Proper handwashing requires proper tools: Soap vs. COVID-19

I don’t like the militarization of terms to discuss foodborne or other bugs. The bugs are there, be cool, take steps to reduce risk.

UNSW academics have released a 3D visualisation of soap destroying the coronavirus to remind Australians that simply washing your hands can help stem the pandemic.

(There is nothing simple about handwashing when almost all public restrooms contain blow-dryers instead of paper towels and have controlled water flow rates that would dislodge nothing. It is the friction that helps reduce microbial loads on hands, which is why hospitals are over-flowing with paper towel dispensers.)

Soap counts too.

There’s too much self-aggrandizing in the PR piece, below, but it has pretty pictures.

This scientifically accurate simulation — a collaboration between UNSW Art & Design and UNSW Science — shows soap acting on contaminated skin covered with tiny coronavirus particles.

“With the threat of the second wave upon us, simple hygiene is something everyone can do to prevent the spread of the virus,” UNSW Science’s Professor Pall Thordarson said.

“Soap can destroy the virus on your skin.”

The simulation uses a cinematic approach and evocative animation to deliver a message that’s accessible to adults and children.

“One of the very few pieces of good news about this virus is that it’s actually very fragile — if you wash your hands with soap, the whole virus basically collapses like a house of cards,” Professor Thordarson said.

The simulation was created by UNSW’s 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab, which explores arts- and design-led visualisations of complex scientific and biomedical data. The Lab creates immersive platforms that play out scientific phenomena, such as drug interactions with cancerous cells or interactive personalised scans of strokes to help patients understand their treatment.

“3D visualisations make complex science comprehensible. The creative industries are in a unique position to be able to offer these kinds of innovative educational simulations,” said Associate Professor John McGhee who created the simulation with UNSW 3D Visualisation Aesthetics Lab post-doctoral researcher Dr Andrew Lilja.

What is deep cleaning and how does it work?

It’s a phrase that is bandied about whenever there is an outbreak of foodborne or other microbiological thingies: We didn’t just clean, we did a deep clean.

Sexual connotations aside, what does a deep clean actually mean?

Andrew Brown of The Canberra Times had a go at the subject of deep clean.

While cleaning normally focuses on removing visible signs of mess through vacuuming, dusting and wiping things down, deep cleaning goes one step further.

Deep cleaning involves the use of disinfectant and other chemicals to remove any traces of germs and viruses, including coronavirus.

Part of deep cleaning also involves wiping down every surface in a venue, regardless of whether it has come into direct contact with an infected person or not.

A particular focus is high-frequency touch points, such as light switches, door handles, taps and areas like computer terminals or communal kitchens in office spaces. While high-grade disinfectants are used as part of deep cleaning, other chemicals can also help to remove traces of the virus.

Anthony Bailey, ACT Education Directorate senior director of school cleaning services, said a fine-mist spray was also used as part of deep cleaning efforts in Canberra schools.

“With the fine-mist spray, the chemical settles in areas you can’t normally reach,” Mr Bailey said.

“It’s unlikely people are touching those surfaces, but it’s all about elimination.

One of the ACT’s schools, Lyneham High School, required deep cleaning in March after a student attended the campus while potentially contagious with coronavirus.

Mr Bailey said swab tests of surfaces for traces of coronavirus were also carried out before students and staff members could re-enter the school.

One of the main ways coronavirus has been able to spread is through being picked up by humans after they come into contact with the virus on surfaces. Research is being carried out in a number of places on how long exactly the virus can linger on surfaces and lead to further infections.

Early findings have determined strains of COVID-19 can stay alive for several hours or even days, depending on the type of surface it lands on.

According to a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus can last for four hours on copper surfaces, while it can stay on cardboard or paper for 24 hours and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

A similar study published in The Lancet had slightly different findings, with the virus lasting for three hours on tissue paper, while traces were still detected on cloth and wooden materials for two days.

Associate professor at the Australian National University medical school, Sanjaya Senanayake, said the Lancet study also found the virus could stay on surfaces such as surgical masks for up to one week after they were worn.

“The two studies were slightly different in the types of materials that were used, but clearly the virus can survive on surfaces for some time,” associate professor Senanayake said.

“Maybe after half an hour on a surface, there’s a lot more virus on it, and therefore people are more likely to be infected if they come into contact.

“By the seventh day, the virus might still be around on surfaces, but may not be enough to cause an infection.”

At its core, deep cleaning is about attacking the virus at every possible location it could be in a building.

However, for a virus that’s devastated nations around the world and locked down cities across Australia, associate professor Senanayake said COVID-19 was remarkably easy to kill.

“It’s an enveloped virus, meaning it’s got an outer covering and it’s very susceptible to things,” he said.

“Despite it being this terrible thing that’s caused a pandemic, it’s easy to kill with things like standard detergents as well as soap and water.”

Using things like detergents might be enough to kill off the virus, but associate professor Senanayake said using just disinfectant or chemicals on their own might not have the desired effect.

“If you put just disinfectant on those areas, some of the virus particles might be able to hide,” he said.

“Surfaces should be cleaned with detergent first and then disinfected after that with something like 70 per cent alcohol or bleach.”

It should also be noted that any cleaning of surfaces suspected of having traces of coronavirus should be done with personal protection, such as a mask.

Rotten chicken supplier in Jordan turns himself in

Seven people were arrested in relation to the second mass food poisoning incident in Ain al-Basha.

The owner of the restaurant and six of his employees were charged with four offences — causing harm, handling food in unsuitable conditions that made it harmful to human health, handling food that is not safe for human consumption and practicing a craft that causes harm.

The seven individuals will be detained for one week at Al-Balqa Reform and Rehabilitation Center (nice name — dp).

The death of a forty-year-old man, two days after the death of a child, after more than 800 people were exposed to food poisoning for eating contaminatedShawarma meals from a restaurant in the Al-Baqa’a area, northwest of Amman.

The official “Kingdom” television quoted the Minister of Health, Saad Jaber, as announcing the ministry’s registration, “a second death from the mass poisoning incident in al-Baq’a.”

The Ministry of Health announced in a statement last Wednesday that a 5-year-old child had died in hospital due to food poisoning.

“The laboratory tests … showed the presence of bacterial contamination in meat and chicken with the ‘Intercoxis Vials’ and’ Campylobacter” bacterium, “the ministry said.

And the official “Kingdom” television quoted the assistant secretary general for primary health care in the ministry, Adnan Ishaq, as saying that “the failure to cool poultry has spoiled the food and caused poisoning.”

CDC reports 641 cases of Cyclospora linked to recalled salad mixes nationwide

Since the last case count update on July 9, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 132 new laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections have been reported, including 16 from three new states: Georgia, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

As of  July 22, 2020, a total of 641 people with laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infections associated with this outbreak have been reported from 11 states: Georgia (1), Illinois (198), Iowa (195), Kansas (5), Minnesota (73), Missouri (57) Nebraska (55), North Dakota (6), Pennsylvania (2), South Dakota (13) and Wisconsin (36). The ill person from Georgia purchased and ate a bagged salad product while traveling in Missouri.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 11, 2020 to July 5, 2020. Ill people range in age from 10 to 92 years with a median age of 59 and 52% are female. Of 636 people with available information, 37 people (6%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 4 to 6 weeks. If the number of cases reported by CDC is different from the number reported by state or local health officials, data reported by local jurisdictions should be considered the most up to date. Any differences may be due to the timing of reporting and website updates.

This investigation is ongoing.

The CDC says that it is specifically examining salad ingredients (iceberg lettuce, carrots, red cabbage) for the purposes of its investigation. The affected products include salad mixes made by Fresh Express, Hy-Vee Inc., Little Salad Bar, Signature Farms, Marketside and Hy-Vee. The products were sold at ALDI, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, ShopRite, and Walmart locations.

The products were manufactured in Streamwood, Illinois at a Fresh Express production facility.

“Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by the Cyclospora parasite,” the CDC says. “A person may become infected after ingesting contaminated food or water. Common symptoms include severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, body aches and fatigue. The infection is treated with antibiotics and most people respond quickly to treatment.”

Specifically, the CDC says the products with a Z178 code or lower and “Best by” date that runs through July 14, 2020 are the ones potentially affected by the contamination.

However, only Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin have reported cases of Cyclospora related to eating the salad mix. According to the CDC, the dates of the illness range from May 11, 2020 to July 5, 2020, with 37 people hospitalized as of Friday. Patients are ages 10 to 92 years with a median age of 59 years as of Friday’s data. No related deaths have been reported. People can go 4 to 6 weeks before noticing any symptoms of Cyclospora, the CDC says.

Write down what you ate in the two weeks before you started to get sick.

Report your illness to the health department.

Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.

The CDC issued its recall warnings June 19, and Giant Eagle issued a recall on its Fresh Express products on June 29.

On June 27, 2020, Fresh Express Fresh Express brand and private label brand salad products produced at its Streamwood, IL facility that contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and/or carrots due to possible Cyclospora contamination.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora infections occurring in three Canadian provinces. Exposure to certain Fresh Express brand salad products containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage, has been identified as a likely source of the outbreak.

  • Epidemiologic and traceback evidence indicates that bagged salad mix containing iceberg lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage produced by Fresh Express is a likely source of this outbreak.
  • CDC and FDA continue to investigate to determine which ingredient or ingredients in the salad mix was contaminated and whether other products are a source of illnesses.
  • CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

As parasites might in your blood

Human Parasitic Diseases: A Diagnostic Atlas is a comprehensive and invaluable resource for parasitologists, microbiologists, pathologists, and infectious disease practitioners. Lawrence R. Ash, PhD, and Thomas C. Orihel, PhD, have curated a beautiful photographic series of common and rare parasites shown in tissue, blood, feces, and free-living forms. Organized by phylum, genera, and species, this book provides detailed yet practical assistance in identifying and diagnosing human parasitic diseases. Each section starts with a brief overview of the epidemiology, life cycle, transmission, and clinical manifestations of the parasite, detailed enough to orient the reader to the clinical relevance of the pathogen without distracting from its macroscopic and microscopic diagnostic features. The authors provide up-to-date references of each parasite’s clinical manifestations and diagnostic procedures.

In addition to the beautiful, high-quality photomicrographs, the authors supplement the book with detailed diagrams clarifying the key microscopic diagnostic features. These details enable the reader to differentiate between closely related parasites.

This book offers many unique aspects. First, the authors provide multiple images comparing subtle differences in the appearance of the same parasite, which will reassure anyone who has struggled to identify a blood smear of a parasite that does not quite fit the textbook example. These images emphasize the subtlety of microscopic identification and pattern recognition. Second, this atlas emphasizes the appearance of parasites in histologic findings and tissue. The authors acknowledge the difficulty of making a histologic diagnosis on the basis of fragments of larger parasites or those that have degenerated in tissues. Third, the book contains a 1911 Arthur Looss quote emphasizing the interconnectedness of animal and human parasites and highlighting the need to consider animal pathogens that have rarely infected humans. This perspective is relevant in a world with increasingly immunosuppressed patients and unprecedented levels of travel and global trade. Therefore, this book is a compelling reference volume for pathologists and microbiology or clinical infectious disease training programs.

Particularly useful for today’s clinical infectious diseases practitioners is the last section of the book, which covers artifacts for which macroscopic or microscopic appearance could be easily confused even by an experienced pathologist. This section is a helpful reminder of the diagnostic challenges facing clinicians seeing patients who believe they have an infestation but in whom no parasite can be found.

I will certainly use this atlas as a reference and training guide and will most likely browse through its pages before recertification examinations. Any reader with an inclination towards parasitology will appreciate the authors and their colleagues’ fascinating careers in this field.

Human Parasitic Diseases: A diagnostic atlas, August 2020

Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 26 no. 8

Lawrence Ash & Thomas Orihel

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/8/20-0270_article?deliveryName=USCDC_331-DM33397

Tesco shopper ‘vomited for 12 hours after biting into dead mouse in tray bake’

Sounds gross, hard to verify.

Tesco shopper has claimed she became physically sick for several hours after she found a dead mouse in an Italian chicken tray bake.

Cath McCall Smith, from Durham, said she felt unwell after she bit into the £3.75 teatime treat and claimed she found the rodent’s body inside.

The 57-year-old at first thought she had gnawed a piece of bone – but soon learned it was, in fact, the corpse of a dead mouse.

Ms Smith told The Sun: “I thought I had hit a bit of bone. I moved the chicken around and was horrified when she looked down and found the mouse.

“I’ve been sick for 12 hours. I’m still a bit unwell.”

A spokesman for Tesco told the publication: “We take all customer complaints very seriously and are carrying out a full investigation into what happened here.”

Daily Star Online has approached Tesco for comment.

Speed at the sound of lonliness

I’m still troubled the world lost such a gifted and incisive songwriter as John Prine to coronavirus.

And I’m lonely, because I live downstairs.

Social distancing and “stay-at-home” orders are essential to contain the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), but there is concern that these measures will increase feelings of loneliness, particularly in vulnerable groups. The present study examined change in loneliness in response to the social restriction measures taken to control the coronavirus spread.

A nationwide sample of American adults (N 1,545; 45% women; ages 18 to 98, M 53.68, SD 15.63) was assessed on three occasions: in late January/early February 2020 (before the outbreak), in late March (during the President’s initial “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign), and in late April (during the “stay-at-home” policies of most states). Contrary to expectations, there were no significant mean-level changes in loneliness across the three assessments (d .04, p .05). In fact, respondents perceived increased support from others over the follow-up period (d .19, p .01). Older adults reported less loneliness overall compared to younger age groups but had an increase in loneliness during the acute phase of the outbreak (d .14, p.05). Their loneliness, however, leveled off after the issuance of stay

Trajectory of loneliness in response to COVID-19, 2020

American Psychological Association

Martina Luchetti, Ji Hyun Lee, Damaris Aschwanden, Amanda Sesker, Jason E. Strickhouser, Antonio Terracciano, and Angelina R. Sutin

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000690

The John Oliver koala chlamydia ward

Rachel Gross of the New York Times writes, the first sign is the smell: smoky, like a campfire, with a hint of urine. The second is the koala’s rear end: If it is damp and inflamed, with streaks of brown, you know the animal is in trouble. Jo, lying curled and unconscious on the examination table, had both.

