San Antonio girl: Texas restaurant investigated after 60 sick

More than 60 people have reported symptoms of foodborne illness as of Wednesday after dining at Pasha Mediterranean Grill on Wurzbach Road, according to Metro Health. Read more here.

Nearly one dozen customers reached out to Pasha Mediterranean Grill in the 9300 block of Wurzbach Road and reported getting sick after dining at the restaurant, according to an inspection report from the San Antonio Metropolitan Health Department.

The restaurant’s managers also stated at least two employees had been sick with and reported symptoms of fever and diarrhea.

The manager told Metro Health that raw chicken and beef were discarded as a precaution after it was prepared by food handlers.

A heavenly match: Cilantro and cyclospora

According to Food Safety Magazine, since 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been trying a new approach to produce sampling to assess microbial contamination in food commodities. The approach involves collecting a statistically-valid number of samples of targeted foods over a 12-18 month period, then identifying common microbial factors among them.

For fiscal year 2018, FDA had already been sampling fresh herbs, specifically basil, parsley, and cilantro, along with processed avocado and guacamole–all from both domestic and imported sources. The fresh herbs were chosen for sampling because they are eaten without having gone through any type of kill step (ie. cooking) to reduce or eliminate pathogens. Also, these items are grown low to the ground, which makes them susceptible to contamination. Initially, the sampling was to measure the prevalence of Salmonella and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in these herbs.

Recently, FDA added a new test to this sampling group: Cyclospora cayetanensis. The agency has a new analytical testing method for this parasite.

And my kid is really into this song; also no explanation.

103 sickened at Egyptian wedding

Mariam Nabbout of Step Feed reports 103 wedding guests got food poisoning from meals they were served at a marriage ceremony. Before the arrests, the incident was reported to Al Zakazik Police Station, who then launched an investigation into the matter.

Samples of the meal were sent to a lab for testing 

Police have since obtained samples of the food served at the wedding from leftovers stored at the groom’s house. The rice and meat dish that was served to the guests will now be tested for suspected contamination.

News of the incident is all over Twitter.

Crypto makes you poop a lot and is not fun: Vaccine efforts advance

In May, just before one of the hottest summers on record, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about diseases lurking in recreational water facilities like swimming pools and water playgrounds. The culprit in nine out of ten cases in which an infectious cause was identified was the microscopic parasite Cryptosporidium.

Crypto, which commonly refers to both the parasite and the diarrheal disease that it causes, cryptosporidiosis, infects humans and animals. It is a serious problem in developing countries, where it is a leading cause of life-threatening diarrhea in children under two. Now cases reported in the U.S. are increasing.

Swallowing one mouthful of crypto-contaminated water can cause illness. While most people recover after a few weeks of significant gastrointestinal upset, young children, the elderly, and the immunosuppressed can face chronic infection, wasting, cognitive impairment, and even death.

No vaccine exists, and the sole FDA-approved drug for crypto is, paradoxically, ineffective in people with weakened immune systems.

A major roadblock to developing drugs is the fact that crypto oocysts—the infectious form of the parasite that thrives in the small intestine—are impossible to cultivate under laboratory conditions, explained Saul Tzipori, distinguished professor of microbiology and infectious diseases at Cummings School, who has made the study of crypto and other intestinal diseases his life’s work.

To produce oocysts for scientific investigation, crypto must therefore be grown in host animals. The process is expensive, time-consuming, and cumbersome.

“To evaluate and optimize prototype vaccines and test them in humans we need to use the same source, age, viability, quality, and quantity of oocysts. This is impossible with available methods, which necessarily involve variation,” said Tzipori, who is also the Agnes Varis Chair in Science and Society and chair of the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health.

Now Tzipori and his team, in collaboration with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, have developed a way to rapidly freeze crypto oocysts, preserve their infectiousness indefinitely, and thaw them as needed for study. The researchers recently published their discovery, which was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in Nature Communications.

For the past forty years, scientists have tried to keep crypto oocysts for later use by freezing them—a process called cryopreservation—using slow cooling, “but those methods didn’t yield infectious oocysts,” explained the paper’s co-first author, Justyna Jaskiewicz, a veterinarian who is pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences as a member of Tzipori’s lab. The group discovered that the oocysts’ impermeable walls kept out cryoprotective agents—chemicals that are typically used to prevent formation of harmful ice crystals by replacing intracellular water. As a result, sharp ice crystals formed, which punctured and damaged the oocysts’ infectious interior.

To help tackle this problem, Tzipori’s team tapped the expertise of Massachusetts General’s Center for Engineering in Medicine, whose co-founder, Mehmet Toner, is widely known for advances in low-temperature biology and tissue stabilization.

The solution turned out to be bleaching the oocysts to make their walls permeable before soaking them in protective chemical agents.

Oocysts in solution were then loaded into cylindrical glass microcapillaries about three inches long and 200 microns in diameter—the diameter of about four human hairs—and plunged into liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees Celsius (about -320 Fahrenheit). Almost immediately, the oocyst solution morphed into a glasslike solid free of ice crystals.

