.

“Antimicrobial resistance in veterinary medicine has received a considerable amount of recognition as a potential factor leading to antimicrobial resistance in human medicine,” Lubbers said. “However, the contribution of multidrug resistance to limited or failed therapy in veterinary patients has received much less attention.”

Because there are a limited number of antimicrobial drugs that can be used for treatment of BRD pathogens, Lubbers said, multidrug resistance in those pathogens poses a severe threat to the livestock industry.

“We (KSVDL) consider this type of information to be part of our active ongoing disease surveillance and will continue this work,” Lubbers said. “The questions of how these bacteria develop or where they come from, how widespread they are, and what is the impact on cattle production are still unanswered. We are actively seeking industry partners to investigate these questions.”

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

NJ Health Officials Confirm 2 More Hepatitis A Cases

On Thursday, health officials in Hamilton, NJ, confirmed two more cases of Hepatitis A in the township about a month after a food service worker at Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering in Hamilton first became infected with the virus.

Health officials said that an employee of the Hair Port Salon in Hamilton had been diagnosed with Hepatitis A infection. The employee has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home, they added.

Staff and customers who visited the salon between Dec. 4 and Dec. 30 may be at risk of contracting the virus and should be vaccinated if they have not already done so, officials said.

Hepatitis A was also confirmed Thursday in a fitness instructor at a Hamilton-area YMCA. The instructor is recovering at home, official said.

Anyone who visited any of those locations between Dec. 5 and Dec. 29 may be at risk.

Officials confirmed during routine questioning that both individuals had eaten at, or from, Rosa’s during the first illnesses, but they were not certain that the subsequent cases were related.

They planned to hold a press conference Friday at 2 p.m. EST at the HamStat Call Center Training Room at 5 Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Way in Hamilton to provide information and answer questions from the community and the media.

Health officials urged anyone with concerns or who develops symptoms to call a doctor. The symptoms of Hepatitis A infection include mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dark urine and yellowing of the skin or eyes.

The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks.

Food Safety News

WP Rawl donates 500 cases of fresh produce to Harvest Hope

This Christmas, WP Rawl made the holidays a little merrier for families serviced by Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, SC, through a donation of fresh produce to the local food bank.

Fresh produce is oftentimes hard to come by or absent in food banks across the country, in particular during the holidays. WP Rawl donated 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce to Harvest Hope, which included apples, oranges, regular and sweet potatoes, celery and onion mix, collards, butternut squash, cabbage, squash and zucchini.DSC 0912Over the holidays WP Rawl helped families in need with a donation of 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce.

“This donation of packed fruits and vegetables for our clients during the Christmas season is such a thoughtful and generous gift; these boxes will be used throughout our Emergency Food Pantries and Mobile Food Pantries,” Denise Holland, Harvest Hope Food Bank chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Having fresh fruit and vegetables is very important to our clients at this time of year and some have little to no access to it otherwise. I am so thankful for the support from WP Rawl for their help in providing delicious, fresh produce to struggling families in our community.”

The donation is one of several ways that WP Rawl assists Harvest Hope throughout the year. This summer, the local leafy greens grower and shipper hosted the Katie’s Krops Camp at their headquarters in Pelion, SC, which included a service project at the food bank. For the project, the campers built a raised bed-vegetable garden with 12 beds and various types of vegetables per bed, which is meant to serve as a sustainable source of fresh produce for Harvest Hope. WP Rawl hopes that this holiday donation will supplement the vegetables they are already growing on site. The donation was made in honor of all of WP Rawl’s customers and employees as a thank you for their support.

“As a family and as a company, it is important to us to share with our global and local communities,” Ashley Rawl, vice president of sales, marketing and product development at WP Rawl, said in the press release. “It is so satisfying to see that the Harvest Hope staff and volunteers have enjoyed maintaining the raised beds that the Katie’s Krops campers built this summer and we are happy to continue to help them in various ways throughout the year.”

WP Rawl’s year-long mission to end hunger leads them to give back to other organizations such as RAMP, the Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project and Katie’s Krops.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

WP Rawl donates 500 cases of fresh produce to Harvest Hope

This Christmas, WP Rawl made the holidays a little merrier for families serviced by Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, SC, through a donation of fresh produce to the local food bank.

Fresh produce is oftentimes hard to come by or absent in food banks across the country, in particular during the holidays. WP Rawl donated 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce to Harvest Hope, which included apples, oranges, regular and sweet potatoes, celery and onion mix, collards, butternut squash, cabbage, squash and zucchini.DSC 0912Over the holidays WP Rawl helped families in need with a donation of 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce.

“This donation of packed fruits and vegetables for our clients during the Christmas season is such a thoughtful and generous gift; these boxes will be used throughout our Emergency Food Pantries and Mobile Food Pantries,” Denise Holland, Harvest Hope Food Bank chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Having fresh fruit and vegetables is very important to our clients at this time of year and some have little to no access to it otherwise. I am so thankful for the support from WP Rawl for their help in providing delicious, fresh produce to struggling families in our community.”

The donation is one of several ways that WP Rawl assists Harvest Hope throughout the year. This summer, the local leafy greens grower and shipper hosted the Katie’s Krops Camp at their headquarters in Pelion, SC, which included a service project at the food bank. For the project, the campers built a raised bed-vegetable garden with 12 beds and various types of vegetables per bed, which is meant to serve as a sustainable source of fresh produce for Harvest Hope. WP Rawl hopes that this holiday donation will supplement the vegetables they are already growing on site. The donation was made in honor of all of WP Rawl’s customers and employees as a thank you for their support.

“As a family and as a company, it is important to us to share with our global and local communities,” Ashley Rawl, vice president of sales, marketing and product development at WP Rawl, said in the press release. “It is so satisfying to see that the Harvest Hope staff and volunteers have enjoyed maintaining the raised beds that the Katie’s Krops campers built this summer and we are happy to continue to help them in various ways throughout the year.”

WP Rawl’s year-long mission to end hunger leads them to give back to other organizations such as RAMP, the Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project and Katie’s Krops.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

19 Recent Salmonella Cases Linked to MA Restaurant

State and local health department officials are investigating 19 Salmonella cases linked to a restaurant in Holyoke, MA.

Brian Fitzgerald, Holyoke’s health director, told a local TV station that officials were trying to figure out why people were apparently sickened after eating at the Delaney House in Holyoke between Nov. 11 and 15, 2014.

Investigative reports from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health indicate that 19 confirmed Salmonella cases and additional potential cases were traced back to 10 different events held at the Delaney House.

The restaurant has not been shut down, although the state asked local health officials to order the management to comply with several alleged food code violations.

Five food handlers and one non-food handling employee at the restaurant also tested positive for Salmonella. Some of the infected food handlers reportedly worked at events outside of the Delaney House, including the Log Cabin, a take-out restaurant, and various catered events.

Peter Rosskothen, a co-owner of the restaurant, told local media that the management has cooperated with the investigation and that the problem appeared to be limited to the Nov. 11-15 period.

“We feel awful about this, but I know for a fact that no one has been related to us with this issue since Nov. 15th. I feel really comfortable that whatever came to us left us even before the investigation started,” Rosskothen said. He added that no new cases had been reported since the investigation began.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. It is usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces or by eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs or egg products.

Food Safety News

Two More Cases Added to Hepatitis A Outbreak: 122 Sick in 8 States

The number of confirmed illnesses part of the multistate Hepatitis A outbreak linked to Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxident Berry Blend continues to creep up. On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that there are now 122 confirmed cases, up two cases from the previous day and three more than the agency had confirmed on Monday. This week the outbreak also went from affecting 7 states to affecting 8, Wisconsin being the latest addition.

Arizona has 17 cases, California has 62, Colorado 25, Hawaii 5, New Mexico 5, Nevada 5, Utah 2 and Wisconsin 1, but the exposure in Wisconsin resulted from exposure to the product in California, according to CDC.

Nearly 60 percent of the victims are women. Illnesses onset dates range from the end of March to the middle of June and 45 percent of the reported illnesses have resulted in hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.

 

“Investigation by state and local health departments, FDA, and CDC is ongoing,” according to CDC. “FDA is inspecting the processing facilities of Townsend Farms of Fairview, Oregon.”

The outbreak strain of hepatitis A virus (HAV), belonging to genotype 1B, was found in clinical specimens of 36 people in six states. According to CDC, “this strain is rarely seen in the Americas but circulates in North Africa and the Middle East.”

Hepatitis A is a human disease and usually occurs when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene.  However, food contaminated with HAV, as is suspected in this outbreak, can cause outbreaks of disease among persons who eat or handle food. Anyone concerned about exposure or foodborne illness should contact their health provider or their local health department.

Food Safety News

Nine Salmonella Cases Reported in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating nine cases of Salmonella in Beaufort County.

