5 kids sick with same E. coli O157:H7; raw milk recalled in California

Raw milk products produced by Organic Pastures of Fresno County are the subject of a statewide recall and quarantine order announced by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Whiteford.

Under the recall, all Organic Pastures raw dairy products with the exception of cheese aged a minimum of 60 days are to be pulled immediately from retail shelves and consumers are strongly urged to dispose of any products remaining in their refrigerators. Until further notice, Organic Pastures may not produce raw milk products for the retail market. The order also affects Organic Pastures raw butter, raw cream, raw colostrum, and a raw product labeled “Qephor.”

The quarantine order came following a notification from the California Department of Public Health of a cluster of five children who were infected, from August through October, with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7. These children are residents of Contra Costa, Kings, Sacramento, and San Diego counties. Interviews with the families indicate that the only common reported food exposure is unpasteurized (raw) milk from Organic Pastures dairy. Three of the five children were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that may lead to kidney failure.

Surveys indicate that only about three percent of the public report drinking raw milk in any given week so finding 100% of these children drank raw milk and the absence of other common foods or animal exposures indicates the Organic Pastures raw milk is the likely source of their infection.

While laboratory samples of Organic Pastures raw milk have not detected E. coli 0157:H7 contamination, epidemiologic data collected by the California Department of Public Health link the illnesses with Organic Pastures raw milk.

9 children sick; E. coli outbreak contained at Nova Scotia daycare

CBC News reports Crystal Daycare in Dartmouth, N.S., believes it has stopped an outbreak of E. coli, but doesn’t bother to report what kind of E. coli sickened seven children and two of their siblings since the middle of August.

Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, the medical health officer for the capital region, said there hasn’t been a new case since last week.

"It’s the children that are the ongoing source and catching up with them and their disease can be a challenge. An outbreak like this can go on for several weeks for that reason. It’s been exhausting for the parents, it’s been exhausting for the daycare staff."

More than 90 children use the facility and public health officials say the E. coli was brought in by one of them.

Babies and bearded dragons don’t mix: outbreak of reptile-associated Salmonella Tennessee, Germany 2008

 In early 2008, eight cases of Salmonella Tennessee were reported in infants in Germany; normally there is about one case per year.

Using a case–control study to identify the source of infection, German researchers report in the current issue of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases they identified 18 cases less than 3-years-old. Ten children were male; median age was 3 months (1–32 months). In 8 of 16 case households reptiles were kept. Although direct contact between child and reptile was denied, other forms of reptile contact were reported in some cases. Identical Salmonella Tennessee strains of child and reptile kept in the same household could be shown in 2 cases.

The researchers conclude that indirect contact between infants and reptiles seems to be sufficient to cause infection and should therefore be avoided.

9 sick including 3 HUS from E. coli O157; is Pennsylvania lake the source?

From the I-wish-I-hadn’t-said-that files, Terry Brady, a spokesperson with Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said Monday that the lake at Cowans Gap State Park remained open, despite links to three cases of E. coli O157. “The beaches are open and actually there was a good turnout today. A link to the park has not been established."

The lake was closed Tuesday afternoon, as the number of people, primarily children, confirmed to have contracted E. coli O157:H7 rose to six, with an additional three suspect cases.

At least three of the infected have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, including a 3-year-old Mercersburg girl who has been hospitalized since Wednesday, and a 12-year-old Chambersburg boy, who is now recovering after spending his birthday in the hospital.

Spokesman Brady said in an email Tuesday night that the closing of the lake at Cowans Gap is a precautionary measure "to protect the public’s health and safety until the investigation can be completed."

He said the decision was made after interviews showed that swimming in the lake before becoming ill was a common factor between all individuals.

Over the weekend, Nikki Gordon, a friend of the three-year-old’s family and another family friend, Amanda Stauffer, came up with the idea for a Facebook group to raise support. As of Friday evening, the group had 955 members, featuring hundreds of well wishes and regular updates on the girl’s condition.

Through her Facebook group, Stauffer has heard from several other people who say their children got sick after swimming in the lake at Cowans Gap, she said. They include a 6-year-old girl, a 15-month-old boy and several children who apparently suffered "mild symptoms" but did not require hospitalization.

"All of these kids have one thing in common, and it’s Cowans Gap. The only thing we do know is that they were all there," Stauffer said.

Children under four have highest incidence of campylobacter in Ireland

Children under 4-years-old present the highest incidence of illness from campylobacter the Food Safety Authority of Ireland said yesterday.

The authority’s scientific committee published a report recommending increased controls by poultry producers, retailers and consumers to reduce illness.

