Is quarantine the right time to get a puppy?

Yes

We got George, to go with Ted,  a few weeks ago when he was 8 weeks old.

I’ve had turtles that small but never a dog

Ronda Kaysen of the New York Times asked the same question a week ago.

For Julie Taylor, a TV writer and producer in Glendale, Calif., the answer was two.

Stuck at home with her husband and two teenage children following coronavirus stay-at-home orders, she started to get the itch in mid-March for something furry, happy and oblivious to the stress going on around her.

“It hit me pretty much as soon as we locked down. I really wanted a dog,” said Ms. Taylor, 48. “I can turn on the news at night and three hours later I’m still watching. I get sucked in. I was hoping a dog could help me be more in the moment.”

So earlier this month, the family adopted an 8-month-old pug named Bentley from a friend of a friend, immediately transforming their home life from gloomy to giddy. For the teenagers, the puppy offered a reprieve from the disappointment of a stunted social life. Bentley “has been a fast distraction,” Ms. Taylor said. “He’s added a lot of life into the house.”

On Petfinder.com, adoption inquiries in the four weeks between March 15 and April 15 jumped 122 percent from the previous four weeks. Americans are fostering, too, as shelters look to empty their facilities during the pandemic. Since March 15, more than 1,500 people have completed online foster applications for the ASPCA’s New York City and Los Angeles foster programs, a 500 percent increase compared to typical application numbers usually seen in this period.

“Bringing a new life into a home is an act of optimism,” said Judith Harbour, a licensed clinical social worker for the Animal Medical Center on East 62nd Street in Manhattan, pointing out that many animals in shelters need homes now. “So there is an idea that some people might have: I can do this good thing right now.”

A pet is also a way to wrestle control back into a life that feels unmoored. Our routine may be thrown, but dogs still need to be walked, fed, cleaned and nurtured. A pet’s schedule gets us out of bed and maybe even out of our pajamas and onto the street for some fresh air.

Coronavirus and chicks: Risk remains

As coronavirus increases, many have taken to old timey ways of raising food.

Careful with that.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports the outbreak strain of Salmonella Hadar has een reported from 28 states.

17 people (34% of those with information available) have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

30% of ill people are children younger than 5 years of age.

Epidemiologic evidence shows that contact with backyard poultry (such as chicks and ducklings) is the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, 38 (86%) of 44 ill people reported contact with chicks and ducklings.

People reported obtaining chicks and ducklings from several sources, including agricultural stores, websites, and hatcheries.

Advice to Backyard Flock Owners

You can get sick with a Salmonella infection from touching backyard poultry or their environment. These birds can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean and show no signs of illness. Follow these tips to stay healthy with your backyard flock:

Wash your hands.

Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, or anything in the area where they live and roam.

Adults should supervise handwashing by young children.

Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.

Be safe around poultry.

Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.

Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.

Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.

Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.

Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages and containers for feed or water.

Supervise kids around poultry.

Always supervise children around poultry and while they wash their hands afterward.

Children younger than 5 years of age shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick from germs like Salmonella.

Handle eggs safely.

Collect eggs often. Eggs that sit in the nest can become dirty or break.

Throw away cracked eggs. Germs on the shell can more easily enter the egg though a cracked shell.

Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned carefully with fine sandpaper, a brush, or a cloth.

Don’t wash warm, fresh eggs because colder water can pull germs into the egg.

Refrigerate eggs after collection to maintain freshness and slow germ growth.

Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Egg dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) or hotter. Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.

For a complete list of recommendations, visit the Healthy Pets, Healthy People website section on backyard poultry.

My friend, veterinarian, University of Guelph prot and OK hockey player writes in his Worms and Germs blog, Scott Weese I’m not anti-backyard chickens. I’m anti-“spending the weekend on the toilet” and anti-“seeing people hospitalized unnecessarily” and, I guess, just anti-Salmonella and anti-Campylobacter in general. I can’t see any redeeming qualities of those bacteria, at least in people.

From the duh files: FDA says cows may have caused E. coli lettuce contamination, gumshoes are needed

Lettuce and leafy greens are overrated.

Outbreaks of E. coli illness sickened 188 people last year who ate romaine lettuce in three separate outbreaks.

There have been so many outbreaks going back to spinach in 2006, and beyond that, my favorite salad now is a Greek  salad – without the lettuce.