Several of the cases are laboratory-confirmed and one of the illnesses has reportedly been matched to a national cluster. This single case appears to be separate from the other eight.

There are no other details currently available about the victims or when they became ill.

Health officials are investigating whether the infections have a common source.

Food Safety News

Nine Salmonella Cases Reported in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating nine cases of Salmonella in Beaufort County.

Several of the cases are laboratory-confirmed and one of the illnesses has reportedly been matched to a national cluster. This single case appears to be separate from the other eight.

There are no other details currently available about the victims or when they became ill.

Health officials are investigating whether the infections have a common source.

Food Safety News

Texas Cyclospora Cases Linked to Mexican Cilantro

At least 126 Cyclospora-related illnesses in Texas reported this year have now been traced back to fresh cilantro imported from Mexico, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

State and federal health officials revealed the source of the outbreak at the same time they announced that the outbreak was considered over.

The case count spiked in June and July 2014, but any illness occurring after May 1 was considered part of the outbreak. At least 166 Cyclospora cases have been reported in Texas this year.

Of the outbreak cases, 21 were traced back to four restaurants in North Texas that all carried cilantro sourced from Puebla, Mexico. All 21 of those consumed dishes containing the cilantro.

Officials did not find any samples of cilantro contaminated with Cyclospora, but they said there is strong enough epidemiological evidence to link the illnesses to cilantro.

Last year at this time, 631 people in 25 states — including 270 people in Texas — fell ill in a Cyclospora oubreak also linked to cilantro from Puebla, Mexico, as well as to salad mix from Taylor Farms de Mexico.

Cyclospora is a single-celled parasite that can be found in food or water contaminated by infected feces and often in tropical areas. Symptoms usually appear roughly one week after ingestion and can include watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, stomach cramps and nausea.

Food Safety News

New refrigerated cases enhance retailer strategies

Over the years, energy conservation has been increasingly important to food stores.  At first, the singular goal was to lower energy costs. Recently though, reducing greenhouse gas emissions has become another important objective. To those ends, food stores have exchanged inefficient shaded pole and PSC motors for EC motors, added night curtains to open refrigerated cases, replaced incandescent and fluorescent lamps with LEDs, converted from air-cooled condensers to evaporative, and implemented a host of other measures that have greatly reduced energy use. The resulting savings have generally exceeded expectations, and the paybacks have been rapid.

Still, the industry has been slow to adopt a number of other energy saving strategies that on the surface, would seem to make a great deal of sense. Perhaps the foremost of these is adding glass doors to open refrigerated cases, which figures to reduce the refrigeration load by upwards of 70%. That translates into energy savings of roughly the same magnitude, which is an awful lot of savings.

One must ask then, what is the hesitancy over adding glass doors to open cases? The most frequent objection has been that glass doors reduce sales since customers don’t want to have to open doors to gain access to the food. That, in turn, offsets the gains to be had from lowering energy use. Recent studies, however, have demonstrated that sales reductions are far less than previously thought, and as a result of current case technologies, the energy savings are greater. The pendulum then has swung in favor of adding glass doors.

Today’s refrigerated cases are a marked improvement over previous designs from both a merchandising and efficiency standpoint. Newer cases combine attractive, flexible display space with energy-efficient doors designed for maximum visibility. That allows supermarkets to achieve operational efficiency without compromising sales.

Current case technologies are also very flexible. Grocers can choose from different heights, depths, frames, doors and handles. There are even six-door cases available now, which means fewer electrical connections and floor drains. This translates into lower installation and maintenance costs and increased profits.

A number of new energy features have been incorporated into the current case lines. Despite the large amount of glass, which broadens the line of sight to products, energy use is minimized. That is because:

  • High-tech frames prevent the glass from frosting or fogging, minimizing the need for anti-sweat heater usage.
  • Better insulation maximizes efficiency and protects against condensation.
  • Current frame designs provide exceptional energy-conserving performance.

As a result of these technological and merchandising improvements, today’s supermarkets can achieve maximum energy performance while positively impacting sales.

Supermarket News

Update: At Least 13 E. coli Cases in Minnesota Linked to Traveling Petting Zoo

The Minnesota Department of Health reports that health officials have identified at least 13 people with E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to Zerebko Zoo Tran, a traveling petting zoo that recently visited county fairs there.

Seven people have been hospitalized, including three children. Two of the cases developed a serious complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a kidney disease associated with the most severe E. coli infections. One of those HUS cases is still in the hospital.

