Chlorine works: 12 dead, 87 sick from Legionnaires’ linked to Michigan water supply 2014-15

An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that killed 12 people and sickened at least 87 in Flint, Mich., in 2014 and 2015 was caused by low chlorine levels in the municipal water system, scientists have confirmed. It’s the most detailed evidence yet linking the bacterial disease to the city’s broader water crisis.

Rebecca Hersher of NPR reports that in April 2014, Flint’s water source switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Almost immediately, residents noticed tap water was discolored and acrid-smelling. By 2015, scientists uncovered that the water was contaminated with lead and other heavy metals.

Just months after the water source changed, hospitals were reporting large numbers of people with Legionnaires’ disease.

“It’s a pneumonia, but what’s different about it is, we don’t share it like we do the flu or common cold,” explains Michele Swanson of the University of Michigan, who has been studying Legionnaires’ for 25 years. “It’s caused by a bacterium,Legionella pneumophila, that grows in water.”

The bug can enter the lungs through tiny droplets, like ones dispersed by an outdoor fountain or sprinkler system, or accidentally inhaled if a person chokes while drinking.

“If you don’t have a robust immune system, the microbe can cause a lethal pneumonia,” she says. In a normal year, the disease is relatively rare — about six to 12 cases per year in the Flint area, according to Swanson. During the water crisis, that jumped up to about 45 cases per year.

Although the outbreak of Legionnaires’ happened at the same time as the Flint water crisis, it was initially unclear how the two were connected. After earlier research suggested that chlorine levels might be the key, Swanson and colleagues at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Sammy Zahran of Colorado State University and a team of researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit, began analyzing detailed water and epidemiological data from the six-year period before, during and after the crisis.

“We know that Legionella is sensitive to chlorine in the laboratory,” says Swanson. The chlorine makes it difficult for the bacteria to replicate, which is one reason water companies often add chlorine to their systems. But when Flint’s water source changed, the chlorine level dropped and cases of Legionnaires’ disease spiked. “It was the change in water source that caused this Legionnaires’ outbreak,” Swanson says.

The new research was published in a pair of studies in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the journal mBio on Monday. The conclusion may bolster parts of the case being brought against Nick Lyon, the former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director, who is being tried for involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Legionnaires’ deaths.

From April 2014 to October 2015, the Flint River served as Flint’s water source. During the same period, cases of Legionnaires’ disease increased from less than a dozen per year to about 45 per year, and 12 people died of the waterborne disease.

The new studies also suggest that a complex set of factors may be responsible for low chlorine levels during the crisis. In addition to killing microbes, chlorine can react with heavy metals like lead and iron, and with organic matter from a river. That means lead and iron in the water may have decreased the amount of chlorine available to kill bacteria.

Corned beef and pastrami with poop: New York deli flooded with ‘fecal matter’ due to bad pipes, suit says

Maya Rajamani of DNA Info reports the basement of the Stage Door Deli & Restaurant was deluged with “sewage and fecal matter” after the building’s owner failed to inspect and maintain the eatery’s pipes, a new lawsuit charges.

The restaurant at 360 Ninth Ave., between West 30th and 31st streets, was no longer able to use its basement after the pipes connecting to the city’s main utility lines broke on July 30, 2016, the suit filed against the landlord Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court claims.

Building owner 30th Street and 9th Avenue Enterprises LLC was supposed to inspect and maintain the pipes but failed to do so, the suit notes.

The diner, known for the corned beef and pastrami sandwiches it has served for the past 17 years, moved into the Ninth Avenue space after a rent hike forced it out of its longtime home across from Penn Station in 2015.

When the pipes broke last year, “sewage and fecal matter” seeped into the basement, “causing both substantial health concerns and damage to food products, food supplies and food preparation areas,” the complaint says.

 

Flipping burgers is a noble craft and needs to be done with a thermometer, otherwise people get sick

Trash-talking elites are part of the reason Donald Trump is now U.S. President.

