How dangerous E. coli find the best place to infect

Scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have learned how a foodborne illness takes hold.

They were looking into E.coli and how it seeks out the most oxygen-free parts of the human colon to cause the worst possible infection in the body.

According to a release, this new discovery shows how the pathogen knows where and when to begin colonizing the colon on the way to making a person sick.

E.coli reportedly can recognize the low-oxygen environment of the large intestine, which is where it can give itself the best odds of establishing a robust infection.

“Bacterial pathogens typically colonize a specific tissue in the host. Therefore, as part of their infection strategies, bacterial pathogens precisely time deployment of proteins and toxins to these specific colonization niches in the human host,” said researcher Melissa Kendall, PhD, of the UVA Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology. “This allows the pathogens to save energy and avoid detection by our immune systems and ultimately cause disease. By knowing how bacterial pathogens sense where they are in the body, we may one day be able to prevent E. coli, as well as other pathogens, from knowing where it is inside a human host and allow it to pass through the body without causing an infection.”

Humans naturally have E.coli in the colon, and most strains do not cause harm.

However, there are several strains that can cause cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, kidney failure and even death, especially in children.

Oxygen diffuses from the intestinal tissues into the gut, and the small intestine contains comparably higher levels than the large E.coli.

The pathogen waits until it has reached the lower oxygen large intestine before trying to establish an infection.

E.coli has a vital asset in the form of RNA, which activates particular genes when oxygen levels get low enough.

That is when the infection can become established, at which time, the bacteria begin to manufacture Shiga toxins, which are harmful to people.

It is believed other bacterial pathogens, like Shigella and Salmonella, may use a similar control mechanism, but more research is needed to establish that.

The findings concerning E.coli have been published in the scientific journal PNAS.

E. coli O157: Which typing is better?

Due to the potential of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) serogroup O157 to cause large food borne outbreaks, national and international surveillance is necessary.

For developing an effective method of molecular surveillance, a conventional method, multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA), and whole-genome sequencing (WGS) analysis were compared. WGS of 369 isolates of EHEC O157 belonging to 7 major MLVA types and their relatives were subjected to comprehensive in silico typing, core genome single nucleotide polymorphism (cgSNP), and core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST) analyses. The typing resolution was the highest in cgSNP analysis. However, determination of the sequence of the mismatch repair protein gene mutS is necessary because spontaneous deletion of the gene could lead to a hypermutator phenotype. MLVA had sufficient typing resolution for a short-term outbreak investigation and had advantages in rapidity and high throughput. cgMLST showed less typing resolution than cgSNP, but it is less time-consuming and does not require as much computer power. Therefore, cgMLST is suitable for comparisons using large data sets (e.g., international comparison using public databases). In conclusion, screening using MLVA followed by cgMLST and cgSNP analyses would provide the highest typing resolution and improve the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of EHEC O157 surveillance.

IMPORTANCE Intensive surveillance for enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) serogroup O157 is important to detect outbreaks and to prevent the spread of the bacterium. Recent advances in sequencing technology made molecular surveillance using whole-genome sequence (WGS) realistic. To develop rapid, high-throughput, and cost-effective typing methods for real-time surveillance, typing resolution of WGS and a conventional typing method, multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA), was evaluated. Nation-level systematic comparison of MLVA, core genome single nucleotide polymorphism (cgSNP), and core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST) indicated that a combination of WGS and MLVA is a realistic approach to improve EHEC O157 surveillance.

Effective surveillance using multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis and whole-genome sequencing for enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Kenichi Lee, Hidemasa Izumiya, Sunao Iyoda, Makoto Ohnishi and EHEC Working Group

DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00728-19

https://aem.asm.org/content/85/17/e00728-19.abstract?etoc

Food fraud: Connecticut meat supplier pleads guilty to fabricating E. coli test results

In the late 1990s, as on-farm food safety programs started to gain traction at the producer end – and a requirement by retailers – I had a couple of memorable conversations.

Genetically engineered Bt-corn was introduced in 1996 and growers loved it. But powerful technology requires powerful management so at least 20 per cent of a corn field had to be non-Bt-corn — a refuge — to stall the development of resistance. A grower told me he didn’t pay attention to that, his neighbor was his refuge.

At an informal meeting of chicken producers, one told me the paperwork wasn’t onerous, he sat down by the fire on Friday nights and filled out a week’s worth.

I told him it was supposed to be in real time.

But neither of these examples are as a Stafford Springs meat supplier who pled guilty to fabricating E. coli test results in federal court.

Officials told Doug Stewart of Fox 61 Memet Beqiri, also known as Matt Beqiri, 32, of Tolland, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty Tuesday in Hartford federal court to a charge related to his meat processing business’s falsification of numerous E. coli test results.

Beqiri pleaded guilty to one count of making and using a false document and aiding and abetting, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on November 12, 2019.  Beqiri was released on a $25,000 bond.

Ryan J. Woolf, the attorney for Matt Beqiri, said his client was made aware of the issue and worked to rectify the situation. He also said this will “never happen again,” and that “no injuries, illness resulted from this issue.”

