A time to live, a time to die

My eldest, 1-of-4 Canadian daughters (she’s 32 and has a 5-year-old son) was honest with me and said I shouldn’t travel to Ontario, even if there’s people I want to see (yes that’s her in this 1988 pic I took for my science column; I even remember developing film in the darkroom, and had sex there too along with the electron microcopy room.)

I have brain problems and cannot travel by myself.

My wife, who has power of attorney over my finances and death, says I can’t travel alone.

Yeah, looks like I’m fading fast

My best friend from high school has pancreatic cancer, so our friends are waging who will go first.

My brain hurts because I fall a lot, and Amy is going to break up with me.

But my life has been full of wonder, and I will keep being curious and keep writing.

It’s the best medicine.

Vaccines work: Hepatitis A outbreak in Sweden: Fresh dates from Iran are the suspected source

Outbreak News Today reports the Sweden Public Health Authority, or Folkhälsomyndigheten are reporting an outbreak of hepatitis A where the suspected source of infection is fresh dates from Iran.

Of the nine cases reported since late February, eight of the cases are confirmed and have the same type of hepatitis A virus (genotype IIIA) and one case is suspected.

The cases are between the ages of 28 and 73, five are men and four are women. The cases are from seven different counties (Örebro, Stockholm, Uppsala, Skåne, Södermanland, Kalmar and Halland). The latest case fell on April 16. Common to the cases is that they regularly eat fresh dates.

In the eight confirmed cases, four different strains with genotype IIIA have been detected. Two of these are similar to the tribes that caused an outbreak in Denmark in 2018 linked to dates from Iran. In that outbreak, several variants of genotype IIIA strains could be detected in the cases. One of these outbreak strains could also be detected in dates.

Health officials continue the investigation to identify the source of the outbreak.

Barry and restaurant inspection grades in LA

I am barfblog, barfblog is me.

I don’t think the other site will go anywhere.

So you get this mess, and can always opt out.

Chapman and I have been talking about creativity lately, and how to get better at it.

It may not be apparent, but for 20 years now, we always try to get better.

He quoted me Neil Young this morning, who said in 1974, “’Heart of Gold’ put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride, but I saw more interesting people there.”

I said the the same thing to Bill Leiss when he wanted to rehash a book: been there, done that, you’re boring.

Well done Ben.

Discovering, by Robert Scott Root-Bernstein, a prof type at the University of Michigan, was one of the most influential books I read. So much so that I had him come to the University of Waterloo when I hosted the annual meeting of the Canadian Science writer types in 1992.

Whether I’ve done journalism or science (and I still get cited every day, sorta proud of that, even with my diminished mind), or just writing to keep the cobwebs out of my brain, it’s all about asking questions that others haven’t, and then telling a good story.

Barry is probably the best new show on TV (after John Oliver).

Who knew Bill Hadler had it in him?

An Oklahoma dude who wowed audiences with his Stefon character on Saturday Night Live, who knew he could come up with Barry, a deep, disturbing and funny role that he writes, stars in and directs (committees are overrated).

But what this food safety nerd got in episode 4 of the second season was not the tension between the actors, but the A restaurant inspection grade in Los Angeles.

I love public disclosure.

Raw is risky: Mongolia: Careful with that marmot, Eugene

Ryan Miller of USA Today reports a Mongolian couple died from the bubonic plague after eating raw marmot meat, sparking a quarantine that trapped tourists for days, officials said Monday.

According to AFP, the couple died May 1 in a remote area of the country’s Bayan-Ölgii province, which borders China and Russia.

A six-day quarantine of 118 people who had come in contact with the couple, including locals and a number of foreign tourists, had been lifted as of Tuesday, Ariuntuya Ochirpurev, a World Health Organization official, told the BBC.

Ochirpurev told BBC that the couple ate the rodent’s raw meat and kidney, which is believed to be good for health in the area.

“After the quarantine (was announced) not many people, even locals, were in the streets for fear of catching the disease,” Sebastian Pique, an American Peace Corps volunteer in the area, told AFP.

Bubonic plague can be transmitted via infected fleas and animals, like prairie dogs, squirrels, rats and rabbits, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

CDC doesn’t say this song is boring and self-indulgent, but I always liked the title.

China teacher arrested for ‘poisoning’ 23 kindergarten students

The first words I wrote for barfblog.com in 2005 as me and Chapman went on a road trip to escape my ex-girlfriend stalker were something about my mother trying to kill me through foodborne illness.