The petting zoo was at the following events in the month of July:

  • Nashwauk Fourth of July Festival (7/3-7/5): 1 case
  • Polk County Fair (7/9-7/13): 1 case
  • Rice County Fair (7/15-7/20): 7 cases (including the 2 secondary cases)
  • Olmsted County Fair (7/21-7/27): 3 cases

The health department said it may report additional cases associated with attendance at the recent Olmsted County Fair.

Officials found the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 on fecal and environmental samples collected from the petting zoo.

“The owner has been cooperating in the investigation and voluntarily withheld his animals from the last two county fairs at which he was scheduled to exhibit in August,” a health department news release stated.

“These illnesses are a stark reminder that E. coli O157:H7 can be present in even the cleanest of animal operations,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Joni Scheftel in a news release.

A number of disease outbreaks have been linked to petting zoos in recent years. In 2012, the petting zoo at a county fair in North Carolina was linked to an E. coli outbreak that sickened 106 people and ended in the death of a 2-year-old boy.

Parents are advised to carefully monitor their children when petting farm animals. Children should immediately wash their hands after visiting a petting zoo and should not be given the opportunity to put their hands or fingers in their mouths after touching animals.

Food Safety News

60 Minnesota E. coli Cases Linked to Potato Salad Served at Reservation Events

At least 60 people fell ill with E. coli O157:H7 in July at Minnesota’s Fond du Lac Reservation, apparently after consuming potato salad likely made with a contaminated ingredient, according to the local news outlet Pine Journal.

The infections occurred after three separate events on the reservation, all catered by the same vendor on July 11 and 16. Potato salad was served at two of those events, leading investigators to believe one of the salad’s ingredients caused the outbreak.

The first illness was reported on July 17 and the last on July 20, suggesting that the outbreak is likely over. Given that several weeks have passed since the events, the chance of determining the exact food source of the infections is growing slimmer.

Food Safety News originally reported on this outbreak on July 24, when 22 cases had been confirmed.

Four patients sickened in the outbreak have retained representation from food safety law firm Marler Clark, which underwrites Food Safety News.

Food Safety News

Florida County Issues Health Alert After 58 Cryptosporidium Cases

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County has issued a health alert for the county after 58 cases of a parasitic illness had been reported as of July 29.

Cryptosporidium is a parasite found in contaminated water, and can make people very sick. Symptoms include severe cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

“It really has to do with coming in contact with contaminated fecal matter where this parasite lives,” said the department’s Maggie Hall on Thursday.

Cryptosporidium spreads easily in water, and since half the cases have come from public pools and water parks in Pinellas County, those facilities were alerted, and one was shut down as a precaution.

The disease can also be spread if hands are not washed after toilet use or changing diapers. From there, it can spread to surfaces, toys and food.

The highest rates of Cryptosporidium infection are in those younger than 18. The disease also can affect animals.

Hall suggested the following steps to prevent transmission of the parasite:

  • Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and check diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside as germs can spread to surfaces or objects in and around the pool and spread illness.
  • Shower before entering the water.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after changing diapers.

Food Safety News

Florida County Issues Health Alert After 58 Cryptosporidium Cases

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County has issued a health alert for the county after 58 cases of a parasitic illness had been reported as of July 29.

Cryptosporidium is a parasite found in contaminated water, and can make people very sick. Symptoms include severe cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

“It really has to do with coming in contact with contaminated fecal matter where this parasite lives,” said the department’s Maggie Hall on Thursday.

Cryptosporidium spreads easily in water, and since half the cases have come from public pools and water parks in Pinellas County, those facilities were alerted, and one was shut down as a precaution.

The disease can also be spread if hands are not washed after toilet use or changing diapers. From there, it can spread to surfaces, toys and food.

The highest rates of Cryptosporidium infection are in those younger than 18. The disease also can affect animals.

Hall suggested the following steps to prevent transmission of the parasite:

  • Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and check diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside as germs can spread to surfaces or objects in and around the pool and spread illness.
  • Shower before entering the water.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after changing diapers.

Food Safety News

Cyclospora Outbreak Reaches 202 Cases; More Than Half are in Texas

Just like last summer, illnesses involving prolonged watery diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis are spreading across the country from Texas. Public health officials suspect the parasite is riding into the United States on contaminated fresh produce grown in Mexico for the U.S. market. They just don’t yet know the exact source, where it’s grown, and how it’s being distributed here.

During the past week, the outbreak has expanded by several states, with the number of confirmed cases growing to 202, up from the 61 illnesses reported nationally as recently as July 23.  With 110 illnesses, the Lone Star State accounts for more than half of the nation’s current cases, with illnesses being reported in 29 of the 254 counties in Texas.

