Citizen science: Using socks to sample environmental pathogens

This paper introduces a novel method for sampling pathogens in natural environments. It uses fabric boot socks worn over walkers’ shoes to allow the collection of composite samples over large areas. Wide-area sampling is better suited to studies focusing on human exposure to pathogens (e.g., recreational walking).

This sampling method is implemented using a citizen science approach: groups of three walkers wearing boot socks undertook one of six routes, 40 times over 16 months in the North West (NW) and East Anglian (EA) regions of England.

To validate this methodology, we report the successful implementation of this citizen science approach, the observation that Campylobacter bacteria were detected on 47% of boot socks, and the observation that multiple boot socks from individual walks produced consistent results. The findings indicate higher Campylobacter levels in the livestock-dominated NW than in EA (55.8% versus 38.6%). Seasonal differences in the presence of Campylobacter bacteria were found between the regions, with indications of winter peaks in both regions but a spring peak in the NW. The presence of Campylobacter bacteria on boot socks was negatively associated with ambient temperature (P = 0.011) and positively associated with precipitation (P < 0.001), results consistent with our understanding of Campylobacter survival and the probability of material adhering to boot socks. Campylobacter jejuni was the predominant species found; Campylobacter coli was largely restricted to the livestock-dominated NW. Source attribution analysis indicated that the potential source of C. jejuni was predominantly sheep in the NW and wild birds in EA but did not differ between peak and nonpeak periods of human incidence.

Novel sampling method for assessing human-pathogen interactions in the natural environment using boot socks and citizen scientists, with application to campylobacter seasonality

Applied and Environment Microbiology, July 2017, vol. 83, no. 14, Natalia R. Jonesa, Caroline Millmanb, Mike van der Esc, Miroslava Hukelovab, Ken J. Forbesd, Catherine Glovere, Sam Haldenbyf, Paul R. Hunterc, Kathryn Jacksonf, Sarah J. O’Brieng, Dan Rigbyb, Norval J. C. Strachanh, Nicola Williamse, Iain R. Lakea, doi: 10.1128/AEM.00162-17

http://aem.asm.org/content/83/14/e00162-17.abstract?etoc

Tough mudders and cyclists, beware the agri-land: Outbreaks amongst participants in Norway, Scotland

NRK reports that some 50 of 300 participants became sick with Campylobacter in a cycling event in Norway.

Competitors at the start of the 2015 Tough Mudder Scotland at Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries and Galloway

Earlier, several people were stricken by E. coli O157 in a tough mudder event which was held at Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland on June 17 and 18.

These outbreaks follow previous, numerous outbreaks involved with playing in mud.

In Norway, the reason why the cyclists have become so bad is because animal wreckage resolved after a heavy rainfall and remained in the road. This has again sprung up on the cyclists.

“Especially if the stool is fresh and there are large amounts of water, it can sprinkle on drinking bottles and hands so you get it when you drink,” said Tor Halvor Bjørnstad-Tuveng, to NRK (something may be lost in translation).

“We have been in dialogue with the management of the race, and we have some concrete measures that we will look at. We have been very unlucky with the rides of the year, but we must definitely look at what we can do to prevent it happening again, “says Bjørnstad-Tuveng.

Per Stubban was one of those who had to go to the hospital for intravenous nutrition.

“Now I’m on my way, but there have been some tough days. Next time I will not use a handheld drink bottle, but a drinking bag, and if there is as much rain as it was now, I would probably be skeptical to start, “he said.

Participants in an endurance event at a Scottish castle have been warned to look out for symptoms of E. coli O157 after it was identified among those who took part.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said “a small number of cases” of the bacteria have been found in those involved in the Tough Mudder event at Drumlanrig Castle last month.

It has advised anyone associated with the event who experiences symptoms to seek medical advice.

A spokesman for the health board said: “NHS Dumfries and Galloway can confirm that we are aware of a small number of cases of E.coli O157 across Scotland that appear to be associated with participation in the Tough Mudder event which was held at Drumlanrig Castle on June 17 and 18.

“Any activity undertaken on agricultural land inevitably involves a small risk of gastrointestinal infection.”

A spokesman for the event said: “The safety of Tough Mudder participants, spectators, volunteers and staff is our number one priority.

Uh-huh.

UK woman embraces life after Campylobacter infection forces her to wear two stoma bags

Rachel Jury, 30, is determined to show how users can still live life to the full despite the two stoma bags she is forced to wear after food poisoning from cooked chicken nine years ago triggered a long-term health condition.

Tara Russell of the Daily Echo reports Jury’s rare condition, autonomic neuropathy, has left her bowel and bladder both failing and she has endured years of ill health including frequent bouts of sepsis and even cardiac arrest as a result.

However she is grateful to the two bags for saving her life – a urostomy bag for diverting urine from the body and an ileostomy bag for faeces nicknamed Squirt and Bob. Now she has launched a social media campaign calling on others to share pictures proudly flaunting their bags to reduce taboos and stigma.

Rachel, from Boscombe, who has created a poster of the pictures, said: “We have bravely bared all to raise awareness and knowledge of stoma bags but especially urostomies because there is a lack of awareness and knowledge among the general public and medical professions about them. We are often the forgotten group of the stoma family.

“We want to show you can still live a life and love your body. I want to help others celebrate their bodies no matter what they look like.

“We are beautiful, we are brave, we are warriors, we are survivors of our diseases.”

The former radiotherapy student believes a bad case of food poisoning may have triggered her condition nine years ago.

She explained: “I contracted campylobacteriosis from already cooked chicken purchased in a well-known supermarket chain.

“Little did I know then that this moment would be the catalyst that triggered a chain reaction of multiple organ systems failing. From that day onwards my life would never be the same again.

“Having a stoma bag can cause huge struggles with body image and they can be a taboo. I used to hide under dark baggy clothes but I realised they are something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They are part of us though and we wouldn’t be here without our bags.

“I feel like I’ve been through a lot but I feel I want to turn the negative into something positive.

“I am proud of the body that has kept me alive and I want to urge others to not be ashamed.

“I live one day at a time. I don’t know how long I have but I will live each day to the maximum and if I help one person I will have done my job.”

For information go to Rachel’s blog rocking2stomas.co.uk

At least 20 sick with Cyclospora in Canada

Health-types in Canada are investigating locally acquired Cyclospora infections in two provinces. The source of the outbreak has not been identified. Previous outbreaks in Canada and the United States (US) have been linked to imported fresh produce. The investigation is ongoing.

In Canada, a total of 20 cases have been reported in two provinces: British Columbia (5) and Ontario (15). Individuals became sick between May and early June of this year. The majority of cases (60%) are male, with an average age of 53 years. The investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing. To date, no multi-jurisdictional outbreaks of Cyclospora have been linked to produce grown in Canada.

The outbreak investigation is active and the public health notice will be updated on a regular basis as the investigation evolves.

People living or travelling in tropical or subtropical regions of the world who eat fresh produce or drink untreated water may be at increased risk for infection because the parasite is found in some of these regions.

Blame Qatar? No, blame poor food handling as 825 sickened at Mosul camp

The first time I understood the term displaced person, was from my carpenter friend John Kierkegaard who, in the Danish tradition, had a beer at morning coffee, one at lunch, and one at afternoon coffee.

John would often tell me, it tastes good, but the work is not so good.

He told tales of bicycling 20-30 km/h with full infantry gear during WW II, and how he migrated to Canada at the end of the war as a displaced person.

On June 12, 2017, at sundown, hundreds of residents of one of the many tent camps that have sprawled across the barren landscape around Mosul gathered for iftar, the evening meal to break the day’s Ramadan fast. They were treated to a meal of chicken, rice, soup, beans and yogurt — paid for by a Qatari charity and prepared by a restaurant in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region.

Within hours, hundreds fell sick, vomiting and suffering from diarrhea. Overnight, until about 4 a.m., ambulances and cars rushed victims to hospitals, said Alaa Muhsin, an ambulance driver from Baghdad who works at the camp.

The period between when the food was cooked and then transported to the IDP camps resulted in the food poisoning of over 825 displaced persons from Mosul in southwestern Erbil.

 

“After we carried out an investigation of the case, we found out the cause of the food poisoning was due to the long period between preparing and consuming the food as it was packed in plastic containers and transferred to the camps,” Erbil Governor Nawzad Hadi said on Monday in a press conference.

“There were no deliberate intentions to poison IDPs by those who cooked the food,” he added.

“The food itself was okay, but the delay between the preparation of the meals and their distribution, along with the improper storing of the food, was the reason hundreds of IDPs became ill,” Hadi emphasized, stating the case had been sent to court.

The Governor previously mentioned the food was cooked at 9:00 a.m. then transferred to the camp at 1:00 p.m. The food was later distributed between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m.

Following the incident, seven people were arrested, six from the restaurant where the meals were prepared and one from a charity organization.

The restaurant was also closed, Erbil police previously informed.

Hadi noted the food should be prepared at the camps and that premade meals are forbidden.

He thanked the Peshmerga and security members for quickly transporting 638 IDPs to hospitals in Erbil to receive prompt medical treatment, while the remaining were treated at the camps.