If the Leafy Greens Marketing Association was as rigorous as its press releases maintain this would be minimized.

Instead, between 2009 and 2018, federal authorities identified 40 food-borne outbreaks of E. coli in the U.S. “with a confirmed or suspected link to leafy greens,” the FDA said.

Investigators concluded the most recent outbreaks were centered on ranches and fields owned by the same grower and that were located downslope from public land where cattle grazed.

So if LGMA is doing internal audits, why didn’t they notice this dude?

Because it’s PR not gumshoes, people out in the field.

We figured out 20 years ago that gumshoes are required.

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published the findings of an investigation into the contamination of romaine lettuce implicated in three outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 during the Fall of 2019.

The investigation was conducted at several farms identified in the outbreak tracebacks, as well as at other businesses and public access areas and resulted in several key findings:

Each of these three outbreaks, identified in the report as Outbreaks A, B and C was caused by distinctly different strains of E. coli O157:H7 as determined by whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis;

Traceback investigations of multiple illness sub-clusters and supply chain information identified a common grower with multiple ranches/fields which supplied romaine lettuce during the timeframe of interest to multiple business entities associated with all three outbreaks. 

The same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that caused Outbreak A was found in two different brands of fresh-cut salads containing romaine lettuce in 2019;

This same outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in Outbreak A was detected in a fecal–soil composite sample taken from a cattle grate on public land less than two miles upslope from a produce farm with multiple fields tied to the outbreaks by the traceback investigations;

Other strains of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC), while not linked to any of the  outbreaks, were found in closer proximity to where romaine lettuce crops were grown, including two samples from a border area of a farm immediately next to cattle grazing land in the hills above leafy greens fields and two samples from on-farm water drainage basins.

These findings, together with the findings from earlier leafy greens outbreaks dating back to 2013, suggest that a potential contributing factor has been the proximity of cattle—a persistent source of E. coli O157:H7 and other STEC—to the produce fields identified in traceback investigations.

Because of  the reoccurring nature of outbreaks associated with leafy greens, the FDA recently released a 2020 Leafy Greens STEC Action Plan, which outlines a three-pronged approach for tackling this problem.  It describes the FDA’s plans for working with industry, federal partners, state and local regulators, academia and others to address the safety of leafy greens by advancing work in three areas: prevention, response, and addressing knowledge gaps.

Outbreak investigation of E. coli: Romaine from Salinas, California (November 2019)

21.may.20

FDA

https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/outbreak-investigation-e-coli-romaine-salinas-california-november-2019

Compost sounds cool, but is it food safety safe

Twenty years ago, I sent one of my students to a big organic conference in Guelph, and requested that she ask one question: How do you know compost is microbiologically safe?

The answer was not convincing.

‘There’s so many good bacteria they out-compete the bad bacteria.’

Fairytale.

Ten years ago, I was visiting a colleague in Melbourne in his high-rise office and he said, see those crappy little houses down there with their crappy little backyard gardens, they provide the produce for Melbourne’s high-end restaurants, and it’s all fertilized with night soil’ (human shit).

A couple of days ago The Packer published a piece about composting food safety.

Doug Grant, who chairs the Center for Produce Safety’s Knowledge Transfer Task Force wrote that composting is a seemingly magical process that decomposes organic materials like green waste or animal manures through microbial fermentation, creating nutrient-rich amendments that can be added back to soils.

It’s not magical; it’s microbiological.

However, compost can also pose a risk to the food safety of fresh produce.

Animal manure is widely suspected to be a significant source of human pathogens. Cows can carry E. coli, while poultry and swine can carry Salmonella. If compost is made with manure containing such pathogens, and the composting process is not controlled properly, these pathogens can survive composting. Contaminated compost applied to fields can then cross-contaminate fresh produce that contacts amended soil during growth, irrigation or harvest.

Yes, we have over 20 years of evidence.

Gurmail Mudahar, Ph.D., is vice president of research and development and food safety at Tanimura & Antle and is a member of CPS’s technical committee and California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement’s (LGMA) advisory board. He reports that his company used to prepare and apply their own animal manure-based composts.  That changed when food safety emerged as a major leafy greens industry issue almost two decades ago.

Then Tanimura & Antle and other growers began buying compost only from specialized manufacturers to minimize produce safety hazards. 