“Though a source has yet to be identified, past outbreaks have been traced to fresh imported produce,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said. “DSHS encourages people to wash produce thoroughly, though that may not entirely eliminate the risk because Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off.”

Last summer, a June-peaking national outbreak of Cyclosporiasis ultimately saw 631 people sickened in 25 states. Last year’s Cyclospora outbreak caused some confusion and contention among the state’s investigating it. Iowa and Nebraska thought the infections were caused by bagged mixed salads served by restaurants, while Texas officials named fresh cilantro grown in Puebla, Mexico.

This year, interviews conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have attributed about 25 illnesses to foreign travel. Before last summer, Cyclospora outbreaks from food or water sources in the U.S. have been sporadic since imported raspberries arrived here two decades ago.

Carried by food or water contaminated by feces, the illness is cause by a parasite that’s common in tropical or subtropical counties. The onset of illness typically occurs within two to 14 days after the oocytes are consumed. It results in profuse diarrhea that can last for a couple weeks to several months. Other symptoms are a low-grade fever, nausea and vomiting, bloating and gas, anorexia and fatigue.

Food Safety News

Cyclospora Surge: 125 Cases in 13 States

Federal officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are now stepping in to assist health officials in 13 states in investigating a spike in cases of Cyclosporiasis, according to CIDRAP. Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the parasite Cyclospora.

In total, 125 cases have been reported with no lead on a source.

At least 61 cases have been found in Texas alone. The other states with cases are: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Tennessee.

Officials aren’t yet calling this an outbreak since it is unclear whether all of the cases are related.

Patients are currently being interviewed about international travel, with 19 so far reporting that they had recently traveled internationally, while another 35 had not. Cyclospora is more common in some tropical countries.

Symptoms of Cyclosporiasis include watery, sometimes explosive diarrhea, as well as loss of appetite, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and bloating. If not treated, these symptoms may last anywhere from days to a month or more, with the potential for relapse.

Last year, a Cyclosporiasis outbreak linked to imported salad mix and fresh cilantro sickened 631 people in 25 states.

Previous Cyclosporiasis outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to imported fresh produce such as lettuce, salad mix, snow peas, raspberries, cilantro and basil.

Food Safety News

Cyclospora Surge: 125 Cases in 13 States

Federal officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are now stepping in to assist health officials in 13 states in investigating a spike in cases of Cyclosporiasis, according to CIDRAP. Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the parasite Cyclospora.

In total, 125 cases have been reported with no lead on a source.

At least 61 cases have been found in Texas alone. The other states with cases are: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Tennessee.

Officials aren’t yet calling this an outbreak since it is unclear whether all of the cases are related.

Patients are currently being interviewed about international travel, with 19 so far reporting that they had recently traveled internationally, while another 35 had not. Cyclospora is more common in some tropical countries.

Symptoms of Cyclosporiasis include watery, sometimes explosive diarrhea, as well as loss of appetite, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and bloating. If not treated, these symptoms may last anywhere from days to a month or more, with the potential for relapse.

Last year, a Cyclosporiasis outbreak linked to imported salad mix and fresh cilantro sickened 631 people in 25 states.

Previous Cyclosporiasis outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to imported fresh produce such as lettuce, salad mix, snow peas, raspberries, cilantro and basil.

Food Safety News

Texas Reports Big Spike in Cyclosporiasis Cases

Public health officials in Tarrant County, Texas, which includes the Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington areas, are investigating a sudden surge in Cyclosporiasis, an intestinal infection caused by a parasite that can be ingested via contaminated food or water.

The statewide number of cases hit 61 in the past month, with eight of them being in Tarrant County. This compares with only eight statewide cases of Cyclosporiasis in Texas from January through May of this year.

Officials are advising healthcare providers to watch for and test patients with symptoms such as diarrhea that has lasted more than a few days or diarrhea plus fatigue. Symptoms usually start two days to two weeks after the parasite is ingested, are often accompanied by intestinal pain, and can mimic the stomach flu.

Previous Cyclosporiasis outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to imported fresh produce such as lettuce, salad mix, snow peas, raspberries, cilantro and basil.

“To reduce your risk, we recommend thoroughly washing produce before consumption. Produce that is cooked is not a concern. It’s the raw produce like cilantro and salads that can be a problem,” said Russell Jones, chief epidemiologist for Tarrant County Public Health.

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