The bacteria found in the intestinal tract of birds causes four times more illness than salmonella in Ireland, the authority said.

More than 1,600 cases were reported in Ireland last year but the reality was much higher as there was “substantial under-reporting”, authority chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said. “What is particularly worrying is that we are seeing one-to-four-year-old Irish children having the highest incidence of the illness. There were 165 cases per 100,000 of the population within that age group reported in 2009,” Prof Reilly said.

Tragic: 2-year-old dies in German E. coli sprout outbreak

A two-year-old boy on Tuesday became the first child to die in an outbreak of E. coli O104 in Germany, taking the death toll to at least 37.

Some 3,255 people have also fallen sick in 14 European countries plus the United States and Canada, according to the World Health Organisation. Of those, 782 are seriously ill with hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The agricultural ministry in Lower Saxony said Sunday that it is still not clear how sprouts from a farm in the state became contaminated with the bacteria.

"It is not clear whether an employee brought the bacteria into the company or whether it was brought in with seeds which then contaminated the worker," the ministry said in a statement.

Shigella outbreak in Kentucky causes pool scare

A widening outbreak of shigella in northern Kentucky has residents keeping out of public swimming pools.

Eagle Country reports the Northern Kentucky Health Department says they’ve counted 74 cases, six of those in Boone County, as of June 7. The number of cases in an average year is 25.

The health department asks those who have been ill to stay out of the water for two weeks. Pools should also not allow non-potty trained children to be in them until further notice.

Some public pools, such as the Florence Aquatic Center, have closed while they undergo super chlorination.

Seven stricken in Texas E. coli O157:H7 outbreak

Seven confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 amongst children are being investigated in Amarillo, Texas.

Dr. Roger Smalligan, the public health authority for Potter and Randall counties, said four children, most under the age of 5, have been hospitalized. Smalligan said officials are trying to determine how and where the children might have contracted the bacterial infection.

Smalligan said six of the seven children had some contact but couldn’t discuss what that contact was or if the bacteria was showing up in a certain part of town or at a certain location. He did say that several of the children were related to each other.

E. coli infects two more children at UK school

Two more cases of E. coli O157:H7 have been confirmed in students at Redfield Edge Primary School in Bristol, U.K., bringing the total of confirmed cases to seven.

Of the three children admitted to hospital for treatment, one remains there.

At least 40 other children reportedly had symptoms.

The school was closed May 20.

Meals for kids from local restaurants should be safe; local school types should demand safety standards

Wellesley, Ontario, home of the annual Wellsley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival , the last Saturday every September, is a nice enough place. Now populated largely by commuters who want the tech jobs in Waterloo, Ontario, but the small-town lifestyle, the place keeps on.

But those commuting parents may want to check out what is being served to their kids at the local school.

As reported by The Elmira Independent, a local paper with lotsa investigative journalism credibility, 28 children ordered hamburgers on March 3, 2011, as part of Wellesley public school’s regular hot lunch program.

The hamburgers arrived at the school, wrapped in tin foil, from Wellesley restaurant and catering business The Grill and Chill Drive In; a number of students complained about finding “pinkish red,” undercooked hamburger in their meals.

Color is a lousy indicator of food safety, but when public health types visited the The Grill and Chill Drive In, they found failure to maintain records of manufactured meat to aid in identification, and failing to ensure food was cooked to a minimum internal temperature.

No thermometers.

Once informed of the potentially raw hamburgers, Wellesley principal Lee Anne Andriessen immediately called Region of Waterloo Public Health. She was told to collect all of the remaining hamburgers so they could run a full screen of the meat for any pathogens.

“Her concern was for the safety of the children involved,” said Brenda Miller.
The region’s manager of infection control, rabies, and vector borne diseases, said it was the principal’s good diligence that sparked the investigation and allowed health inspectors to begin work the same day.

Public health officials made calls to parents of all 28 children who had ordered meals to warn them about possible symptoms their children may experience if the undercooked meat was ingested.

Miller said 20 different samples were tested and no pathogenic organisms were isolated.

Miller said public health officials will continue to work with the school board to provide food safety awareness.

All schools that offer hot lunch programs through outside catering companies are advised to make sure the food coming into schools is produced at regularly-inspected premises.

In the weeks following the incident, the school has continued to use hot lunches supplied by the restaurant under investigation by public health, although the menu was different and hasn’t included any hamburger.

If parents want the service for their kids, fine, but ask questions grounded in food safety: like using a thermometer to make sure food is properly cooked, handwashing compliance, sourcing food from safe sources. An annual inspection from the local health types is not enough.