In the new book, Shattered, journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes write that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was doomed to fail. “The portrait of the Clinton campaign that emerges from these pages is that of a Titanic-like disaster: an epic fail made up of a series of perverse and often avoidable missteps by an out-of-touch candidate and her strife-ridden staff that turned ‘a winnable race’ into another iceberg-seeking campaign ship.”

Australians are also being drawn to the right, with their own versions of Aussie-first – the aboriginal population may have some thoughts on that – in which skilled 457 visas are being eliminated.

It’s not the political drift that is surprising – Australia is a country that, as John Oliver said, has settled into their intolerance like an old resentful slipper” – it’s the response from the Group of Eight universities who wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday complaining the new rules could be “extremely damaging” to academic recruitment.

Forgetting for a moment that a Group of Eight unis in a country with 23 million people is self-aggrandizing on a ridiculous scale, University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence (that’s like a university president, which is self-aggrandizing enough) told Fairfax Media, “They’re really not people flipping burgers. “If you are building world-class expertise in a cutting-edge area of science, you’re probably going to need to draw from a gene pool larger than 23 million.”

Spence, your knowledge of genetics sucks; I have a genetics degree.

In his letter to Mr Turnbull, Go8 chairman Peter Hoj said “the mere suggestion of Australia clamping down on academic mobility into Australia would be extremely damaging to academic recruitment in Australia.”

Here are my perceived limitations to academic recruitment in Australia:

  1. Get an Internet that works and is not dependent on hobbits spinning a hamster wheel. Every time it rains, the Internet goes down, because most of the connections are underground, where water pools.
  2. Offer something of value rather than appealing to money. It’s still not too late to life a life of substance.
  3. Bring Australia into the 21st century by changing laws on same sex marriage, abortion, parental leave and end-of-life.
  4. Stop casting aspersions about fast-food workers – the people who probably make your lunch Dr. vice-chancellors – and save the flipping burgers shit for your fancy club talk. Engineering geniuses still need to eat. Perhaps Australia could make it a priority that food is safe and doesn’t make people barf. The military figured this out centuries ago. Maybe universities can, eventually.

5530 sick 39% of residents: Health board discloses full extent of Campy in NZ water outbreak

Forty-five people, mostly over 70 were admitted to hospital with campylobacter a Hawke’s Bay District Health Board update reveals.

poop-water-nz-nov-16The DHB has conducted four surveys since the event in August, the latest on September 27 and 28, the results of which they collated with the previous findings.

The surveys were conducted by telephone and the latest figures brought the estimated total number of residents affected by gastroenteritis to 5530 or 39 per cent of Havelock North’s population, 1072 of those confirmed cases.

Of those hospitalised, as of October 10, 27 were aged over 70, followed by four in the 60-69 year age group, four in the 40-49 age group and three in the 50-59 age group.

Four people under the age of 20 also ended up in hospital.

The total number of people who had developed the rare complication from campylobacter, Guillan Barre Syndrome, was reported to be three people. As the incubation time was up to four weeks, it was considered that any new cases now would not be linked to the original outbreak.

Of the estimated 5530 residents who were affected, 32 per cent had a recurrence of the bug, and as of September 28 four people were experiencing ongoing symptoms.

At the time an estimated 78 per cent of people who had symptoms took time off work or school.

This paper is so great, it’s the greatest paper ever: Trump invades peer-reviewed publishing

Wang and Cheng from Nanjing Tech University in China (right, not exactly as shown), call their paper on food safety risk modeling in SpringerPlus, “a great reference for food safety management.”

cheech_and_chong-615781Boasting about academic prowess, at least in the public literature, used to be more subtle.

They have a lot of numerical models about why good people do bad things (to make money) and avoid the simplest solution – market food safety at retail.

But judge for yourself on the quality of so-called scientific scholarship:

In this paper, based on the imbalance of the supply-demand relationship of food, we design a spreading model of food safety risk, which is about from food producers to consumers in the food supply chain. We use theoretical analysis and numerical simulation to describe the supply-demand relationship and government supervision behaviors’ influence on the risk spread of food safety and the behaviors of the food producers and the food retailers.