She didn’t like that, and I knew my kindergarten teacher mom had nothing but best intents, but with food safety, who knows.

I’d like to make clear that my mother never intentionally poisoned any of her students.

But, a kindergarten teacher in China did, sending 23 pupils to hospital in early April after a teacher allegedly poisoned their morning porridge.

The incident in Jiaozuo came just before a new regulation took effect Monday, requiring school officials from kindergartens to secondary schools in China to dine with their students to prevent food safety scandals.

The pupils began vomiting and fainting after breakfast, the Beijing News said, citing unnamed city officials.

One parent told the newspaper that he rushed to the hospital after receiving a call from the school to find doctors had already pumped his child’s stomach to prevent high levels of toxicity in his blood.

One child remains in hospital with “severe” symptoms, and seven others have been held for observation, Xinhua reported.

The reports did not specify the ages of those affected, but typically, kindergarten students in China are aged three to six.

A preliminary investigation has revealed that sodium nitrite, which is used for curing meats but can be toxic when ingested in high amounts, caused the poisoning, Xinhua said.

 

Food Safety Talk 181: Hot Pants!

In this super long episode (sort of a double album) Ben and Don talk about their recent travels, PowerPoint as a performance and river cruising. The conversation takes a food safety turn into raw milk goat cheese, bull pizzles and veggie washes. They talk through some listener questions on surviving in the wild, foods they eat (and avoid) and pet food bowls. The show ends with some quick hits on phone cleaning, deli slicer-linked illnesses and geographical differences in pathogen exposure (and how the demise of the Aztec population is like Ontario beef farming).They answer the age-old question of what to do when there’s no paper towels in the restroom. They don’t talk about how the Toronto Maple Leafs are out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Food Safety Talk 181:Hot Pants! is available on iTunes and here.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

What to be of barfblog? Salmonella outbreak linked to Caito foods fresh-cut melons

When Chapman and I started barfblog.com on an airplane flight in 2005 (name credit goes to former student Christian), we thought it would last a couple of years.

It was supposed to be a mix of the personal, the pop, and evidence-based research.

I’ve quit many times, because, that’s what I do, but with my brain going, writing is about the only thing to keep me sane.

A month ago I said I’m out.

I say the same thing to Amy every few months.

I’m an idiot.

Amy told me to start a separate blog, dougsdeadflowers.com, and write whatever I want, but barfblog.com has become part of me for the past almost 20 years.

And then yesterday I saw a get-well message from a Canadian public health inspector who said, “you are our hero.”

Sure, I’m that vain.

I’m confused, and my brain ain’t working, so in the name of transparency, I throw it to my readers who have been there for 26 years:

  • should I stop writing
  • should I focus my available energy on a book
  • should I have a separate blog for personal stuff (which means barfblog.com would die, because Chapman is not a writer)
  • should I mix personal stuff in with the food safety stuff, or is that too narcissistic?

My inclination is to follow my Welsh roots and not go gentle into that good night, but that is hard on those I love.

And this is why Australian retailers should stop selling half-cut cantaloupe-rockmelons and others.

As soon as melons are cut, bacteria go to town.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners, is investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Carrau illnesses linked to pre-cut melon products. These products contain cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon, or may be mixes of some or all of these melons and other pre-cut fruit.

Caito Foods, LLC, of Indianapolis, Ind., has recalled products containing pre-cut melons because they are potentially contaminated with Salmonella. Additionally, Caito Foods, LLC has temporarily suspended producing and distributing these products.

FDA worked with CDC and state partners to trace the distribution of pre-cut melon mixes from individual case patients back to Caito Foods, LLC. FDA is also continuing its traceback investigation to identify the specific source of these melons. Salmonella Carrau is a rare type of Salmonella but has been historically seen in imported melons. Reports from Caito Foods LLC indicate that imported melons were used in the suspect pre-cut melon mixes. FDA’s traceback investigation is examining shipping records to try to determine a country and if possible, a farm of origin for the melons.

FDA and Indiana authorities are currently inspecting and investigating, to include collecting samples for laboratory analysis, at the Caito Foods LLC processing facility where these melons were cut and packed.

Caito Foods, LLC was linked to a similar outbreak in 2018 involving Salmonella Adelaide in pre-cut melon products.