Beqiri is the owner and general manager of New England Meat Packing, LLC, in Stafford Springs.

Officials said the company is required to perform one generic E. coli carcass swab for every 300 animals slaughtered and to periodically collect ground beef samples for E. coli testing.

Officials said, “Between November 3, 2016 and September 9, 2017, Beqiri authorized the preparation and submission in the company’s Lab Sample Report binder, which the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) reviews, a total of 36 documents relating to 52 separate carcass swabs and ground beef samples on behalf of New England Meat Packing.  The 36 documents were each on the letterhead of a certified laboratory that tests food product samples to ensure safety and wholesomeness and signed by the laboratory director.  The documents stated that the required E. coli testing of samples submitted by New England Meat Packing had been conducted and completed, and that all 52 samples tested negative for E. coli.  In fact, none of the 52 carcass swabs and samples had been submitted or tested by the identified laboratory, or any other laboratory, and the 36 documents were fraudulently prepared using laboratory letterhead obtained from previous testing that New England Meat Packing had conducted with that laboratory.”

Officials said  Beqiri admitted to an investigator with USDA’s FSIS that the documents were fraudulent, and that his business did not collect and submit the samples to the certified laboratory because he did not correlate the potential impact on food safety with his sampling program and wanted to create the appearance he was compliant with all USDA HACCP testing requirements.

There have been no known instances of illnesses reported by anyone who consumed the meat in any of the states where the meat was distributed, according to officials.

Lost luggage with roasted green chiles leads to a food safety issue

Don and I were part of the latest episode of Underunderstood where we chat about the food safety risks associated with roasted green chiles (that started out frozen, and ended up ‘cool to the touch’) being in lost luggage for a couple of days.

Check out the episode for more details.

 

The Complex Underworld of Lost Baggage Delivery

What a difference a grade makes

There was this one time in a 4th year cell biology class about a century ago, that I totally chocked on an exam.

Guess I should have guessed I had anxiety issues back then.

I went to the prof the next day and she let me retake the exam and I aced it.

That’s the thing I’ve learned about anxiety which is like playing goalie in ice hockey: sometimes you’re good, sometimes not so much.

Amy and I have a lot of shared values, but I can see that my anxiety is causing issues.

She’s going to a conference in the U.S. for a couple of weeks with the kid, and I’m going to a new rehab place with my trusted psychiatrist, beginning Monday.

For 3 weeks.

I may write a lot.

I may write a little.

I’ve learned not to make predictions.

Can governments use grades to induce businesses to improve their compliance with regulations? Does public disclosure of compliance with food safety regulations matter for restaurants? Ultimately, this depends on whether grades matter for the bottom line. Based on 28 months of data on more than 15,000 restaurants in New York City, this article explores the impact of public restaurant grades on economic activity and public resources using rigorous panel data methods, including fixedeffects models with controls for underlying food safety compliance. Results show that A grades reduce the probability of restaurant closure and increase revenues while increasing sales taxes remitted and decreasing fines relative to B grades. Conversely, C grades increase the probability of restaurant closure and decrease revenues while decreasing sales taxes remitted relative to B grades. These findings suggest that policy makers can incorporate public information into regulations to more strongly incentivize compliance.

Michah W. Rothbart, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Thad D. Calabrese, Zachary Papper, Todor Mijanovich, Rachel Meltzer, Diana Silver

https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.13091

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/puar.13091

E. coli O157, England and Wales

I am fascinated with viruses, and we’re all hosts on a viral planet.

We used whole-genome sequencing to investigate the evolutionary context of an emerging highly pathogenic strain of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 in England and Wales.

A timed phylogeny of sublineage IIb revealed that the emerging clone evolved from a STEC O157:H7 stx-negative ancestor ≈10 years ago after acquisition of a bacteriophage encoding Shiga toxin (stx) 2a, which in turn had evolved from a stx2c progenitor ≈20 years ago. Infection with the stx2a clone was a significant risk factor for bloody diarrhea (OR 4.61, 95% CI 2.24–9.48; p<0.001), compared with infection with other strains within sublineage IIb. Clinical symptoms of cases infected with sublineage IIb stx2c and stx-negative clones were comparable, despite the loss of stx2c. Our analysis highlighted the highly dynamic nature of STEC O157:H7 Stx-encoding bacteriophages and revealed the evolutionary history of a highly pathogenic clone emerging within sublineage IIb, a sublineage not previously associated with severe clinical symptoms.

Highly pathogenic clone of shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7, England and Wales, December 2018

Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 24 no. 12

Lisa Byrne, Timothy Dallman, Natalie Adams, Amy Mikhail, Noel McCarthy, and Claire Jenkins

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/24/12/18-0409_article

E. coli in eastern South Dakota

The South Dakota department of health is investigating several cases of E. coli in northeastern South Dakota.

The cases are in and around the Sisseton area.

According to state epidemiologist Joshua Clayton, some of the symptoms of E-Coli are bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain without any fever.

Those who have symptoms should see their medical provider and get tested. Clayton also said the state is still working to determine the source of the E-Coli.