“Unlike standard cryopreservation, where cells are slowly cooled, our technique vitrified the oocysts almost instantaneously. Vitrification is an ice-free method that cools cells so rapidly that crystals don’t form,” said Rebecca Sandlin, an investigator at the Center for Engineering in Medicine and co-first author on the paper.

Oocysts thawed three months later were 50 to 80 percent viable and still infectious in mice. The researchers believe such cryopreservation will last indefinitely. They hope to increase the volume of oocysts frozen and test the methodology with other strains of the parasite.

The discovery is just the latest from Tzipori’s far-ranging research on a host of globally important infectious diseases, from E. coli to dengue fever.

Tzipori believes ultrafast cooling will benefit scientists worldwide in addition to advancing his own work on crypto drug discovery and vaccine development.

“For the first time, we can produce the crypto parasite—including unique or genetically modified strains—in large quantities, without need for constant passage through animals, uniformly cryopreserved, and ship it to other investigators in liquid nitrogen that can be stored indefinitely and used at any time,” he said. “This capability has existed for other pathogens, but never for crypto.”

This is the only REM song I ever liked.

BU researchers define possible molecular pathway for neurodegeneration in prion diseases

BU researchers define possible molecular pathway for neurodegeneration in prion diseases

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-09/buso-brd092118.php

I wonder about prion diseases because I watched my grandfather degenerate from Alzheimers, and carried my suicidal grandmother into the Barrie, Ontario (that’s in Canada) hospital when I was 20 (that’s her, right, when I was a kid)

It sucked, and has scared me for 35 years.

But after years of therapy, I may be learning to deal with it.

My first book in 1997 was called Mad Cows and Mothers Milk for a reason.

A very personal reason.

A new study has shed light on the mechanisms underlying the progression of prion diseases and identified a potential target for treatment.

Prion diseases are a group of fatal neurological disorders that includes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”). They are caused by the spread of “prions”, which are altered forms of normal cellular proteins. These abnormal molecules then interact with normal proteins to promote misfolding. While we understand that this process of converting normal to abnormal protein is what causes the symptoms of prion disease (including rapidly progressive dementia, seizures and personality changes), the exact mechanism of damage to the neuronal connections in the brain and spinal cord has been poorly understood.

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) used a method they previously described for culturing nerve cells from the hippocampal region of the brain, and then exposing them to prions, to illustrate the damage to nerve cell connections usually seen in these diseases. They then added a number of different chemical compounds with known inhibitory effects on cellular responses to stressful stimuli, with the objective of identifying which pathways may be involved.

They found that inhibition of p38 MAPKα (an enzyme that typically responds to stress, such as ultraviolet radiation and heat shock) prevented injury to nerve connections and promoted recovery from the initial damage. Hippocampal nerve cells that had a mutation preventing normal function of p38 MAPKα were also protected, seeming to confirm the role the enzyme plays in this disease process.

David. A. Harris, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine and corresponding author of the study, sees these findings as a major breakthrough in trying to understand and treat these diseases. “Our results provide new insights into the pathogenesis of prion diseases, they uncover new drug targets for treating these diseases, and they allow us to compare prion diseases to other, more common neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.”

These findings appear online in PLOS Pathogens.

 

Factory girl: 10 sick in multistate Psittacosis outbreak among poultry plant workers, 2018

The Virginia and Georgia departments of health are investigating a multistate outbreak of psittacosis occurring at two poultry slaughter plants owned by a single corporation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are assisting with the investigation.

Contact a healthcare professional if you have fever, cough, headache, or muscle aches after working at a poultry slaughter plant involved in the outbreak. Tell your healthcare professional that you may have been exposed to psittacosis. Healthcare professionals can treat psittacosis with antibiotics.

Plant management should implement steps to minimize exposures to bird droppings and respiratory secretions to protect their workers.

During August–September 2018, psittacosis cases were reported among workers at two poultry slaughter plants in Virginia and Georgia. A single corporation owns both plants.

Chlamydia psittaci, the type of bacteria that causes psittacosis, was detected by a laboratory test in 10 people. Additional illnesses in workers at the two plants have been identified, although have not been confirmed by the laboratory.

No deaths have been reported.

Virginia and Georgia departments of health are conducting an investigation, and the number of cases is likely to change.

Current evidence indicates that all of the people who have psittacosis work at poultry slaughter plants in two states: Virginia and Georgia. Investigators are still working to understand why the outbreak occurred.

The affected plants in Virginia and Georgia voluntarily suspended operations for cleaning.

On September 8, 2018, the affected plant in Virginia suspended operations. The plant reopened on September 18, 2018.

On September 15, 2018, the affected plant in Georgia suspended operations. The plant reopened on September 19, 2018.

Plant management held town hall meetings in both plants to inform their workers about the outbreak.

CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

The most common way someone gets infected with the bacteria that cause psittacosis (Chlamydia psittaci) is by breathing in dust containing dried secretions (e.g., droppings, respiratory) from infected birds. There is no evidence that these bacteria can spread by preparing or eating chicken meat.

