My cousin of Barrie’s Asparagus is in the midst of the annual crop in southern Ontario, and I know they have good food safety because my students have checked them out in years past and, I’m his cousin.
Unfortunately not all growers are as diligent and any commodity can get branded as shit.
Specifically, Shigella shit.
Findings presented at the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, or EIS, conference last month found that contaminated asparagus was the likely source of an outbreak of shigellosis at a wedding party in Oregon that sickened 112 people.
The outbreak was caused by Shigella flexneri type 3a, which accounts for less than 3% of S.flexneri isolates in the United States, researchers said.
“This was one of the largest foodborne outbreaks of shigellosis in U.S. history,” Steven I. Rekant, DVM, MPH, an EIS officer with the Oregon Public Health Authority, said in a presentation. “It was the second largest ever attributed to Shigella flexneri and that type of Shigella flexneri, type 3a, is uncommon in Oregon.”
According to Rekant and colleagues, the Oregon Health Authority received reports of gastroenteritis among attendees at a wedding in August 2018 and identified S. flexneri type 3a in stool samples.
A total of 263 people attended the wedding, and 75% responded to the survey. The patients were aged 2 to 93 years, and 55% were female.
“Simply put, this was big outbreak — 112 cases were reported, with an overall attack rate of 55.7%,” Rekant said.
Of 95 patients with onset information, 97% reported illness 12 to 72 hours following the wedding. Additionally, 57 patients presented to a health care facility and 10 were hospitalized, including a 92-year-old woman. No deaths or additional cases were reported.
The investigators found that only asparagus consumption was associated with illness.
They pointed to poor hygiene on the part of the food-handler as the “likely cause of contamination.”
Rekant SI, et al. Shigellosis at a Wedding — Oregon, 2018. Presented at: Epidemic Intelligence Service conference; April 29-May 2, 2019; Atlanta.