“At this point, we have not identified a single source that’s causing the illnesses up in the area,” Clayton said. “But we are investigating to identify what might be common among the cases that we know of. The department of health is contacting those individuals and identifying where they may have been the time leading up to their illness.”

UK PHE issues advice to people travelling to Egypt

What terrible writing.

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All travellers had been to the Hurghada region of Egypt. Public Health England’s (PHE’s) scientists are gathering further information to understand the cause of these infections.

E. coli can cause an unpleasant diarrhoeal illness with stomach cramps and occasionally fever. Most people will recover without the need for medical treatment, but younger and older people may go on to develop complications of the infection, leading to kidney failure. This rare condition is called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), which in very rare circumstances can be fatal.

E. coli is caught through ingesting contaminated food or water.

PHE recommends travellers to the region to: where possible, avoid eating salads and uncooked vegetables;

only eat fruit they can peel avoid unpasteurised milk, cheese and ice cream

avoid food that has been left uncovered in warm environments and exposed to flies ensure all meat is cooked thoroughly before you eat it, avoiding any meat that is pink or cold avoid ice, unless made with filtered or bottled water, and tap water, even when brushing teeth

only drink bottled water or use ice made from bottled/filtered water

wash your hands thoroughly after visiting the toilet, and always before preparing or eating food. Alcohol gel can be helpful (but not entirely effective) when hand washing facilities are not available

when swimming, try and avoid swallowing water where possible and supervise children when swimming.

don’t swim whilst ill

For more information, visit NHS.UK.

16 sick: Farm visits can be risky: E. coli outbreak in Iceland raises worries about infection spreading further

Andie Fontaine of Grapevine writes that 16 children have been diagnosed with E. coli, and concerns have been raised that tourists may spread it further, RÚV reports.

The outbreak is purported to have originated in Efstadal 2, a farm and restaurant near Laugarvatn, after a group of school children visited the place, with some of them contracting E. coli. To be clear: none of the food nor any of the employees tested positive for E. coli. Rather, it is all but certain the bacteria originated from the faecal matter of calves on the farm.

Health authorities have pointed out that there are many rural restaurants in Iceland that are located near farms, prompting a more thorough investigation into stopping the infection’s spread. Further, these locations are visited by many tourists, which could potentially increase the risk of spreading E. coli.

21 sick: Ground bison products recalled due to E. coli 0121 and 0103

Little Powell would get them.

Company / Firm:

Northfork Bison Distributions Inc.

Distribution:

National

Extent of the distribution:

Consumer

Contents

Recall details

Recalled products

What you should do

Background

Illnesses

Photos

Public enquiries and media

Recall details

Ottawa, July 16, 2019 – Northfork Bison Distributions Inc. is voluntarily recalling ground bison products from the marketplace due to possible E. coli O121 and O103 contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size UPC Code(s) on Product
Natural Frontier Foods Bison – ground meat 280 g 6 76842 00147 7 EXP 190311
EXP 190314
EXP 190315
EXP 190316
EXP 190317
EXP 190318
Sensations Extra Lean Ground Bison 280 g 6 23682 11159 0 EXP 190311
EXP 190314
EXP 190315
EXP 190316
EXP 190317
EXP 190318
La Terre des Bisons Bison ground (lean) 1.5 lb 96768420002598 Packed on 19-02-22
Packed on 19-02-25
Packed on 19-02-26
Packed on 19-02-27
Packed on 19-02-28
Packed on 19-03-01
Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch Bison ground regular 1.25 kg 86768420002577 Packed on 19-02-22
Packed on 19-02-25
Packed on 19-02-26
Packed on 19-02-27
Packed on 19-02-28
Packed on 19-03-01
Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch Bison ground regular 4.54 kg /10 lb 86768420002263 Packed on 19-02-22
Packed on 19-02-25
Packed on 19-02-26
Packed on 19-02-27
Packed on 19-02-28
Packed on 19-03-01
Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch Bison ground 10 lbs regular 4.54 kg 96768420111061 Packed on 19-02-22
Packed on 19-02-25
Packed on 19-02-26
Packed on 19-02-27
Packed on 19-02-28
Packed on 19-03-01
Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch Bison Ground 1 l b regular 0.45 kg / 1 lb 96768420111054 Packed on 19-02-22
Packed on 19-02-25
Packed on 19-02-26
Packed on 19-02-27
Packed on 19-02-28
Packed on 19-03-01
Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch Bison Burger 20 x 8oz 2 lb 96768420111092 Packed on 19-02-22
Packed on 19-02-25
Packed on 19-02-26
Packed on 19-02-27
Packed on 19-02-28
Packed on 19-03-01
Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch Bison Burger 4oz x 4 1 lb 96768420111184 Packed on 19-02-22
Packed on 19-02-25
Packed on 19-02-26
Packed on 19-02-27
Packed on 19-02-28
Packed on 19-03-01

What you should do

If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, call your doctor.

Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

Food contaminated with E. coli O121 and O103 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea. In severe cases of illness, some people may have seizures or strokes, need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis or live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die.