It is rare for psittacosis to spread from person to person. In this outbreak, infection among family members who are not workers at the affected plants has not been reported.

barfblog and a song; 118 sick from campy in puppies

We have escaped to Coff’s Harbour, about five hours south of Brisbane, for our annual hockey tournament at the Big Banana, which has a small ice rink so we play 3-on-3, and where Russell Crowe apparently learned to skate for his role in the 1999 movie, Mystery, Alaska (a great hockey movie).

Amy is involved in all kinds of things, I coached for a few years and am now a happy spectator.

JFK of NSA Hockey, who played junior in Michigan, runs a day-long hockey camp for kids who are interested, so it’s a couple of days of writing and chilling for me and the Hubbell.

I’m going to catch up on some blog posts, fit each with one of my favorite songs, and then get on with that book.

I laid in bed and figured out the first half the other night.

We have Ted, the Wonder Dog, with us (he’s a wonder because how can such a little thing shit so much).

According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control, dogs, especially puppies, are a known source of sporadic Campylobacter infections in humans, but are uncommonly reported to cause outbreaks.

Investigation of a multistate, multidrug-resistant outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni infections implicated puppies from breeders and distributors sold through pet stores as the outbreak source. Outbreak strains were resistant to all antibiotics commonly used to treat Campylobacter infections.

Campylobacter causes an estimated 1.3 million diarrheal illnesses in the United States annually (1). In August 2017, the Florida Department of Health notified CDC of six Campylobacter jejuni infections linked to company A, a national pet store chain based in Ohio. CDC examined whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data and identified six isolates from company A puppies in Florida that were highly related to an isolate from a company A customer in Ohio. This information prompted a multistate investigation by local and state health and agriculture departments and CDC to identify the outbreak source and prevent additional illness. Health officials from six states visited pet stores to collect puppy fecal samples, antibiotic records, and traceback information.

Nationally, 118 persons, including 29 pet store employees, in 18 states were identified with illness onset during January 5, 2016–February 4, 2018. In total, six pet store companies were linked to the outbreak. Outbreak isolates were resistant by antibiotic susceptibility testing to all antibiotics commonly used to treat Campylobacter infections, including macrolides and quinolones. Store record reviews revealed that among 149 investigated puppies, 142 (95%) received one or more courses of antibiotics, raising concern that antibiotic use might have led to development of resistance. Public health authorities issued infection prevention recommendations to affected pet stores and recommendations for testing puppies to veterinarians. This outbreak demonstrates that puppies can be a source of multidrug-resistant Campylobacter infections in humans, warranting a closer look at antimicrobial use in the commercial dog industry.

If you’re a stray cat, Ted the Wonder Dog will make friends.

Multidrug-resistant campylobacter jejuni outbreak linked to puppy exposure- United States, 2016-2018

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6737a3.htm?s_cid=mm6737a3_e

39 sick from Vibrio in sushi in Japan

They have a video, but this one is better.

The Japan News reports that Totoyamichi, a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant operator affiliated with Japan’s Skylark Holdings Co., — which sounds creepy enough on its own — has been shutting all 24 outlets since Monday after food poisoning occurred at some of them.

At least 39 customers have complained of food poisoning symptoms after eating at Totoyamichi restaurants.

Skylark reported the case only on its website while stopping short of holding a press conference. The restaurant group may thus come under fire for failing to fully explain the incident, analysts said.

According to Skylark, food poisoning symptoms, such as diarrhea and stomachache, were reported from customers who used eight Totoyamichi outlets in Tokyo and neighboring Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures between Aug. 31 and Sept. 3. The affected customers are recovering from their illness.

In a survey by Skylark, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a type of bacteria that causes stomachache and other symptoms, was detected from raw sea urchin at some outlets.
 

 

Everyone has a camera, Crazy Rich Asians edition, roaches in popcorn

Darren Cartwright of The Courier Mail writes in the local paper (local being Brisbane) that the hit comedy Crazy Rich Asians turned out to be a real-life horror film for a young couple who allegedly discovered the movement in their popcorn was a “dirty, great big” cockroach.

Shaun Walsh and his partner Caitlin Rose were in the middle of enjoying the runaway success comedy at Birch Carroll and Coyle’s cinema complex at Morayfield on Saturday night when things went awry.

Mr Walsh said Ms Rose was eating the treat when the movie started and about half an hour later placed the container on the seat next to her.

When she went to retrieve more popcorn, some 20 minutes later, she heard “movement” in the popcorn.

“She jumped up and screamed a little bit and then jumped across me,” Mr Walsh told The Courier-Mail.

“I didn’t believe her at the start, so I turned my light on and here’s this dirty great big cockroach.

10 dead, 1200 sick: Praise the lord and pass the guacamole: Holy water blamed for Ethiopia cholera outbreak

Faith-based food safety just doesn’t cut it.

According to Ooska News, a cholera outbreak in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region has reportedly been blamed on holy water, after at least 10 people died over the past two weeks, while more than 1 200 people have contracted the disease. The authorities have also identified contaminated holy water in some of the region’s monasteries as being behind the outbreak. It was believed that the water is being taken from rivers that carry the disease.

Interfering in religious affairs is a very sensitive matter in the region, but the local government is working with religious leaders to temporarily stop the use of holy water.