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.”

Wiping out scrapie in goats, the genetic way

More consumers are developing a taste for goat cheese, milk, and meat as they become aware of the high protein and great taste of these products. While U.S. goat producers are enjoying this steady trend, they remain focused on keeping their animals healthy, especially from scrapie—a fatal brain disease that affects goats and sheep.

“The goat industry is one of the fastest growing animal industries in agriculture,” says Stephen White, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist. “Not too many years ago, there were only a few hundred thousand goats in the country.” But in January 2018, goats and kids totaled 2.62 million head.

Meat and dairy are the biggest markets, followed by mohair, but goats serve in other unique capacities, says ARS veterinary medical officer David Schneider. Goats are being used to manage weedy areas along highways, get rid of kudzu in the Southeast, and even mow lawns. They’re also used as pack animals to carry supplies through rugged areas.

For any of these businesses, a single outbreak of scrapie could be devastating.

There is no cure or treatment for scrapie, which is in the same family—transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases—as mad cow disease. TSEs are rare degenerative brain disorders characterized by tiny holes that give the brain a “spongy” appearance.

Most often scrapie is transmitted through birth fluids to other goats and sheep, and it can remain infectious in the environment for many years. It was first recognized in sheep in Great Britain and other European countries more than 250 years ago and was first diagnosed in U.S. sheep in 1947 in a Michigan flock.

All animals that get scrapie die. But there is good news from ARS. White and Schneider, who both work at ARS’s Animal Disease Research Unit in Pullman, Washington, are the first to demonstrate by infectious disease challenge that goats with the S146 allele (a different form of a gene) are less susceptible to scrapie over a usual goat lifetime. They also tested the K222 allele in goats. Their research shows that goats with one copy of either the S146 or K222 allele did not develop scrapie after being challenged with infection at birth. The study was published in The Veterinary Journal in 2018.

“Commercial goats raised for either meat or milk age out of herd participation as milkers, dams of commercial offspring, or as sires by around 6 years of age,” White says. In this ongoing ARS research, goats with the resistance alleles have lived beyond this commercial lifetime—up to 7½ years—with no clinical disease and without getting sick.

The only countries considered to be scrapie free are Australia and New Zealand. Currently, if one goat is diagnosed with scrapie on a U.S. farm, all goats are quarantined for life or euthanized. “You couldn’t restock your operation with any susceptible animal,” White says. “The farmer’s operation would be over.”

This research is good news for both goat and sheep producers because it could help with eradication efforts. Before U.S. producers can take advantage of import and export markets, scrapie must be eradicated from the United States and meet the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) criteria for disease freedom.

Origins of mad cow disease

Aristos Georgiou of News Week reports an international team of scientists has said that they may have identified the origin of mad cow disease. Known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the neurodegenerative disease destroys the brain and spinal cord in cattle, causing death.

Since BSE first appeared in the 1980s in the United Kingdom, scientists have tried to identify how the disease emerged, however, no one hypothesis has been confirmed.

For a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team of scientists investigated the origins of BSE by injecting a particular variant of scrapie disease into mice which have been genetically modified with bovine DNA.

The researchers say that, unexpectedly, the injection of the scrapie strain into the genetically modified mice resulted in the propagation of classical mad cow disease prions. These prions are present in natural form in the scrapie variant.

This observation indicates that the illness could be transmitted between different species and that the modified mice could develop mad cow disease, according to the study.

Olivier Andreoletti, an author of the paper from the French National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA,) told AFP that the modified mice are “a very good model, which works well in terms of knowing what would happen if one exposed cows to those prions.”

He noted that the results provide, for the first time, and “experimentally underpinned explanation” for the appearance of mad cow disease in the U.K. in the 1980s.

After emerging, the disease spread in cattle across Europe, North America and other regions of the globe. This process was exacerbated by the fact that cows were being given feed which contained tissue from other cows infected with the disease.

‘No biggie’: 11 gastro cases at Australian aged care home

An aged care home criticised for its handling of an influenza outbreak which killed 10 people has suffered a gastro outbreak.

A staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, raised concerns about the way the situation had been handled.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said the first case was identified last Thursday with eight residents and three staff affected, with the department notified on Tuesday (that in early Dec.).

Respect Aged Care chief operating officer Brett Menzie said it wasn’t a major outbreak.

The dates and number of infected people differed to those provided to DHHS, with Mr Menzie stating five residents and three staff members were infected.

Mr McKenzie said a resident first showed signs of gastro on Sunday, with an outbreak – which occurs when three people show symptoms – declared on Monday.

He said the Health Department had been notified and infection control procedures enacted.

“St John’s Retirement Village Nursing Home did not implement a coordinated and timely infection control program that was effective in identifying and containing infection during the influenza and respiratory outbreak of August and September 2017,” a report found.

Lamb mince as a source of toxo in Australia

Objective: Toxoplasmosis may follow consumption of undercooked meat containing Toxoplasma gondii cysts. Lamb is considered to pose the highest risk for contamination across meats. Red meat is often served undercooked, yet there are no current data on T. gondii contamination of Australian sourced and retailed lamb. We sought to address this gap in public health knowledge.

Methods: Lamb mincemeat was purchased at the supermarket counter three times weekly for six months. T. gondii was detected by real‐time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of DNA extracted from the meat following homogenisation. Purchases were also tested for common foodborne bacterial pathogens.

Results: Conservative interpretation of PCR testing (i.e. parasite DNA detected in three of four tests) gave a probability of 43% (95% confidence interval, 32%–54%) that lamb mincemeat was contaminated with T. gondii. None of the purchases were contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella species or S. enterica serovar Typhimurium, indicating sanitary meat processing.

Conclusions: Australian lamb is commonly contaminated with T. gondii. Future studies should be directed at testing a range of red meats and meat cuts.

Implications for public health: Consuming undercooked Australian lamb has potential to result in toxoplasmosis. There may be value in health education around this risk.

Lamb as a potential source of toxoplasma gondii infection for Australians

December 2019

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

Abby C. Dawson, Liam M. Ashander, Binoy Appukuttan, Richard J. Woodman, Jitender P. Dubey, Harriet Whiley, Justine R. Smith

https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12955

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1753-6405.12955

First reported case of Shewanella haliotis in the region of the Americas—New York, December 2018

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that on December 18, 2018, a man aged 87 years was evaluated in a hospital emergency department in Flushing, New York, for right lower abdominal quadrant pain. Evaluation included a computed tomography scan, which showed acute appendicitis with multiple abscesses measuring ≤3 cm. The patient was admitted, a percutaneous drain was placed, and 5 mL of an opaque jelly-like substance was aspirated and sent for culture and testing for antimicrobial sensitivities.

Gram stain of the culture revealed gram-negative rods, and culture revealed monomicrobial 1–2-mm yellowish-brown mucoid colonies. Sequencing of the isolate’s 16S ribosomal RNA revealed >99.8% homology with Shewanella haliotis strain DW01 in the GenBank database. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing indicated that the isolate was susceptible to aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, certain penicillins, and broad-spectrum cephalosporins. Biochemical tests were performed to characterize isolate.

Phylogenetic analysis indicates that S. haliotis strain DW01 is the most recent ancestor of this clinical isolate. This is the first documented case of a S. haliotis appendix infection.

S. haliotis is an emerging human pathogen, first isolated from abalone gut microflora in 2007 (1). The geographic distribution of human infections caused by S. haliotis is concentrated in Asia, with most reports coming from China, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand (2). No cases of S. haliotis human infections had been reported in the World Health Organization’s Region of the Americas.

The patient was treated empirically with intravenous piperacillin-tazobactam while in the hospital and was discharged with a prescription for oral amoxicillin-clavulanic acid. At a follow-up visit 13 days later, he was recovering well. Empiric treatment of Shewanella spp. can be challenging; limited and varying antibiotic susceptibility profiles have been reported (2,3). This patient’s isolate was susceptible to several classes of antimicrobials, but resistance to certain antibiotics has been observed in this isolate and others (2). In a case series of 16 patients from Martinique, Shewanella spp. sensitivities to piperacillin-tazobactam and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid were reported to be 98% and 75%, respectively (3).

Risk factors for or potential vectors of Shewanella spp. infections are unidentified in up to 40%–50% of cases (4). S. haliotis is ecologically distributed in marine environments, including broad contamination of cultivated shellfish. Although infection following consumption of seafood is seldom reported (5), consumption of raw seafood could be an important vehicle for foodborne illnesses and outbreaks. This patient reported consuming raw salmon 10 days before becoming ill but had no other marine exposures or exposure to ill contacts. The time from potential exposure to onset of abdominal pain in this patient is consistent with that reported in the literature on Shewanella spp. (3–49 days). The epidemiologic exposure history supports the link between raw fish consumption and infection.

No other organisms were isolated in this patient; in the Martinique case series of Shewanella spp., one half of infections were monomicrobial as well (3). This case highlights the importance of preventing seafood-associated infections and the need to consider rare human pathogens in elderly or immunocompromised, marine-exposed populations, as well as persons who might consume at-risk food that might have been imported from outside the United States and persons who might have been infected outside the United States when traveling.

Nearly 400 sick from crypto in Sweden

Outbreak News Today reports that since the last report on the Cryptosporidium outbreak in Sweden about two weeks ago, health officials say the number of reported cases has decreased in recent weeks.

While cases are declining, the number of cases reported per week remains slightly higher compared to the same period in previous years. To date, some 400 Cryptosporidium cases have been recorded.

Most cases have been reported from Stockholm, Östergötland, Västra Götaland, Halland, Jönköping and Uppsala.

The Public Health Authority analyzes samples from the cases to determine what type of cryptosporidium they have become ill from. Of the 202 samples analyzed so far, 93 have been shown to belong to subtype (A) and 58 belong to subtype B of Cryptosporidium parvum. In addition to this subtype, a number of different subtypes have been detected.

The fact that different subtypes are seen indicates that there are different sources of infection for the cases reported during the fall. From the survey studies it was shown that cases with subtype A have drunk to a greater extent pre-purchased freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable drinks that are no longer on the market when the shelf life is short. The majority (almost 80%) of cases with subtype A were reported to have fallen ill.


 

Botulism Type E after consumption of salt-cured fish—New Jersey, 2018

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports on October 25, 2018, at 2:15 a.m., a woman aged 30 years and her mother, aged 55 years, both of Egyptian descent, arrived at an emergency department in New Jersey in hypotensive shock after 16 hours of abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. The daughter also reported blurry vision and double vision (diplopia), shortness of breath, chest pain, and difficulty speaking. She appeared lethargic and had ophthalmoplegia and bilateral ptosis. Both women were admitted to the hospital. The mother improved after fluid resuscitation, but the daughter required vasopressor support in the intensive care unit. Although the mother did not have evidence of cranial nerve involvement on admission, during the next 24 hours, she developed dysphagia and autonomic dysfunction with syncope and orthostasis and was transferred to the intensive care unit as her symptoms progressively worsened similar to those of her daughter.

Two days before admission, both women had eaten fesikh, a traditional Egyptian fish dish of uneviscerated gray mullet that is fermented and salt-cured. Fesikh has been linked to foodborne botulism, including a large type E outbreak in Egypt in 1993 (1). The Egyptian Ministry of Health has since issued public health warnings regarding fesikh before Sham el-Nessim, the Egyptian holiday commemorating the beginning of spring, during which fesikh is commonly prepared and eaten.* Foodborne botulism outbreaks associated with fesikh and similar uneviscerated salt-cured fish have also occurred in North America (2); two outbreaks occurred among persons of Egyptian descent in New Jersey in 1992 (3) and 2005 (4).

Botulism, a paralytic illness caused by botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), was suspected because of the reported exposure to fesikh along with symptoms of ophthalmoplegia, bilateral ptosis, dysarthria, and autonomic dysfunction. Per New Jersey Reporting Regulations (NJAC 8:57), these suspected illnesses were immediately reported to the New Jersey Department of Health. After consultation with CDC, heptavalent botulism antitoxin was released by CDC and administered to both patients within approximately 24 hours of arrival at the hospital. The daughter’s symptoms improved, and she was weaned off vasopressors. Both patients survived following intensive care for 2 days and total hospitalization of 7 days each.

CDC tested serum obtained before antitoxin administration. Serum from the daughter tested positive for BoNT type E by the BoNT Endopep-MS assay (5); the mother’s serum tested negative. A leftover sample of the consumed fesikh also tested positive for BoNT type E and Clostridium botulinum type E.

Interviews conducted by the Communicable Disease Service at the New Jersey Department of Health revealed that two fresh mullets purchased by the patients’ neighbor at a local Asian market were used to prepare the fesikh. The mother salt-cured and fermented the mullet, leaving the fish uneviscerated and wrapped in plastic in the kitchen for 20 days at ambient temperature. The mother confirmed that she previously used the same method of preparation in Egypt with no deviation in techniques or steps.

These cases illustrate the importance of early recognition and treatment of botulism. Botulism can be fatal, typically from respiratory failure, and treatment delays can result in increased mortality and worsened overall outcomes (6). These cases also highlight the role of uneviscerated, salt-cured fish dishes as potential vehicles for foodborne botulism. C. botulinum spores are ubiquitous in marine environments, and traditional methods of home preparation for these dishes might support conditions that are favorable for toxin production (i.e. anaerobic conditions) (2). Neither of these patients had previously heard of botulism. Risk communication via public awareness campaigns, as has been conducted by the Egyptian Ministry of Health to discourage fesikh consumption, might be indicated in the United States; engagement with Egyptian communities in the United States might provide insights into additional prevention strategies to decrease the risk for foodborne botulism from fesikh and other uneviscerated, salt-cured fish products.

Cyclospora infections linked to fresh basil from Mexico

I warn people about fresh basil, but they just call me crazy, although I’m the one with the PhD in food stuff.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported at the end of Sept there were 241 confirmed cases in 5 states and was linked to fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV of Morelos, Mexico.

This outbreak appears to be over.

Sorry it takes me longer to report these things, but I don’t get paid and my brain drifts.