Jo is a wild koala under the purview of Endeavour Veterinary Ecology, a wildlife consulting company that specializes in bringing sick koala populations back from the brink of disease. Vets noticed on their last two field visits that she was sporting “a suspect bum,” as the veterinarian Pip McKay put it. So they brought her and her 1-year-old joey into the main veterinary clinic, which sits in a remote forest clearing in Toorbul, north of Brisbane, for a full health check.

Ms. McKay already had an inkling of what the trouble might be. “Looking at her, she probably has chlamydia,” she said.

Humans don’t have a monopoly on sexually transmitted infections. Oysters get herpes, rabbits get syphilis, dolphins get genital warts. But chlamydia — a pared-down, single-celled bacterium that acts like a virus — has been especially successful, infecting everything from frogs to fish to parakeets. You might say chlamydia connects us all.

This shared susceptibility has led some scientists to argue that studying, and saving, koalas may be the key to developing a long-lasting cure for humans. “They’re out there, they’ve got chlamydia, and we can give them a vaccine, we can observe what the vaccine does under real conditions,” said Peter Timms, a microbiologist at the University of Sunshine Coast in Queensland. He has spent the past decade developing a chlamydia vaccine for koalas, and is now conducting trials on wild koalas, in the hopes that his formula will soon be ready for wider release. “We can do something in koalas you could never do in humans,” Dr. Timms said.

In koalas, chlamydia’s ravages are extreme, leading to severe inflammation, massive cysts and scarring of the reproductive tract. In the worst cases, animals are left yelping in pain when they urinate, and they develop the telltale smell. But the bacteria responsible is still remarkably similar to the human one, thanks to chlamydia’s tiny, highly conserved genome: It has just 900 active genes, far fewer than most infectious bacteria.

Toxo goes about its biz the mean way

Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that reconfigures its host cell to promote pathogenesis. One consequence of Toxoplasma parasitism is increased migratory activity of host cells, which facilitates dissemination.

Here, we show that Toxoplasma triggers the unfolded protein response (UPR) in host cells through calcium release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We further identify a novel role for the host ER stress sensor protein IRE1 in Toxoplasma pathogenesis. Upon infection, Toxoplasma activates IRE1, engaging its noncanonical role in actin remodeling through the binding of filamin A. By inducing cytoskeletal remodeling via IRE1 oligomerization in host cells, Toxoplasma enhances host cell migration in vitro and dissemination of the parasite to host organs in vivo.

Our study has identified novel mechanisms used by Toxoplasma to induce dissemination of infected cells, providing new insights into strategies for treatment of toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasma gondii co-opts the unfolded protein response to enhance migration and dissemination of infected host cells, 7 July 2020

American Society for Microbiology

Leonardo Augusto, Jennifer Martynowicz, Parth H. Amin, Nada S. Alakhras, Mark H. Kaplan, Ronald C. Wek, William J. Sullivan Jr.

DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00915-20

https://mbio.asm.org/content/11/4/e00915-20

The guitar solo in this still gives me chills

Smarter than your average bear: Trichinosis sends 10 people to the hospital after eating undercooked bear in Russia

Outbreak News Today reports that Russian officials report last week that 10 people from Altai Republic, near the Mongolian border, were hospitalized with trichinosis after consuming undercooked bear cub.

The regional office of Rospotrebnadzor said, “Not all bears, of course, are infected wi. But this sometimes happens, there were simply no such massive cases. We are in control of the situation.”

Earlier, Russians were advised to avoid contact with raw meat and animal blood in Altai, so as not to get infected with bubonic plague. As the infectious disease doctor Ivan Konovalov stated , outbreaks of the plague periodically occur in Russia, where the traditions of local peoples include eating raw animal meat. He emphasized that there is a vaccine against the plague pathogen.

Trichinosis is a parasitic disease caused most commonly by the roundworm Trichinella spiralis. If someone ingests undercooked or raw meat with the encysted larvae, the stomach acid releases the larvae which mature to adults in the intestine.

After about a week the female starts releasing larvae which enter the bloodstream and find their way to skeletal muscle where they encapsulate.

There can be gastrointestinal symptoms mimicking acute food poisoning when there is activity of the adults in the intestine.