At its simplest, composting is a manufacuring process. To produce compost safely, the most critical controls are high temperature and time held at that temperature. Over time, the heat generated by microbial respiration in turn reduces the compost’s microbial population, including any human pathogens present. 

As a general rule, compost temperatures must reach 131 degrees Fahrenheit or 55 degrees Celsius for 3-15 days, followed by a curing phase of least 21 days and preferably a few months. (Once applied to agricultural fields, pathogens continue to die off when exposed to sunlight’s ultraviolet rays, humidity, temperature, time and other factors.)

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

Bacteria don’t recognize state borders: Salmonella in Australian eggs

Kelsey Wilkie of the Daily Mail  reports at least three people have come down with salmonella poisoning after purchasing eggs from a popular supermarket.  

The infection is believed to have come from eggs bought in the Melbourne suburb of Werribee. 

The Weekly Times reported the eggs were supplied from farms in New South Wales.

However, a spokesman for the NSW Department of Primary Industries disputed those claims. 

‘There is no evidence to suggest the reported illnesses in Victoria are connected to NSW eggs, or even eggs. The matter is an active investigation being undertaken by Victorian authorities.

‘There are no current recalls of eggs in NSW and no warnings with regards to eggs.’

Since 2012 there have 12 farms identified with Salmonella Enteritidis bacteria and has been working to eliminate the infection.

Most of the infections were discovered in 2019 and the majority of the farms have had their hens removed, but the NSW DPI is still clearing three properties.

There are still salmonella cases in humans in NSW which are linked to a yet-to-be-identified farm.  

Officials from Agriculture Victoria have warned Victorian egg producers to be careful when trading eggs with NSW farmers. 

A table of Australian egg-related outbreaks is available at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-5-1-17.xlsx.

Salmonella found in ‘death dumplings’ that killed a Thai woman

Lab results have found a dubious dish dubbed “death dumplings” after at least one woman died contained salmonella.

After-sale of the dumplings in southeast metro Bangkok was blamed for one death and several illnesses, the lab results, which came out yesterday confirmed they contained salmonella, according to Prakit Wongprasert of the Samut Prakan provincial health office. 

Earlier this month, 66-year-old Thanu Changpoopanga-ngam suffered severe diarrhoea and was taken to a hospital. Her condition was allegedly caused by eating a dumpling bought from a local vendor. Others in Thanu’s family, who also ate the dumplings, said they also had severe diarrhoea.

Thanu died a few days later. Her death, led the media to dub the dim sum snack as ‘death dumplings,’ after several others came forward to say they had taken sick from eating them.

Going down, in the sink

Since knowledge and understanding of waterborne pathogens and their diseases are well illuminated, a few research publications on the prevalence of pathogenic microorganisms in various household sink drain pipes are often not extensively examined. Therefore, this study aims to (a) assess and monitor the densities of the bacterial community in the different natural biofilm that grow on plastic pipelines, (b) to detect Escherichia coli , Salmonella , and Listeria spp. from natural biofilm samples that are collected from the kitchen (n = 30), bathroom (n = 10), laboratories (n = 13), and hospital (n = 8) sink drainage pipes.

Three bacterial species selected were assessed using a culture‐dependent approach followed by verification of isolates using both BIOLOG GEN III and polymerase chain reaction. The estimated number of each bacterium was 122 isolates, while 60, 20, 26, and 16 isolates were obtained from the natural biofilm samples, kitchen, bathroom, laboratories, and hospital, respectively. As for the tests, in all types of biofilm samples, the overall bacterial counts at low temperature (22°C) were higher than those at high temperature (37°C). Meanwhile, E . coli had the most significant number of bacterial microorganisms compared to the other two pathogens. Additionally, the most massive cell densities of E . coli , Salmonella , and Listeria species were discovered in the biofilm collected from the kitchen, then the hospital.

Statistically, the results reveal that there is a positive correlation (p ≥ .0001) with significance between the sources of biofilm. This work certainly makes the potential of household sink drain pipes for reservoir contagious pathogens more explicitly noticeable. Such knowledge would also be beneficial for prospective consideration of the threat to human public health and the environment.

