Norovirus sickens 60 students at NC State; kindergarten in China

In an update to the North Carolina State University norovirus outbreak, about 60 students are experiencing symptoms.

For me it was for one night and that night it was like the apocalypse, honestly. It was, ugh, really bad,” said Astri Sundstroem, a graduate student who battled the virus this week.

Most of the affected students, including Sundstroem and senior Linda Astrom, live in the Alexander residence hall.

“It was really bad. It was very intense for like just a few hours. Everything broke out. It was crazy. Everyone was really sick,” Astrom said.

To demonstrate how infectious norovirus can be, Zhang et al. report in the current International Journal of Infectious Diseases – recommended bath time reading – that noroviruses are a common cause of acute gastroenteritis outbreaks in institutions including schools and kindergartens around the world.

An outbreak caused by GII.P16-GII.2 norovirus in a kindergarten in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, China is reported here. An epidemiological investigation was conducted, and pathogen detection was performed. The descriptive analysis indicated that this outbreak in middle class 1 had a point source. Twenty cases of acute gastroenteritis occurred in this class within a period of 8.5 h; the attack rate was 52.6% (20/38). Airborne transmission via the air conditioning unit in a confined restroom could have played a critical role in this outbreak. Sequence analysis of GII-positive samples confirmed that the norovirus GII.P16-GII.2 variant was the etiological agent of this outbreak.

An acute gastroenteritis outbreak caused by GII.P16-GII.2 norovirus associated with airborne transmission via the air conditioning unit in a kindergarten in Lianyungang, China

International Journal of Infectious Diseases, December 2017, vol 65, pages 81-84,Ting-lu Zhang, Jing Lu, Liang Ying, Xiao-lu Zhu, Lian-hao Zhao, Meng-ying Zhou, Jia-long Wang, Guo-cai Chen, Lei Xu, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2017.10.003

http://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(17)30259-X/fulltext

Sounds like Walkerton: More than 750,000 in NZ exposed to potentially unsafe drinking water

Same old, same old.

Tracy Watkins of Stuff writes complacency, inept officials – a Government inquiry paints a frightening picture of the state of New Zealand’s drinking water, with at least 750,000 of New Zealanders drinking from supplies that are “not demonstrably safe” – a figure described as likely to be a “significant underestimate.”

The inquiry was sparked by the 2016 Havelock North gastro outbreak, which has now been linked to four deaths, and calls for a major overhaul of water supplies, including mandatory treatment.

The Government has now written urgently to all mayors and district health boards asking to check the water they are supplying meets current standards after the inquiry revealed 20 per cent of water supplies were not up to standard.

That 20 per cent affects 759,000 people, of which 92,000 are at risk of bacterial infection, 681,000 of protozoal infection and 59,000 at risk from the long term effects of exposure to chemicals through their water supply.

But that figure was likely to understate the problem, as it did not include more than 600,000 people who drink water from self-suppliers or temporary suppliers, or tourists to places like Punakaiki on the West Coast, which is under a permanent “boil water” notice.

The inquiry found that complacency about the state of New Zealand’s drinking water was common, yet the evidence showed that in many cases it was safer to drink tap water overseas than here.

But its most damning findings related to the Ministry of Health, which it described as inept and negligent in its oversight of a system in which non-compliance with safe standards was high.

The risks for contamination of the water supplies were detailed by the inquiry including damaged pipes, a huge number of private and unknown bores, and the close proximity of sewerage to drinking water assets, a factor that caused surprise among overseas experts.

The second part of the inquiry looked at broader water quality issues.

It found that lessons from Havelock North appeared not to have been learned – compliance figures in the 2016-17 period were still “alarmingly low” and “do not appear to reflect any increased vigilance by suppliers in the aftermath of [that] outbreak”.

“The inquiry found the falling compliance levels with the bacteriological and chemical standards particularly concerning. The decrease in compliance with the bacteriological standards results from an increased number of transgressions, an increased number of supplies with ineffective, delayed or unknown remedial action following transgressions, and an increased number of supplies with inadequate monitoring.

“Twenty-seven supplies failed entirely to take any remedial action after a transgression. In the aftermath of the bacteriological outbreak in Havelock North, these failures to respond effectively to transgressions or to monitor adequately are surprising and unacceptable.”

50+sick: Norovirus in Sweden water

(Something may be lost in translation)

Thanks to our Swedish correspondent who forwarded the stories about a norovirus outbreak in Saxdalen linked to drinking water.

Anders Lindblom, Disease Prevention Officer in Dalarna, said, “Probably the cause of the stomach disorder in the Saxdalen winter calf virus (calicivirus). The virus that causes winter rheumatoid arthritis is highly contagious and spreads apart from water and food, even from person to person.”

It’s norovirus. But different countries call it different things.

Our correspondent adds, “In Saxdalen in middle Sweden, the drinking water is contaminated with norovirus. The contamination source is probably poorly maintained sewage pipe system. So far is at least 50 people (10% of the population) infected.”

Media reports note, “The stool sample we received indicates that it is calicivirus and unfortunately it will take some time to get the water approved,” says Göran Eriksson, environmental manager in Ludvika municipality.

“He tells us that the cause of the pollution is probably that a drainage pipe in very bad condition polluted the soil at a place where a drinking water pipeline had previously broken.

“Ludvika municipality still recommends people living in Saxdalen to boil the water you plan to drink and cook with.”

Steam with your melons? If it makes produce safer, why not

Abstract

The purpose of this study was evaluation of the effectiveness of superheated steam (SHS) on inactivation of foodborne pathogens on cantaloupes and watermelons.

Saturated steam (SS) treatment was performed at 100 °C and that of SHS at 150 and 200 °C. Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella Typhimurium and Listeria monocytogenes-inoculated cantaloupes and watermelons were exposed for a maximum of 30 s and 10 s, respectively. Populations of the three pathogens on cantaloupes and watermelons were reduced by more than 5 log after 200 °C steam treatment for 30 s and 10 s, respectively. After SHS treatment of cantaloupes and watermelons for each maximum treatment time, color and maximum load values were not significantly different from those of untreated controls. By using a noncontact 3D surface profiler, we found that surface characteristics, especially surface roughness, is the main reason for differences in microbial inactivation between cantaloupes and watermelons. The results of this study suggest that SHS treatment can be used as an antimicrobial intervention for cantaloupes and watermelons without inducing quality deterioration.

Comparison of the effect of saturated and superheated steam on the inactivation of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella Typhimurium and Listeria monocytogenes on cantaloupe and watermelon surfaces, Korea, April 2017 to October 2017, Food Microbiology, Volume 72

Sun-Ah Kwon, Won-Jae Song, Dong-Hyun Kang

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0740002017303805?_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_origin=gateway&_docanchor=&md5=b8429449ccfc9c30159a5f9aeaa92ffb&ccp=y

Food Safety Talk 141: Dot Zaaa

Don and Ben talk about a self-inflicted hockey injury that Ben is dealing with that is causing him to lean differently. They also talk emails; raw milk and Listeria (and pasteurized milk and Listeria); biases and scientists looking at the same data and arriving at different conclusions. The conversation moves to famous microbiologists birthdays and a massive, tragic, outbreak of Listeria in South Africa. The show ends on Canadian satire and the Conference for Food Protection.

Episode 141 is available on iTunes and here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

NC State University hosts a norovirus…outbreak

The following message popped into my email inbox earlier today:

Since Tuesday, Dec. 5, several students have reported experiencing gastrointestinal illness. Late yesterday, the Wake County Human Services Department confirmed the cause as norovirus.

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea. More information about norovirus, and tips to prevent it from spreading, are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

At present, approximately 60 students have exhibited norovirus-like symptoms. Most of the affected students live in Alexander Hall, however, additional cases of ill students have been received from a handful of other on- and off-campus housing locations.

With norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses, the most effective way to stop the spread is to practice good handwashing and personal hygiene.

If you are exhibiting symptoms and feel ill, you should thoroughly wash your hands after any bathroom visit. If you are feeling ill, you should not prepare food for or serve food to others. It is also important to get adequate rest and good oral hydration, both when ill and when trying not to become ill.

The university is taking every precaution to contain the spread of the illness, and to assist ill students, including the following actions:

• Student Health is actively working with University Housing to contact all identified sick students who live on campus to check on their health and needs.
• Wellness kits containing liquids and easy-to-digest foods have been provided to affected students.
• Students exhibiting gastrointestinal issues have been instructed to remain in their residences throughout their illness in an effort to not spread the virus to others.
• University Housekeeping staff have increased cleaning operations in affected areas as a precaution, including cleaning restrooms, hand railings, door knobs, etc., and will continue to do so daily until the illness passes.
• University Housekeeping will provide approved cleaning supplies to affected students for their university-owned personal living spaces.
• Faculty of the students who are ill have been notified.

Any students who are presenting symptoms should remain in their rooms, and on-campus students should contact their RA. Students experiencing persistent, severe vomiting or diarrhea should go to the Student Health Center, personal health care provider, or emergency healthcare facility. Students who are not sick should go about their normal routines.

If students, faculty or staff have questions, please contact the Wolfpack Response Line at 919.512.3272.

Here are some infosheets for just this occasion.

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36 dead, 557 sick in Listeria outbreak in South Africa

At a media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday, South African Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced that since January 1, 2017 up until November 29, 557 laboratory confirmed cases have been reported.

Of the 557 cases, the department of health has found the final outcome of 70 confirmed cases of listeriosis.

“Of these 70 cases, 36 persons have perished,” said Motsoaledi.

The source of the outbreak is currently being investigated, but Motsoaledi said it’s believe that this particular outbreak is from a food source that is being consumed by both the rich and the poor, and the contamination points may well be farms and food processing plants.

Bad idea: Petting zoos at the office are the latest perk for stressed-out employees

Get your own fucking pet, and keep it out of the office.

Do any of youse understand how bacteria and viruses move around?

Chris Delaney typically unwinds from his job at Discovery Communications by taking leisurely weekend drives or flipping through stacks of vinyl at used record stores. But on a recent midweek afternoon, the broadcast ingest operator was releasing his stress — right there at work — by stroking a bearded dragon, a household lizard with thankfully inert spikes.

Salmonella factory.

“He’s very mellow,” Delaney said of the coldblooded creature resting on his lap. “Applying a warm hand puts this guy in a good mood.”

At the office animal party for the over-My Little Pony set, the good vibrations were flowing in both directions. How could you tell? Well, Norbert didn’t puff up his body and deploy his defenses, and Delaney didn’t rush to the medic with gouged fingertips. Quite the opposite: After finishing with Norbert, he requested a cuddle with another member of the visiting menagerie from Squeals on Wheels, a traveling petting zoo based in Potomac, Md.

“I think my favorite was the rabbit,” Delaney said after several failed attempts to soothe an African pygmy hedgehog named Tweedledee. (Or was it his brother, Tweedledum? Hard to know, because all hedgehogs act like twitchy acupuncturists.)

At the mention of his name, Rex the Velveteen rabbit attempted an escape, thumping his head against the cover of his wooden bin. Perhaps he needed an animal to hold, too.

In these anxious times, the embattled masses are resorting to all manner of succor. We meditate in the morning and drink a stiff one after work. Yell at traffic on the way to laughter yoga. Binge on Netflix all night and down cup after cup of pour-over coffee the next morning.

And now, with the rise of office animal parties, you can stroke a bunny, cradle a puppy or massage a tortoise’s neck on company time. If your colleagues or clients grow irate over unanswered emails, tell them to submit a complaint to Slinky, the blue-tongued skink.

South Carolina Waffle House customer cooks his own meal after finding staff sleeping

At 55, I often doze off.

About 6 years ago, as we drove to Florida, Sorenne said she wanted Waffle House for her birthday.

It was gross, but the kid liked it.

A hungry, slightly inebriated man knew just what to do when he stopped by a South Carolina Waffle House early Thursday only to find the restaurant’s staff snoozing: He cooked up his own meal, snapping selfies along the way.

Alex Bowen said in a Facebook post that he stopped by a Waffle House in West Columbia because he couldn’t sleep.

The restaurant’s employees apparently did not have the same problem.

“I walked back outside to my car to look for employees,” Bowen told WIS. “No one in sight.”

It wasn’t until he walked back inside the restaurant that he noticed an employee snoozing in a corner booth.

“Then it was go time,” Bowen told WIS. “(I) got hot on the grill with a double Texas bacon cheesesteak with extra pickles. When I was done I cleaned the grill, collected my ill-gotten sandwich and rolled out.”

He told WIS that he wouldn’t normally have gotten behind the grill.

“I give all the credit to my old friend vodka,” Bowen said.