The Erbil Health Department’s Director-General Saman Hussein Barzinjy told Kurdistan24 the group which delivered the donation did not take into consideration health hazards related to food preparation and distribution.

At the time, Barzinjy mentioned one of the camp’s inhabitants had died from food poisoning.

However, a statement released on Tuesday apologized for the misinformation, assuring no one had died, adding the condition of the child who was thought dead was “stable.”

The Kurdistan Region is home to almost two million IDPs and refugees who fled from the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Keep it cool: C. perfringens is not a friend; UK pub fined thousands

Nikkie Sutton of The Morning Advertiser writes that a carvery operator that provides food in a West Midlands pub has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds after 20 diners contracted food poisoning.

A 94-year-old woman and several children became ill after eating at the pub last year and informed Dudley Council of their food poisoning symptoms.

IP Carvery, which makes the food on behalf of the Park Lane Tavern, in Cradley, pleaded guilty to placing unsafe food on the market in a case brought by Dudley Council at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court on 18 May.

A public apology was made to the court on behalf of IP Carvery’s director. The court also heard the company had employed a food-safety expert to advise them, inspect their facilities and train staff.

The food business was fined £1,350 and ordered to pay costs of £2,483.55 to Dudley Council and a victim surcharge of £120.

At the the hearing, the court heard how the diners ate at the carvery in a two hour slot on Saturday 2 April last year and 20 customers were confirmed to have suffered from Clostridium perfringens, that can be caused by the inadequate cooling of large joints of meat, leading to the formation of toxic bacteria, which survives cooking and then grows in the meat while cooling. It can cause illness shortly after being reheated and consumed.

Two leftover samples of turkey taken home by customers were found to be contaminated with the bacteria.

Environmental Health officers also visited the pub and found inadequate storage temperatures of cooked joints, a lack of monitoring of cooling times and temperature of cooked meats and inadequate record keeping.

Brisbane’s idea of a water warning

Fucking hopeless at communication.

Walkerton Water Tower

The Courier Mail reports that residents north of Brisbane (we’re southsiders) are being advised to boil all their tap water before drinking it following fears the water supply has been compromised.

Unitywater says the advise applies to 3,500 residents in Petrie and Old Petrie Town.

In a statement, Unitywater said residents should boil water for the next 24 hours, or until the water quality has returned to normal.

Residents have been advised to use cool boiled water or bottled water when brushing their teeth, drinking, washing and preparing food beverages, making ice, bathing infants or preparing baby formula.

“This is a rare event and Unitywater is working closely with Queensland Health to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” the statement said.

Unitywater is currently flushing the mains in the area and supplying water from an alternative reservoir.

“We are also taking regular samples to monitor the water quality.”

Can consumers handle the truth (yes)? Can they handle potty-mouth (yes)? are auditors fucking robotrons when people die, from food (yes)

A subscriber from a third-party auditing company recently wrote and said I had a potty mouth.

I said get the fuck over it, nothing else seems to work, so try something different when it comes to food safety behavior.

You can go and get all hepped up on food safety culture, but it don’t translate into shit.

Night soil shit.

The kind that fertilizes all the veggies for the fancy restaurants in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and around the globe.

Gregory Bloom asks in MeatingPlace, can consumers handle the truth?

Besides the tortured writing, the answer is, duh.

For the past 25 years, all I’ve heard is we can’t adopt new technology because consumers don’t want it.

Bullshit.

Consumers don’t know what they want until they are offered it.

We sorta proved that in 2000 when we offered genetically engineered and conventional sweet corn and potatoes for sale at a farmer’s market.

The big stores wouldn’t let us in, because they were terrified to let moms and dads know that sweet corn and potatoes was grown with pesticides.

Corporate assholes.

Which allowed the anti-GE crowd to come up with some conspiracy shit that resulted in a death-to-science banner on my lab door.

Move out of your parent’s basement, get a life.

Bruce Cran of the Consumers Association of Canada told CTV News the federal government has done “an incompetent job” informing Canadians that irradiation is safe and he worries that a lack of action could lead to a deadly outbreak.

“They need to promote an understanding so Canadians can make an informed choice, and they’re not doing that for whatever reason,” Cran said. “This is not only a safe practice, it’s one that many of us would like to be able to use.”

“Our members would absolutely support it,” said Robin Horel, president of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council.

“But we haven’t pushed hard because … the companies that produce chicken and turkey are concerned about what the consumer response would be.”

It’s called leadership.

Yes, leaders get some arrows in the back, but it’s been decades, either get behind science or suffer down the road.

