Killer smile: Link between mouth microbes and systemic disease

I will, from now on,  blame my early on-set dementia not on booze, or pucks to the head, many, many concussions. or gaslighting, but on the bacteria in my mouth.

Technology Networks reports the healthy human oral microbiome consists of not just clean teeth and firm gums, but also energy-efficient bacteria living in an environment rich in blood vessels that enables the organisms’ constant communication with immune-system cells and proteins.

A growing body of evidence has shown that this system that seems so separate from the rest of our bodies is actually highly influential on, and influenced by, our overall health, said Purnima Kumar, professor of periodontology at The Ohio State University, speaking at a science conference earlier in Feb.

For example, type 2 diabetes has long been known to increase the risk for gum disease. Recent studies showing how diabetes affects the bacteria in the mouth help explain how periodontitis treatment that changes oral bacteria also reduces the severity of the diabetes itself.

Connections have also been found between oral microbes and rheumatoid arthritis, cognitive abilities, pregnancy outcomes and heart disease, supporting the notion that an unhealthy mouth can go hand-in-hand with an unhealthy body.

“What happens in your body impacts your mouth, and that in turn impacts your body. It’s truly a cycle of life,” Kumar said.

When the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) themed this year’s annual meeting around dynamic ecosystems, Kumar saw an opportunity to put the mouth on the map, so to speak, as a vibrant microbial community that can tell us a lot about ourselves.

“What is more dynamic than the gateway to your body – the mouth? It’s so ignored when you think about it, and it’s the most forward-facing part of your body that interfaces with the environment, and it’s connected to this entire tubing system,” she said. “And yet we study everything but the mouth.”

Kumar organized a session at the AAAS meeting today (Feb. 8, 2021) that she titled “Killer Smile: The Link Between the Oral Microbiome and Systemic Diseases.”

The oral microbiome refers to the collection of bacteria – some helpful to humans and some not – that live inside our mouths.

Though there remains a lot to learn, the basics of these relationship between the oral microbiome and systemic disease have become clear.

Oral bacteria use oxygen to breathe and break down simple molecules of carbohydrates and proteins to stay alive. Something as simple as not brushing your teeth for a few days can set off a cascade of changes, choking off the oxygen supply and causing microbes to shift to a fermentative state.

“That creates a septic tank, which produces byproducts and toxins that stimulate the immune system,” Kumar said. An acute inflammatory response follows, producing signaling proteins that bacteria see as food.

“Then this community – it’s an ecosystem – shifts. Organisms that can break down protein start growing more, and organisms that can breathe in an oxygen-starved environment grow. The bacterial profile and, more importantly, the function of the immune system changes,” she said.

The inflammation opens pores between cells that line the mouth and blood vessels get leaky, allowing what have become unhealthy bacteria to enter circulation throughout the body.

Raw is risky: Contaminated seafood

It’s been a rough few months of outbreaks related to seafood, especially the raw stuff.

More than 500 kilograms of raw oysters from Vietnam were recently seized by Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the products were found to be contaminated with dangerous foodborne viruses,

The FDA said it had seized a shipment of 270 kg of raw oysters contaminated with hepatitis A.

Two other shipments of raw oysters totaling 255 kg, meanwhile, were found to be tainted by norovirus, the agency said, adding that all the products had been confiscated and destroyed.

By Nov. 2020, Florida state health officials reported 33 cases of Vibrio vulnificus in 20 counties, including six deaths had been reported

In Dec. 2020, it was reported that sushi bars at two Harris Teeter stores in Concord, North Carolina, sickened 159 people.

Health officials said that many of the sick people developed symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, muscle aches, and abdominal cramps, but they did not confirm the type of infection.

Last Sept., New Brunswick health officials (that’s a province in Canada) uncovered at least nine cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria found in shellfish that causes gastrointestinal illness in humans.

Speakin’ out: barfblog.com no longer on Facebook or Twitter

At least until we figure something out. Our blogging software no longer supports automatic links to these social media, and I’ve been blogging a lot.

Readers who were relying on these social media are best advised to visit barfblog.com and on the right side of the home page, choose the frequency you would like to receive barfblog updates.

The art of persuasion hasn’t changed in 2,000 years and applies to coronavirus

Carmine Galloof wrote in the Harvard Business Review last year that ideas are the currency of the twenty-first century. The ability to persuade, to change hearts and minds, is perhaps the single greatest skill that will give you a competitive edge in the knowledge economy — an age where ideas matter more than ever.

More than 2,000 years ago Aristotle outlined a formula on how to master the art of persuasion in his work Rhetoric. A summary of Galloof’s article appears below.

1) Ethos or “Character”

Aristotle believed that if a speaker’s actions didn’t back their words, they would lose credibility, and ultimately, weaken their argument.

2) Logos or “Reason”

Once ethos is established, it’s time to make a logical appeal to reason. Use data, evidence, and facts to form a rational argument.

3) Pathos or “Emotion”

According to Aristotle, persuasion cannot occur in the absence of emotion. People are moved to action by how a speaker makes them feel. Aristotle believed the best way to transfer emotion from one person to another is through the rhetorical device of storytelling. More than 2,000 years later, neuroscientists have found  his thesis accurate. Studies have found that narratives trigger a rush of neurochemicals in the brain, notably oxytocin, the “moral molecule” that connects people on a deeper, emotional level.

4) Metaphor

Aristotle believed that metaphor gives language its verbal beauty. “To be a master of metaphor is the greatest thing by far,” he wrote. When you use a metaphor or analogy to compare a new idea to something that is familiar to your audience, it clarifies your idea by turning the abstract into something concrete.

Those who master the metaphor have the ability to turn words into images that help others gain a clearer understanding of  their ideas — but more importantly, remember and share them. It is a powerful tool to have.

5) Brevity

Here again, Aristotle was ahead of his time. “Aristotle had discovered that there are fairly universal limits to the amount of information which any human can absorb and retain,” writes Kings College professor Edith Hall in Aristotle’s Way. “When it comes to persuasion, less is always more.”

Brevity is a crucial element in making a persuasive speech. An argument, Aristotle said, should be expressed “as compactly and in as few words as possible.” He also observed that the opening of a person’s speech is the most important since “attention slackens everywhere else rather than at the beginning.” The lesson here is: start with your strongest point.

Sorta like journalism.

TikTok user goes viral with story about pinworms in her butt

I have always checked my kids for pinworms – when they were asleep, usually – if they complained about an itchy butt.

Jackie Salo of the New York Post reported a few months ago that a woman’s horrifying tale about discovering “squiggly white” worms in her anus has gone viral on TikTok.

Mercedes Edwards recounted in graphic detail how she came down with a pinworm infection as a child in a video, which has racked up more than 1.7 million views on the platform.

“If you don’t know what that is, it’s these little white worms and they live in your butthole. They come out at night to lay eggs around your anus.”

She said that she knew something was wrong when her anus became “so itchy.”

“So I got a little mirror because I wanted to look to see like what was going on down there, you know?” she told viewers while snacking on edamame (hopefully not edamame from Tesoros Trading Co. in Las Vegas and sold at some Trader Joe’s which was recently recalled for a potential Listeria risk) https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/tesoros-trading-company-recalls-product-because-possible-health-risk

“And I saw all these squiggly white things moving on and I freaked the f–k out.”

She said her mom got a piece of tape to stick on her anus to get a sample for the doctor, who confirmed that she had a pinworm infection.

“I had to take this medication that made all the pinworms like die and I remember sitting on the toilet crying — so scared to s–t because when I did s–t all the dead worms were like in my poop,” she said.

Pinworm infections are typically found in school-age children and can be caused by accidentally swallowing or breathing in the eggs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

This can happen when food, drinks or someone’s fingers are contaminated with the parasite.

Edwards encouraged viewers to practice good hygiene — warning them they don’t want to have the same fate as her.

“It was traumatizing, do not recommend getting pinworms. Wash your hands people,” Edwards said.

Petting zoos in Switzerland as public health problem

Animal petting zoos and farm fairs provide the opportunity for children and adults to interact with animals, but contact with animals carries a risk of exposure to zoonotic pathogens and antimicrobial‐resistant bacteria.

The aim of this study was to assess the occurrence of Shiga toxin‐producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Salmonella, extended‐spectrum β‐lactamase (ESBL)‐producing Enterobacteriaceae and methicillin‐resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in animal faeces from six animal petting zoos and one farm fair in Switzerland. Furthermore, hygiene facilities on the venues were evaluated.

Of 163 faecal samples, 75 contained stx1, stx2 or stx1/stx2 genes, indicating the presence of STEC. Samples included faeces from sika deer (100%), sheep (92%), goats (88%), mouflons (80%), camels (62%), llamas (50%), yaks (50%), pigs (29%) and donkeys (6%), whereas no stx genes were isolated from faeces of calves, guinea pigs, hens, ostriches, ponies, zebras or zebus. Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Stourbridge (S. Stourbridge) was detected in faecal samples from camels. A total of four ESBL‐producing E. coli strains were isolated from faeces of goats, camels and pigs. PCR and sequencing identified the presence of blaCTXM15 in three and blaCTXM65 in one E. coli. Antimicrobial resistance profiling using the disk diffusion method revealed two multidrug‐resistant (MDR) E. coli with resistance to ciprofloxacin, gentamicin and azithromycin, all of which are critically important drugs for human medicine. Multilocus sequence typing identified E. coli ST162, E. coli ST2179, extraintestinal high‐risk E. coli ST410 and E. coli ST4553, which belongs to the emerging extraintestinal clonal complex (CC) 648. No MRSA was detected.

On all animal petting venues, there were inadequacies with regard to access to hygiene information and handwashing hygiene facilities. This study provides data that underscore the importance of hygiene measures to minimize the risk of transmission of zoonotic pathogens and MDR, ESBL‐producing E. coli to visitors of animal petting venues.

Animal petting zoos as sources of shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, salmonella and extended-spectrum Beta-lactamase (EXBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae

Zoonosis and Public Health

Meret Isler, Ramona Wissmann, Marina Morach, Katrin Zurfluh, Roger Stephan, Magdalena Nüesch‐Inderbinen

https://doi.org/10.1111/zph.12798

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/zph.12798

FoodNet Canada, 2019

The Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) FoodNet Canada surveillance system (no, not that one, right, that’s the Canadian television network that wanted to sue me over video associated with 2004’s cooking show paper) is pleased to present this tables and figures report which provides the annual results of our surveillance activities conducted in 2019. The report is based on findings from its sentinel sites in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. It also provides preliminary findings from Quebec, representing a partial year due to their implementation part way through the year in July 2019. The report focuses on trends in enteric pathogen disease rates, as well as trends in the prevalence of these pathogens found on potential disease sources: retail meats, manure from food producing animals and water. It is our hope that this report will be used to inform and shape discussions on food safety issues regarding enteric diseases and their sources.

Key findings:

  • In 2019, Campylobacter and Salmonella remained the most common causes of human enteric illness in the FoodNet Canada sentinel sites.
  • Travel continues to be an important factor in the burden of enteric disease. In 2019, approximately 30% of all cases of enteric disease were associated with travel outside of Canada.
  • Exposure to retail meat products remains a potential source of infection for human enteric illness. However, decreases in the prevalence of certain pathogen-food combinations were observed in 2019. For example, Salmonella on frozen breaded chicken products significantly decreased in 2019 compared to 2018 and is likely associated with interventions implemented at the industry level in 2019.
  • Other exposures, such as the farm environment and water, are also possible sources of infection for human enteric illness, with differences noted between the sites. For example, Salmonella is commonly found in broiler chicken manure, however, the prevalence significantly increased in BC whereas it significantly decreased in the AB site in 2019, resulting in an overall significant decrease in the combined sites.
  • The majority of clinical cases of shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) were domestically acquired in 2019, with a significant increase in both travel and endemic incidence rates, which is primarily driven by the AB sentinel site who test all STEC-confirmed stool samples for non-O157 serogroups.
  • In 2019, surface water sampling was initiated for the first time in the ON site for STEC testing. The prevalence of STEC in the ON site (27%) was similar to the combined BC and AB irrigation water prevalence in 2019 (28%). · Continued monitoring of human illness and the potential exposures is important to ensure the continued health and safety of Canadians. The collection and integration of information across all of FoodNet Canada surveillance components (human, retail, on-farm, and water) in an enhanced and standardized way allows for the analysis of subtype distributions among human cases and potential exposure sources over time. This report will be followed by a comprehensive annual report, which will include more extensive analyses of temporal trends and subtyping information for an integrated perspective on enteric disease from exposure to illness.

Models for efficacy of restaurant inspections

Restaurant health inspections aim at identifying health violations and shall reduce the risk that restaurant visitors suffer from foodborne illness. Nevertheless, regulatory authorities’ resources are limited, so an efficient mechanism that supports scheduling of health inspections is necessary.

We build upon information efficiency theory and investigate whether information extracted from online review platforms is useful to predict restaurant health violations. Furthermore, we examine how the expectation disconfirmation bias impacts classification performance. Analyzing a large sample of health inspections, corresponding online reviews and restaurant visitor data, we propose and evaluate different predictive models.

We find that classifiers specifically taking into account information from online review platforms outperform different baseline approaches. We thus show that online reviews encompass private information indicating strong information efficiency. Furthermore, we observe that the expectation disconfirmation bias has an influence on classification performance in case of restaurants with a low star rating and with a poor inspection history. An ensemble classifier can help to mitigate this influence. Thus, online review platforms contain relevant information to predict future health violations. Our results are highly relevant for regulatory authorities, restaurant visitors and restaurant owners.

Leveraging online review platforms to support public policy; Predicting restaurant health violations based on online reviews

Decision Support Systems

Michael Siering

ttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.dss.2020.113474

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167923620302293

The Romans provided safe drinking water

Provision of safe drinking water in the United States is a great public health achievement. However, new waterborne disease challenges have emerged (e.g., aging infrastructure, chlorine-tolerant and biofilm-related pathogens, increased recreational water use).

Comprehensive estimates of the health burden for all water exposure routes (ingestion, contact, inhalation) and sources (drinking, recreational, environmental) are needed. We estimated total illnesses, emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, deaths, and direct healthcare costs for 17 waterborne infectious diseases. About 7.15 million waterborne illnesses occur annually (95% credible interval [CrI] 3.88 million–12.0 million), results in 601,000 ED visits (95% CrI 364,000–866,000), 118,000 hospitalizations (95% CrI 86,800–150,000), and 6,630 deaths (95% CrI 4,520–8,870) and incurring US $3.33 billion (95% CrI 1.37 billion–8.77 billion) in direct healthcare costs.

Otitis externa and norovirus infection were the most common illnesses. Most hospitalizations and deaths were caused by biofilm-associated pathogens (nontuberculous mycobacteria, Pseudomonas, Legionella), costing US $2.39 billion annually.

Estimate of burden ad direct healthcare cost of infectious waterborne disease in the United States

Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 2 no. 1

Sarah A. Collier , Li Deng, Elizabeth A. Adam, Katharine M. Benedict, Elizabeth M. Beshearse, Anna J. Blackstock, Beau B. Bruce, Gordana Derado, Chris Edens, Kathleen E. Fullerton, Julia W. Gargano, Aimee L. Geissler, Aron J. Hall, Arie H. Havelaar, Vincent R. Hill, Robert M. Hoekstra, Sujan C. Reddy, Elaine Scallan, Erin K. Stokes, Jonathan S. Yoder, and Michael J. Beach

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/27/1/19-0676_article?ACSTrackingID=DM44883&ACSTrackingLabel=Copy%20of%20Waterborne%20Disease%20Burden%20Paper&deliveryName=DM44883

How cooking shows influence viewers’ hygiene practices

ozforex

Speaking of cooking shows, researchers from Germany have concluded poor hygiene when handling food is a major cause of foodborne illness.

To investigate whether hygiene practices visible in television cooking shows influence viewers’ kitchen hygiene, a study on the adoption of demonstrated hygiene behavior was conducted under controlled, experimental conditions. In a study ostensibly on cooking by following recipes participants (n = 65) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, in which they watched a cooking video that differed only with regard to the hygiene behavior of the chef. In condition 1, the chef engaged in poor hygiene practices while preparing the dish, in condition 2 the chef’s hygiene behavior was exemplary and in condition 3, the chef’s hygiene behavior was not visible (control condition).

After watching the video, participants were instructed to cook the recipe individually in the fully equipped laboratory kitchen. (Figure, above: Illustration of how three video versions with different hygiene levels were realized, using seasoning as an example. (Panel a) Correct hygiene video: Seasoning with spoon. (Panel b) Poor hygiene video: Seasoning with fingers (after touching raw chicken). (Panel c) Control video: Close‐up of food being sprinkled with seasoning.) Cooking sessions were videotaped and experimenters blind to condition coded hygiene lapses committed by participants. The level of kitchen hygiene displayed in the cooking video significantly affected hygiene practices of participants cooking the recipe. Participants who had watched the cooking video with correct hygiene practices committed significantly fewer hygiene lapses than those who had watched the video with poor hygiene practices. From a risk communication perspective, TV cooking shows are well placed to convey knowledge of essential hygiene practices during food preparation to a broad audience. To facilitate behavioral change toward safer food‐handling practices among viewers, visibly performing correct hygiene practices in cooking shows is a promising strategy.

Kitchen hygiene in the spotlight: How cooking shows influence viewers’ hygiene practices

Risk Analysis

Severine Koch, Mark Lohmann, Jasmin Geppert, Rainer Stamminger, Astrid Epp, Gaby‐Fleur Böl

https://doi.org/10.1111/risa.13584

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/risa.13584

Research for one of our most popular paers was initiated almost 20 years ago. The abstract is below:

Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely.

During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria established by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom.

Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations.

While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.