We’re all hosts on a viral planet, coronavirus edition

As cases of coronavirus skyrocket — a World Health Organisation adviser has warned that as much as two-thirds of the world’s population could catch the disease — we can have faith that televangelist Jim Bakker claims his magic “Silver Solution” will kill the coronavirus within 12 hours.

Bakker, the disgraced and infamous Trump-loving televangelist who spent time in prison after bilking his followers out of $158 million, made the claim that his magic “Silver Solution” would cure the coronavirus within 12 hours while discussing the product with Dr. Sherrill Sellman, a supposed naturopath, on his television program earlier this week:

Jim Bakker says if you mock Jim Bakker, God’s going to punish you!

Welcome to 21st century hucksterism.

I haven’t written much about coronavirus because there has been no confirmed food-link, but it is transmissible, and spreading fast.

Globally:

  • 63,851 infected
  • 1115 deaths
  • 4846 recoveries
  • 15 cases in Australia 
  • 12 Australians infected on Diamond Princess cruise ship
  • Of the 4 Victorian cases, 3 have recovered and one person is stable and expected to be discharged this week.

It’s not a war: FDA arming itself with science to help prevent Cyclospora infections

Steven Musser Ph.D., Deputy Director for Scientific Operations, FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and Alexandre da Silva, Ph.D., Lead Parasitologist at CFSAN’s Office of Applied Research and Safety Assessment, write that Cyclospora cayetanensis is so small that it can only be seen with a microscope. However, there is nothing small about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s work to help protect consumers from the foodborne illness that this parasite can cause.

Of course it’s small. So are the trillion of microorganisms inside each of us.

Cyclospora has been on the public radar since at least 1996.

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by consumption of foods, mainly fresh produce, that are contaminated with Cyclospora. The FDA has been working to help prevent contaminated product from reaching consumers, gathering the scientific knowledge that will help to better detect the parasite in food and the environment, and gathering data to better understand how food is contaminated by the parasite and help prevent contamination in the future. We’re also sharing what we know with stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

Because several past outbreaks have been associated with fresh herbs, the FDA has been conducting surveillance sampling of fresh cilantro, parsley and basil. A quarterly update on this food surveillance study was released today. As this effort continues, our goal is to collect enough samples to provide a precise estimate of the prevalence of contamination of Cyclospora in our food supply, enabling us to better understand our vulnerability to Cyclospora contamination.     

The FDA is also acting on what we already know about where Cyclospora is found and how contamination can be prevented.   

In 2019, 10% of the Cyclospora infections reported between May and August were linked to a multi-state outbreak associated with fresh imported basil that started in mid-June and was declared over in October. FDA increased its screening at the border of basil exported by the company tied to the outbreak before the company voluntarily recalled its product and ceased shipping while corrective measures were implemented.

The FDA is also tracking contamination in domestically-grown produce. The first confirmed evidence of Cyclospora in domestically grown produce was detected in 2018 in cilantro, a finding not associated with an outbreak of illnesses. As with bacterial pathogens, if the parasite is found on produce, the FDA follows up with inspections and sampling, working with the business to take the actions needed to protect public health.

The FDA has been reaching out to farmers to increase awareness of Cyclospora and actions that can be taken on the farm to reduce the likelihood of contamination. For example, ways to control sources of contamination include proper use, maintenance and cleaning of toilet and handwashing facilities. We created education and outreach materials for farmers, including the Cyclosporiasis and Fresh Produce Fact Sheet

In late 2014, the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition established a Foodborne Parasitology Research Program, and in collaboration with the CDC, has been sequencing the genomes of several different strains of C. cayetanensis, enabling the development of genetic typing methods. In 2016, we created a genome database named “CycloTrakr” to be used as a public repository of genomic data at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). This is an important first step towards the goal of linking, in real-time, the genetic fingerprints of Cyclospora in contaminated food and sick people to pinpoint the source of the outbreaks.

The agency has also pioneered ways to detect the parasite, developing and validating new methods to test for Cyclospora in produce and water. The first of these new methods was used for the first time in 2018 to confirm the presence of the parasite in a salad mix product tied to an outbreak that sickened hundreds of people. 

In July 2019, the FDA made its second major advance in Cyclospora detection, completing studies that resulted in a novel, validated method to test agricultural water for the presence of the parasite. Water used on farms is a potential source of the contaminants that cause foodborne illnesses. Analysts from FDA laboratories are being trained in the use of this method for regulatory testing. 

Super sanitation cleaning: Caribbean Princess cruise ship turned back to US after more than 300 catch gastro bug

The Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess Ship left the U.S. on Feb 2 — and after more than a week at sea, was forced to turn back to the U.S. early when it was denied entry to the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Princess was set to have a 14-day trip around the Caribbean, but was forced to turn back to the U.S.

The cruise’s early return comes after it was denied entry to Trinidad and Tobago by the Government of Barbados due to the outbreak on board, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health.

Princess Cruises said in a statement to The Sun that the ship, which was on a 14-day cruise in the Caribbean, is now on its way back to the Port of Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

The Caribbean Princess ship is scheduled to dock at 7 a.m. on Thursday, three days ahead of its previous Feb. 16 return.

A total of 299 passengers and 22 crew members of the 4,196 people on board got sick with a gastrointestinal bug, causing vomiting and diarrhea.

Princess Cruises said the cruise has “curtailed its voyage out of an abundance of caution due to guests reporting symptoms due to a mild gastrointestinal illness,” in a statement to The Sun.

The ship will undergo a “super sanitation cleaning” when it reaches the Florida port, according to a statement from the CDC.

49 sick: Glazed eclairs cause mass poisoning in two Armenian provinces

News Az reports the poisoning cases were reported in the town of Sisian in the southern province of Syunik and in Vanadzor and Stepanavan in the northern province of Lori.
According to the ministry, all the patients had symptoms of diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. A preliminary diagnosis said the cause of poisoning was an intestinal infection.

The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention said 41 patients were traced in Lori, and 8 in Syunik. Currently, 33 patients are still being treated in Lori and 8 in Syunik. Doctors assess the patients’ condition as satisfactory. According to the press service of the Food Safety Inspectorate, laboratory studies found salmonella in éclairs.

It said the Zeytun Sweet company was inspected but no violations of sanitary standards were found, but it turned out that the éclairs did not have a conformity assessment and did not have a safety certificate. Zeytun Sweet Company was ordered to ban the sale of the product and recall éclairs from the market and destroy them.

In addition, samples of eggs, oil, spread, as well as finished products used for the production of éclairs were taken for further examination.

Hundreds of gallons of homemade booze found before inmate Super Bowl party, CA jail says

Officers at a San Francisco Bay Area jail confiscated an enormous stash of homebrew alcohol concocted by prisoners for a Super Bowl blowout party, sheriff’s officials told Don Sweeney of The Sacramento Bee.

“There will be no super bowl party at Santa Rita Jail tomorrow,” the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department wrote on an Instagram post Saturday showing officers posing with trash bags of green-, yellow-, blue- and orange-colored alcohol.

The concoction, called pruno, is commonly produced in prisons and jails by fermenting “fruit, sugar, water, and other common ingredients for several days in a sealed plastic bag,” reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But it’s also a recipe for botulism, particularly since the process isn’t exactly sanitary, the CDC warns.

Use a thermometer and cook your damn food: Tapeworm removed from Texas man’s brain after more than a decade

WMC 5 reports a Texas man has successfully had a tapeworm removed from his brain in what doctors are calling a miracle.

Doctors think the tapeworm had been growing slowly ever since the man, identified only as Gerardo, contracted it from eating undercooked pork in Mexico more than a decade ago.

Gerardo says he got an MRI after fainting last year while playing soccer. He says he had been having headaches and “feeling off” for months prior to the fall.

“It’s very intense, very strong because it made me sweat too, sweat from the pain, pain in the head, and then, I would vomit from the pain,” said Gerardo in Spanish.

Even so, Gerardo was shocked when the MRI revealed a tapeworm in his brain.

After a complex surgery to remove the tapeworm, Gerardo says he’s back to his normal self. He has even returned to work.

Dr. Jordan Amadio, neurosurgeon at Ascension Seton, says the man’s case was “rare and truly extraordinary.” Interestingly, a tapeworm had also been found in Gerardo’s sister’s brain years earlier.

“In certain regions of the country, like Texas and California, this can be more common. So, there’s definitely something, I think, for every medical professional to be aware of. It is not commonly seen and can actually masquerade as different things,” Amadio said.

Several kinds of tapeworms, which are found worldwide, cause the parasitic infection taeniasis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eating raw or undercooked beef or pork is the primary risk factor for becoming infected.

Don’t eat dead snakes or food in containers that held dead snakes

The Hindustan Times reports at least 50 people from Odisha’s coastal Kendrapara district, most of them women and children, were taken ill after they consumed food from a container that had a dead snake in it, said an official on Thursday.

The incident happened during a community feast at Maa Shankatatarini temple in Chandan Nagar Deuli village under Pattamundai block of Kendrapara district where 30 families were having their meal. Many of the people were hospitalised after they started to vomit, said the official.

“They showed signs of food poisoning. However, many of them were discharged after administration of intravenous fluid,” said the medical officer of Pattamundai Sub Divisional Hospital, Chandra Sekhar Das. The community feast was organised by a women self help group of the area.

The presence of the dead snake was detected during the washing of the utensils.

And this is the only U2 song I can tolerate, largely because it’s rooted in a Tom Robbins novel. Otherwise, U2 is bloated and overrated.

Toxo in Canadian deer hunters eating undercooked venison from Illinois

We conducted a recent investigation in Quebec, Canada, concerning Canadian deer hunters who went to the United States to hunt deer and returned with symptoms of fever, severe headache, myalgia, and articular pain of undetermined etiology. Further investigation identified that a group of 10 hunters from Quebec attended a hunting retreat in Illinois (USA) during November 22–December 4, 2018.