My cousin the asparagus farmer bills his crop as genetically-engineered free. But anyone in the know knows that asparagus has been bred using multiple techniques over the years so it is absolutely genetically modified.

I asked him once if a fungal resistant GE asparagus came along, would he plant it.

He shrugged.

I have full respect for any farmer that can make a living doing whatever, getting gullible consumers to buy whatever.

There is a long history of food fairy tales, most famously linked to Dr. Kellogg in Michigan.

Anna Madison, a spokeswoman for Health Canada, said in an email the federal government would not promote irradiation since it does not engage in promotional activities.

Bullshit.

Health Canada promotes all kinds of bad food safety advice, from handwashing to thermometer use.

Rick Holley, professor emeritus of food microbiology and food safety at University of Manitoba, says irradiation is safe and is even more important for chicken than for ground beef. Chicken causes more illness in Canada, he said.

Holley said salmonella is naturally present on a lot of chicken and the gastro-intestinal bacteria campylobactor is present on all of it, regardless of whether a bird is free-range or factory.

“Both of these organisms occasionally kill, but because they make more people ill who recover, then the emphasis is not placed on them to the same extent as E. coli O157 in hamburger,” said Holley, who suggested that irradiating chicken could cut food-related illness in Canada by 25 per cent.

(Like my The Who T-shirt?)

 

Mushrooms, some are yummy, some are psychedelic, some are lethal: I wouldn’t know the difference.

Ingestion of Amanita phalloides is responsible for a majority of mushroom-related deaths worldwide. Amatoxins, the principal toxic alkaloids found in these fungi, cause cell injury by halting protein synthesis. A possible antidote licensed in most of Europe, intravenous silibinin, is undergoing evaluation by clinical trial in the United States.

In December 2016, 14 cases of Amanita phalloides poisoning were identified by the California Poison Control System (CPCS) among persons who had consumed foraged wild mushrooms. In the past few years before this outbreak, CPCS only received reports of a few mushroom poisoning cases per year. All patients in this outbreak had gastrointestinal manifestations of intoxication leading to dehydration and hepatotoxicity. Three patients received liver transplants; all patients recovered, although one (a child) had permanent neurologic impairment.

Wild-picked mushrooms should be evaluated by a trained mycologist before ingestion. Inexperienced foragers should be strongly discouraged from eating any wild mushrooms. Health care providers should be aware of the potential for toxicity after wild mushroom ingestion, that gastrointestinal symptoms mimicking viral gastroenteritis can occur after ingestion and slowly progress to potentially fatal hepatotoxicity, and should contact the local poison center for reporting and assistance with management of these patients.

Amanita phalloides Mushroom Poisonings- Northern California, December 2016

MMWR, Weekly, June 2, 2017, 66(21); 549-553, Kathy T. Vo, MD; Martha E. Montgomery, MD; S. Todd Mitchell, MD; Pieter H. Scheerlinck, MD; Daniel K. Colby, MD; Kathryn H. Meier, PharmD; Susan Kim-Katz, PharmD; Ilene B. Anderson, PharmD; Steven R. Offerman, MD; Kent R. Olson, MD; Craig G. Smollin, MD

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6621a1.htm?s_cid=mm6621a1_e

Seek and ye shall find: Sapovirus sickens 650 in Sweden, 2016

A foodborne outbreak of gastroenteritis with more than 650 suspected cases occurred in April 2016 in Sollentuna, Sweden. It originated in a school kitchen serving a total of 2,700 meals daily.

Initial microbiological testing (for Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Entamoeba histolytica, adeno-, astro-, noro-, rota- and sapovirus) of stool samples from 15 symptomatic cases was negative, despite a clinical presentation suggestive of calicivirus.

Analyses of the findings from both the Sollentuna municipality environmental team and a web-based questionnaire suggested that the source of the outbreak was the salad buffet served on 20 April, although no specific food item could be identified.

Subsequent electron microscopic examination of stool samples followed by whole genome sequencing revealed a variant of sapovirus genogroup V. The virus was not detected using standard PCR screening. This paper describes the epidemiological outbreak investigation and findings leading to the discovery.

Investigation of a foodborne outbreak of gastroenteritis in a school canteen revealed a variant of sapovirus  genogroup V not detected by standard PCR, sollentuna, Sweden, 2016

Eurosurveillance, vol 22, issue 22, 01 June 2017, M Hergens, J Nederby Öhd, E Alm , HH Askling, S Helgesson, M Insulander, N Lagerqvist, B Svenungsson, M Tihane, T Tolfvenstam, P Follin,

http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.22.30543

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22808