Prevalence of E. coli, salmonella, and listeria spp. as potential pathogens: A comparative study for biofilm of sink drain environment

Journal of Food Safety

Mohamed Azab El‐Liethy, Bahaa A. Hemdan, Gamila E. El‐Taweel

https://doi.org/10.1111/jfs.12816

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jfs.12816?af=R

UK dad left paralyzed after developing suspected food poisoning on dream holiday

Cathy Owen of Wales Online writes a dad-of-three has been left paralysed after developing suspected food poisoning on a dream holiday to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.

William Marsh, from Mountain Ash, was in a coma for 10 weeks and spent seven months in hospital after becoming ill on a holiday to the Dominican Republic with his wife Kathyrn two years ago.

The 57-year-old has been diagnosed with the rare condition Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious neurological condition which is a known complication from food poisoning.

He has now called on specialist serious injury lawyers to investigate his “devastating” ordeal.

William started suffering from stomach cramps and diarrhoea towards the end of a week-long all-inclusive at the Riu Naiboa resort which was booked to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.

When he got back home to Wales, the symptoms continued and on the day he was due to return to work as an engineer he woke up to find he had no feeling in his legs.

That sensation then started to spread across his entire body and William was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome.

William said: “Kathryn and my daughter fell ill first and then it hit me. The symptoms were awful but we just tried to push through it. I needed to get myself to work, so I thought nothing of it really.

“But then I got a huge shock when I woke up one morning and couldn’t feel my legs.”

William was on a ventilator in Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil and after a long period of treatment he was able to return home. But his life has now changed massively.

Almost two years on from his diagnosis, the father-of-three still cannot walk and is essentially confined to his living room due to the extent of his needs. He has been unable to return to work.

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an autoimmune condition affecting the peripheral nervous system.

Often triggered by a viral or bacterial infection such as flu or food poisoning, it causes the nerves in the arms and legs to become inflamed and stop working, usually leading to temporary paralysis which may last from a few days to many months.

An estimated 1,300 people (one to two people per 100,000) are affected by GBS annually in the UK. About 80 per cent will make a good recovery, but between five and 10 per cent of people will not survive and 10-15 per cent may experience long term residual effects ranging from limited mobility or dexterity, to life-long dependency on a wheelchair.

Two-faced kitten ‘Biscuits & Gravy’ Janus cat dies 4 days after birth

It was probably the summer of 1985, and my future ex-wife and future veterinarian, gave me a call at home and said, you have to come see this.

A dairy calf with two symmetrically opposed heads, had been born nearby and brought to the vet school.

It died within two days.

A couple of years later I dabbled in a philosophy of science MSc, and when classmates were debating (stoned) the various accuracies of some historical writings concerning weird creatures I said, it’s biology, shit happens. I’ve seen a two-headed cow, the prof and others openly mocked me.

No worries about that, I was never cut out to be a philosopher of anything.

Shit still happens.

A two-faced kitten who was born in Oregon this past week has died just four days later … despite a hard-fought battle to pull through.

The rare feline phenom — which is often referred to as a Janus cat — was part of a litter of six kittens that popped out in Albany on Wednesday, and the owner, Kyla King, noticed one of them had two mugs on one giant head. She named the kitty Biscuits and Gravy.

Kyla and her family documented B&G’s development over the next few days, showing off their attempts to feed the kitten — which proved incredibly difficult, on account of it being able to feed itself out of both faces — as well as it playing and napping with its siblings.

The owners say Biscuit (its short name) was actually able to eat pretty decently, but he simply wouldn’t grow … and had trouble carrying its head, which was too big for its body.

In the end, the cat died of natural causes — with Kyla writing … “This photo was taken about an hour before Biscuits died. Kyla gave up 3 1/2 days of her life to put all of her efforts into saving him. He was born with the longest of odds and by living nearly 4 days, he beat those odds.”

How will the philosophers explain that one.

Food Safety Talk 211: Sounds Like Darth Vader

The guys start the show talking about electric bikes, foot pain and backyard (and front yard) chickens. The conversation goes to FoodNet statistics and how COVID-19 might impact foodborne illness tracking, reporting and recalls. In the second half of the episode Don and Ben are joined by Gordon Hayburn of Trophy Foods and Andrew Clarke from Loblaws (briefly) to talk about inspections, virtual audits. The show ends on a discussion of Gordon’s experiences in managing COVID-19 issues as a food manufacturer.

You can find the episode here or on iTunes (or elsewhere)

Show notes so you can follow along at home: