Oysters contaminated with viral norovirus RNA in France

Following calls from RASFF and the Ministry of Health, the Dicastery once again issued a warning to recall the concealed oysters (Crassostrea gigas) bred in France contaminated by the Norovirus Genogroup GI marketed under the GISA brand SRL. The warning came from France, the country of origin of the molluscs, and came to Italy via the Rasff system, which sees the risk as serious.

 The new reference concerns many oysters, GTO 4024, packed by GISA SRL in the Anzio (RM) plant via Colle Cocchino 1 3 / A, in 3 kg boxes. The most aggressive virus under attack is Norovirus. Pathogen for which there is currently no vaccine.

We’re still all hosts on a viral planet: How Norovirus infection gets its start

Norovirus — the highly contagious gastrointestinal illness best known for spreading rapidly on cruise chips, in nursing homes, schools and other densely populated spaces — kills an estimated 200,000 people annually, mostly in the developing world. There’s no treatment or vaccine to prevent the illness, and scientists have understood little about how the infection gets started.

Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown, in mice, that the virus infects a rare type of intestinal cell called a tuft cell, so named because each cell sports a cluster of hairlike extensions on its surface. While tuft cells are few in number, the scientists’ findings indicate that once the virus strikes, such cells multiply the virus quickly and set off severe infections.

The research, published April 12 in Science, suggests that targeting tuft cells with a vaccine or a drug may be a viable strategy for preventing or treating norovirus infections.

“Norovirus is one of the deadliest human pathogens that we know the least about,” said first author Craig B. Wilen, MD, PhD, an instructor in pathology and immunology. “Of the viruses worldwide for which there are no antiviral drugs or vaccines, norovirus arguably kills the most people. This study provides a therapeutic avenue to explore.

Norovirus causes severe vomiting and diarrhea that can develop suddenly. The virus is shed in the feces and vomit — sometimes for months after symptoms resolve — and spreads through people-to-people contact, by touching contaminated surfaces and then the mouth, or eating food contaminated with the virus.

Human norovirus can’t be grown easily in a lab, and for this reason, the researchers choose to study it in mice.

“We were most surprised that the virus infects such a rare cell type and that even with so few cells infected, the infections can be intense and easily transmitted,”Wilen said. “In a single mouse, for example, maybe 100 cells will be infected, which is very few compared with other viruses such as the flu.”

Tuft cells are a type of epithelial cell that protrudes into the intestine. They also are known to detect parasitic and worm infections in the gut and trigger an immune response. Such infections can make norovirus infections worse and may explain why people in the developing world – where intestinal parasites and worm infections are more common – also are more likely to die of norovirus.

But, until now, scientists didn’t understand how norovirus could be linked to intestinal parasite and worm infections. The new study indicates that such infections in the mice cause the number of tuft cells to increase by five- to tenfold, leading the norovirus to replicate more efficiently.

Treating the mice with a powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic cocktail decreased the number of tuft cells and the risk of norovirus infection. But, Wilen cautioned, the antibiotics used in the study would not be practical to give to patients because they would deplete gut microbes that keep the body healthy. Still, the finding points to gut bacteria’s role in facilitating norovirus infection.

The researchers, including Herbert W. “Skip” Virgin, MD, PhD, now at Vir Biotechnology, also noted that noroviruses tucked inside tuft cells are effectively hidden from the immune system, which could explain why some people continue to shed virus long after they are no longer sick. These “healthy carriers” are thought to be the source of norovirus outbreaks, so understanding how the virus evades detection in such people could lead to better ways to prevent outbreaks.

“This raises important questions about whether human norovirus infects tuft cells and whether people who have chronic norovirus infections and continue to shed the virus long after infection do so because the virus remains hidden in tuft cells,” Wilen said. “If that’s the case, targeting tuft cells may be an important strategy to eradicate the virus.”

How Norovirus infection gets its start

12.apr.18

Washington University School of Medicine

Wilen CB, Lee S, Hsieh L-Y, Orchard RC, Desai C, Hykes Jr. BL, McAllaster MR, Balce DR, Feehley T, Brestoff JR, Hickey CA, Yokoyama CC, Wang Y-T, MacDuff DA, Kreamalmayer D, Howitt MR, Neil JA, Cadwell K, Allen PM, Handley SA, van Lookeren Campagne M, Baldridge MT and Virgin HW

https://www.brightsurf.com/news/article/041218454105/how-highly-contagious-norovirus-infection-gets-its-start.html

Almost 2100 sickened: Noro in dried seaweed in Japan, 2017

Seven foodborne norovirus outbreaks attributable to the GII.P17-GII.17 strain were reported across Japan in 2017, causing illness in a total of 2,094 persons. Nori (dried shredded seaweed) was implicated in all outbreaks and tested positive for norovirus. Our data highlight the stability of norovirus in dehydrated food products.

Foodborne outbreaks caused by human norovirus GII.P17-GII.17-contaminated Nori, Japan, 2017

Emerging Infections Diseases, Volume 24, Issue 5, May 2018,  https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2405.171733

Naomi Sakon, Kenji Sadamasu, Takayuki Shinkai, Yousuke Hamajima, Hideaki Yoshitomi, Yuki Matsushima, Rika Takada, Fumio Terasoma, Asako Nakamura, Jun Komano, Koo Nagasawa, Hideaki Shimizu, Kazuhiko Katayama, and Hirokazu Kimura

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/24/5/17-1733_article

 

Celebrity chefs suck: UK Masterchef winner’s Mexican restraint chain Wahaca loses almost £5 Million after outbreak of noro hit staff and customers forced nine branches to close

This Is Money reports Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca has plunged into a £4.7m loss, blaming a norovirus outbreak which forced it to close nine restaurants.

The chain, which was founded by 2005 MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers, said sinking into the red was partly due to one-off costs of £700,000, which sent profits down from £600,000 a year earlier. Around 160 customers and a quarter of Wahaca’s staff were taken ill in October 2016 after it was hit by an ‘unprecedented’ outbreak of Norovirus.  

In all 18 of the 25 restaurants were hit and 11 including Canary Wharf, Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, Soho and White City, all in London, had to close. 

Wahaca co-founder Mark Selby later admitted it ‘changed the way they did business’.

He said July last year: ‘We’ve had to make some tough calls with our suppliers. We’ve had to say, we have to have absolute visibility or we can’t work with you.
At one stage we thought we were going to have to close every restaurant for four weeks,’ says Selby. ‘During that time sales plummeted 45 per cent, but if I’d had to close all sites, I don’t see how we would have survived.’ 

Selby got together with Thomasina Miers, the 2005 winner of the BBC’s MasterChef series, and together they opened the first Wahaca in Covent Garden in 2007.

Another worry for the chain is immigration post-Brexit. Only a quarter of Wahaca’s 1,200 staff are British. 

Selby said: ‘[We] opened in Chichester and found it really hard to find staff to work there, even in management.’  

Raw is risky: At least 40 sick linked to 2 Canadian oyster farms

Two B.C. Vancouver Island oyster farms have been closed following an outbreak of norovirus associated with eating the raw shellfish.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says about 40 cases of acute gastrointestinal illness have been connected to the consumption of raw oysters since March. Testing has confirmed some of the cases were norovirus.

Federal officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) confirmed the affected farms are located on the east coast of Vancouver Island at Deep Bay and Denman Island.

While the two farms are no longer harvesting oysters for consumption, no recall of oysters has been issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

While the precise sources of contamination have not been identified, human sewage in the marine environment is currently believed to be the most plausible cause of shellfish contamination, according to BCCDC epidemiologist Marsha Taylor.

In late 2016 and early 2017, more than 400 norovirus cases associated with raw or undercooked B.C. oysters led to the closure of 13 farms.

The outbreak was declared over in April 2017. Human sewage was also suspected as the cause.

In order to kill norovirus and other pathogens, the BCCDC recommends consumers cook oysters thoroughly, to an internal temperature of 90 C for 90 seconds. Consumption of raw oysters is not encouraged.

Use a tip sensitive thermometer and stick it in.

And stop eating raw: It’s just a put on.

(The video is from The Who’s farewell concert in Toronto in 1982, which I watched in my girlfriend’s residence in 1982 at uni, but they’re still around to make a buck, just like food hacks. At least Towsend had tales to tell)

Blame the consumer, cruise edition

‘The simple fact is that if people washed their hands, there would be no norovirus,’ that’s what Royal Caribbean CEO Michael Bayley said in an  interview in Business Insider published this week.

Nope. It’s not that simple. Handwashing is a factor, but so is showing up ill, so is how surfaces are cleaned and sanitized (and with what compound). Norovirus isn’t just a handwashing or cruise patron problem. And if it was, and  was so simple we wouldn’t see 20 million + illness annually in the U.S.

The article has another gem, 

But personal hygiene isn’t always enough, according to Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. In addition to physical contact, the illness can also spread from an infected person’s respiratory system, which means that simply breathing the same air as an infected person can leave you vulnerable.

Huh? The virus can be aerosolized and then deposited on surfaces dozens of feet away from a vomit event – but it’s not a respiratory illness.

Over 20 affected by outbreak of stomach virus in Norway

The Norwegian Tourist Association (DNT) reported on Sunday that cases of a contagious stomach virus have broken out at some cabins at Hardangervidda. A total of 23 people were affected, reported the association

“It’s a hard problem when our people at our cabins get sick. We do our best to take care of them,” said Henning Hoff Wikborg, CEO of DNT Oslo and Omegn in a press release on Sunday.

Those who are ill have been isolated in their own room, and have access to their own toilet, or have been transported and accommodated in hotels, according to Wikborg.

 

114 sick: Norovirus at Vermont restaurant

From Norway to Vermont, Norovirus can strike anywhere, including the Windjammer Restaurant in South Burlington, Vt.

Health officials now say 114 cases can be tied to the South Burlington restaurant. They say 108 people got sick by eating there. The other six fell ill by coming into contact with someone who ate at the restaurant.

The Vermont Department of Health says it is hearing about more cases but they happened prior to the restaurant closing down last Friday.

The eatery reopened Sunday.

Probably noro: Over 20 people affected by outbreak of stomach virus in Norway

The Norwegian Tourist Association (DNT) reported on Sunday that 23 people were affected by a stomach virus at Hardangervidda. The sick have been isolated from other patients.

The Norwegian Tourist Association (DNT) reported on Sunday that cases of a contagious stomach virus have broken out at some cabins at Hardangervidda. A total of 23 people were affected, reported the association

“It’s a hard problem when our people at our cabins get sick. We do our best to take care of them,” said Henning Hoff Wikborg, CEO of DNT Oslo and Omegn in a press release on Sunday.

Those who are ill have been isolated in their own room, and have access to their own toilet, or have been transported and accommodated in hotels, according to Wikborg.

Hordaland Red Cross have taken 15 people from Hardangervidda, and the municipality in Eidfjord fears an outbreak of ‘norovirus’, wrote Bergens Tidende newspaper on Sunday. Symptoms of the stomach virus are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

Toilets’ water tanks confirmed to have caused norovirus in Pyeongchang

South Korea’s public health authorities have confirmed that the “water tanks of portable toilets” were the reason behind an outbreak of norovirus at the host city of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics that affected around 300 security personnel for the event last month. 

The authorities announced Sunday that the water tanks of mobile toilets were what caused the norovirus infection as a result of its epidemiological investigation of Horeb Youth Camp Center and other related facilities. According to the investigation, the genotype of the virus detected in water tanks was matched with those of patients. There had been around 570 portable lavatories set up during the Olympic period and ironically, water used to wash hands or brush teeth before leaving a toilet for the sake of hygiene was the culprit of infection.

In Indonesia, an elementary school teacher in Cempedak Lobang village, North Sumatra, appears to have escaped severe punishment, despite forcing one of her students to engage in a revolting punishment that could have easily endangered his health.

Last week, the parents of a student, identified by his initials MB, complained about their kid’s teacher, a woman with the initials RM, who subjected their son to needlessly vile corporal punishment simply because he didn’t bring his homework to school.

“My son was told to lick the toilet 12 times. But after four licks, he vomited,” said SH, MB’s mother, as quoted by Kompas yesterday.

(Considering the state of the toilet as shown in the picture below, it’s surprising that MB managed to get in any licks before throwing up…)