We also analyze the influence of the awareness of consumer rights protection and the level of legal protection of consumer rights on the risk spread of food safety. This model contributes to the explicit investigation of the influence relationship among supply-demand factors, the regulation behavioral choice of government, the behavioral choice of food supply chain members and food safety risk spread.

And this paper provides a new viewpoint for considering food safety risk spread in the food supply chain, which has a great reference for food safety management.

The conclusion also has some gems:

In this paper, we design a food safety risk spread model from food producer-to-consumer in the food supply chain based on the imbalance of the supply-demand relationship of food. We use theoretical analysis and numerical simulation to describe the

influence and active mechanism of the supply-demand relationship and government supervision behaviors on the risk spread of food safety and the behaviors of the food producers and the food retailers. We also analyze the effect of the awareness of consumer rights protection and the level of legal protection of consumer rights on the risk spread of food safety. The theoretical analysis and numerical simulation result showed that, (1) with the increase in the imbalance of the supply-demand relationship, the risk spread rate of unsafe food appeared the phenomenon of accelerated increasing. Thus stabilize the market supply-demand relationship of food is most important part of government regulatory. (2) the behaviors of government supervision behaviors and strategy choice more significant effect on controlling the risk spread of unsafe food, enhancing the sampling rate of the food retailers, and decreasing the raw material adulteration rate of the food producers. Thus the government should strengthen the many-links supervision of food supply chain. (3) intensifying the awareness of consumer rights protection and enhancing in the level of legal protection of consumer rights effectively decreased the risk spread rate of unsafe food. Thus the government should build effective system of consumer rights protection, and inspire consumer taking legal action to defend their rights and interests when they finding unqualified products. Certainly, this model and numerical simulation also have certain scope of application and limitations, for example the variable design and parameter value selection, and the demand elasticity characteristics of food.

Bubonic plague hung around in Europe

The plague bacterium Yersinia pestis may have lurked in a Medieval European reservoir for at least 300 years, researchers suggest January 13 in PLOS ONE.

thing.that.wouldn't.leave.belushiThe second of two major plague pandemics hit Europe from the 14th to 16th centuries, peaking during the Black Death from 1346 to 1353. The new study weighs in on a longstanding debate over what fed the pandemic, strains of the bacterium traveling on waves of trade from Asia via the Silk Road or a homegrown biological reservoir such as lice.

Researchers analyzed DNA from 30 skeletal remains spanning the 14th to 17th centuries. Eight carried strains of Y. pestis, and all bore genetic similarity to each other and to those found in previously sampled European plague victims. Strains from Asia would have injected more genetic variety. Instead, the results suggest that at least one strain of Y. pestis stuck around in Europe for a long time, researchers write.

The thing that wouldn’t leave from topo morto on Vimeo.

SNL, Who, lab?

Saturday Night Live is like The Who – a greatest hits group (I always preferred Townsend’s solo stuff).

So while the 40th anniversary of SNL provided a lot of laughs, it took 40 years to get to those gems.

And a lot of people had to be deemed not worthy, like running a lab.

But at least they got hand sanitizers.

Thanks to one of our Jersey food safety friends for the link.

NYC cafe shut down by Health Dept. for second time in 2 months

Longtime Irish pub Peter McManus Cafe was shut down by the Health Department this week — its second closure in less than two months.

belushi.snl.after.partyHealth inspectors found evidence of mice, unwashed food preparation surfaces, contaminated food and hot food that was allowed to get cold during a visit to the 78-year-old bar on Monday and ordered it closed, records show.

Officials also found that the 152 Seventh Ave. spot’s supervisor lacked a city-mandated Food Protection Certificate. In all, the restaurant racked up 61 violation points, records show.

The family-owned bar opened in 1936 and has appeared in many movies and TV shows, including “Keeping the Faith,” “Seinfeld” and “Saturday Night Live.”

The bar is also a favorite of “SNL” cast members and alumni for the show’s afterparties.

A steady trickle of passersby were bewildered by the bar’s closure Wednesday.

“That’s so f—ing sad,” shouted one woman after seeing the Health Department’s closure sign. “This place is an institution.”