Six of the 10 hunters had similar symptoms and illness onset dates. Serologic tests indicated a recent toxoplasmosis infection for all symptomatic hunters, and the risk factor identified was consumption of undercooked deer meat. Among asymptomatic hunters, 2 were already immune to toxoplasmosis, 1 was not immune, and the immune status of 1 remains unknown. Outbreaks of acute toxoplasmosis infection are rare in North America, but physicians should be aware that such outbreaks could become more common.

Acute toxoplasmosis among Canadian deer hunters associated with consumption of undercooked deer meat hunted in the U.S.

Emerging Infectious Diseases, vol. 26, no. 2

Colette Gaulin , Danielle Ramsay, Karine Thivierge, Joanne Tataryn, Ariane Courville, Catherine Martin, Patricia Cunningham, Joane Désilets, Diane Morin, and Réjean Dion

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/2/19-1218_article?deliveryName=DM17555

Bugs on trolleys

We’ve been in Australia for over eight years now.

The girls are off in the French territory of New Caledonia doing Amy-directed French biz and yesterday they went to Lifou, Island, part of the Loyalty Islands which the French decided would be useful way back when.

I look forward to their tales.

I spoke at an Australian food safety conference in 2004 on the Gold Coast and mentioned something about grocery trolleys in an interview and that segment made it to the national news.

Not my intent.

I was trying to point out possible short cummings of food safety for shoppers, and subsequently spent four hours going through my local Coles – biggest supermarket in Australia – with the vp of food safety, pointing out their vulnerabilities, like:

  • if you’re going to cut a melon in half, please ensure it is kept at 4C (better not to cut it in half)
  • label frozen meat products properly i.e. is it needle tenderized, are those frozen dished raw frozen or cooked frozen
  • what criteria do you have for produce on shelves.

The objective of this study was to identify food safety risk factors associated with supermarket trolleys (grills and handles) and handheld baskets.  Indicator microorganisms evaluated were those detected by aerobic plate count (APC), yeast and molds (YM), Enterobacteriaceae (EB). Environmental listeria (EL), coliforms (CF), and E. coli (EC).  In addition, listeria monocytogenes, staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli O157 and salmonella sp. Were tested for.  Trolley grills (n=36) had 2.7 x 102 CFU/cm2.  Trolley handles (n=36) had 2.7 x 106 of CF and 5.2 CFU/cm2 of YM.  The bottom of handheld baskets (n=25) had 3.5 x 105 CFU/cm2 of CF and 5.07 CFU/cm2 of EC.  S. aureus was found on 96% of the baskets, 50% of the trolley handles (18 out of 36 samples), and 42% of the trolleys’ grills.  E. coli O157 was identified on 17% of baskets, 3% on trolley grills, and 3% on handles.  Salmonella sp. was detected on 16% of baskets and 8% of trolley grills.  L. monocytogenes was detected on 17% of the bottoms of handheld baskets but on none of the other samples.  These results suggest the need for implementation of sanitation programs to regularly clean trolleys and baskets, as well as for consumer education. 

Microbial contamination of grocery shopping trolleys and baskets in west Texas, 2020

Food Protection Trends vol. 40 no. 1

Alexandra Calle, Breyan Montoya, Andrea English, and Mindy Brashears

https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trilix/fpt_20200102/index.php#/10

Researchers uncover early adherence step in intestinal transit of shigella

The bacterial pathogen Shigella, often spread through contaminated food or water, is a leading cause of mortality in both children and older adults in the developing world. Although scientists have been studying Shigella for decades, no effective vaccine has been developed, and the pathogen has acquired resistance to many antibiotics. The recent discovery of an early adherence step in the infection cycle by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) could provide a new therapeutic target or even a new method for vaccine development.

As it moves through the digestive system, Shigella traverses the small intestine and subsequently infects the large intestine, causing cramping, diarrhea and dehydration in the disease called shigellosis.

“We wanted to determine how Shigella makes its first contact with epithelial cells in the early stages of disease development,” says Dr. Christina Faherty, senior author on the study published in mSphere. “Because of certain gene sequence annotations, and the way that Shigella appeared following growth in standard laboratory media, it was believed that Shigella strains do not produce fimbriae or other adherence factors.” Fimbriae are short hair-like fibers that bacterial cells use to adhere to individual epithelial cells to instigate infection.

The work of Faherty and the research team has uncovered evidence of fimbriae that aid adherence to epithelial cells, an important step in the start of a shigellosis infection. “We mimicked the conditions that Shigella would face in its journey through the small intestine by adding bile salts and glucose to laboratory media,” says Faherty. “With this method, we discovered what had been hidden in plain sight before–the gene expression profiles that enabled Shigella to initiate this early step in infection by attaching to the epithelial tissue of the host.”