Man had hundreds of tapeworms in brain, chest after eating undercooked pork

Alexandria Hein of Fox News reports a 43-year-old man in China who was suffering from seizures and loss of consciousness went to the doctor after his symptoms persisted for several weeks, only to discover that he had hundreds of tapeworms in his brain and chest, reports say.

The patient, identified as Zhu Zhongfa, allegedly had eaten undercooked pork, which was contaminated with Taenia solium, a parasitic tapeworm.

“Different patients respond [differently] to the infection depending on where the parasites occupy,” Dr. Huang Jianrong, Zhongfa’s doctor at Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, told AsiaWire. “In this case, he had seizures and lost consciousness, but others with cysts in their lungs might cough a lot.”

Jianrong explained that the larvae entered Zhongfa’s body through the digestive system and traveled upward through his bloodstream. He was officially diagnosed with cysticercosis and neurocysticercosis, and given an antiparasitic drug and other medications to protect his organs from further damage, according to AsiaWire.

Jianrong said his patient is doing well after one week, but the long-term effects from the massive infestation are unclear.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cooking meat at a safe temperature and using a food thermometer in an effort to avoid taeniasis. Humans are the only hosts for Taenia tapeworms, and pass tapeworm segments and eggs in feces which contaminate the soil in areas where sanitation is poor. The eggs survive in a moist environment for days to months, and cows and pigs become infected after feeding in the contaminated areas.

Once inside the animal, the eggs hatch in the intestine and migrate to the muscle where it develops into cysticerci, which can survive for several years. This infects humans when they eat contaminated raw or undercooked beef or pork, according to the CDC.

Rabbits can be risky: Chinese hunter diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild hare

My father’s family is Welsh, Newport, got the shit bombed out of them when he was an infant, and rabbit was a common meat.

Twenty-eight people in northern China have been quarantined after a hunter was diagnosed with bubonic plague on Saturday.

Chinese officials believe the unidentified male became infected after handling and eating a wild hare on Nov. 5 in the Inner Mongolia, according to state news site XinhuaNet

As a precaution, officials quarantined the people who had since come in contact with the man. None of them have exhibited fever or other symptoms of the plague, infamous for the Black Death pandemic during the Middle Ages. 

Two cases of pneumonic plague, a highly contagious form of the disease, were confirmed in China by local health officials last week. The two patients, who also were from Inner Mongolia, were diagnosed in Beijing and are currently being treated for the condition in the Chaoyang District. 

No epidemiological association has been found between the two cases, according to officials.

The plague is caused by Yersinia pestis — a common bacteria carried by rats, rabbits and squirrels, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Humans can contract the bubonic plague when bitten by infected fleas. Handling infected animals directly also can cause infection.

168 kindergarteners hit by possible salmonella in China

Cal Rolston of NCTY News reports 168 children were sent to hospital with possible Salmonella food poisoning in Dongguan, Guangdong Province prompting health authorities to shut down a kindergarten on Monday for two days. 

One hundred and three people, including 99 children, remained in hospitals in the city and neighboring Shenzhen, according to statements released by the Dongguan Health Bureau.

Nobody died or was critically ill as of Sunday midnight, the bureau said.

Just ill enough to go to the hospital.

Food fraud: Gel-injected shrimp from China

Ms. Yang in the southern China port city of Guangzhou bought six high priced giant tiger prawns in October—she was happy with the purchase until she found gel inside the heads of the prawns.

Juliet Song of NTD writes that such gel, the presence of which is not typically detectable upon superficial inspection, is injected some time between when the shrimp are caught and when they’re sold, in order to add weight and thus earn a greater profit. Shrimp sold live have not been injected, because the injection would kill the shrimp.

Chinese food authorities have not been particularly active in pursuing the cases brought to their attention, according to interviews and news reports, and there is not even a consensus at which point in the production line the operation takes place.

China is the third-largest exporter of seafood to the United States, and it also exports significant amounts of shrimp and catfish, representing 2 of the 10 most consumed seafood products in the country. Nearly $150 million worth of shrimp were imported from China between January and October 2015, according to data by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The problem of adulterated shrimp has persisted for over a decade, despite new cases regularly reported in the Chinese press. Some of the first well-publicized cases of the gel-injected shrimp appeared in 2005, the same year in which the municipal government of Tianjin launched a strike-hard campaign against shrimp injectors. The report, which referred to the campaign gave no details about how many were arrested, or whether the shrimp adulteration rings were broken.

It is unclear how much, or if any of the gel-injected shrimp make their way to these shores, but food safety experts said there is reason to be concerned. The Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert on Dec. 11, 2015, about the “presence of new animals drugs and/or unsafe food additives” from seafood imported in China, including shrimp.

Wu Wenhui, a professor at Shanghai Ocean University, said in an interview in the Chinese press that customers should be wary about industrial gel ending up in shrimp, given that it’s cheaper than the edible version. “Industrial gel is used for furniture, print, and contains many heavy metals such as lead and mercury, which harms the liver and blood, and is even carcinogenic.”

But the act of injection is itself potentially unsafe.

“Even if what was injected was edible gel, which may not itself be harmful, who can guarantee that the process is aseptic?” said Liu Huiping, a member of the executive council of the Tianjin aquatic products association, in an interview with the Beijing News.

 

Authorities investigating hepatitis A outbreak from Chinese salted clams

Authorities have launched an investigation into a hepatitis A breakout.

The City of Busan said nineteen customers at a restaurant have been diagnosed with hepatitis A between mid-June and early-July.

The city suspects the Chinese salted clams from the restaurant may have been the cause of the breakout and are looking into the correlation.

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.

 

Thermometers may help: Caterers in China are reportedly using AI to spot unhygienic cooks

Thepaper.cn (via the South China Morning Post) reports that local authorities in eastern China have tapped artificial intelligence (AI) to clamp down on unsanitary cooks in kitchens — and to reward those who adhere to best practices.

According to the report, a camera-based system currently being piloted in the Zhejiang city of Shaoxing automatically recognizes “poor [sanitation] habits” and alerts managers to offending workers via a mobile app. It’s reportedly the fruit of a six-year project — Sunshine Kitchen — that seeks to bring transparency to food preparation in catering, hotels, school cafeterias, and restaurants.

Zhou Feng, director of the Food Service Supervision Department in Shaoxing, told Thepaper.cn that the system can identify 18 different “risk management” areas, including smoking and using a smartphone. On the flip side, it recognizes four positive habits, like disinfecting surfaces and hand washing, and monitors kitchen conditions that might impact food safety, such as temperature and humidity.

So far, the local Xianheng Hotel and over 87 catering companies are said to have trialed the system, and authorities reportedly plan to expand the number to over 1,000 this year.

It’s not the first time AI has been applied to food safety.

In November 2018, a study led by researchers at Google and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health described a machine learning model — FINDER (Foodborne IllNess DEtector in Real time) — that leveraged search and location data to highlight “potentially unsafe” restaurants. FINDER took in anonymous logs from users who opted to share their location data, and it identified search queries indicative of food poisoning (e.g., “how to relieve stomach pain”) while looking up restaurants visited by the users who performed those searches.

In the end, FINDER not only outperformed complaint-based inspections and routine inspections concerning precision, scale, and latency (the time that passed between people becoming sick and the outbreak being identified), it managed to better attribute the location of foodborne illness to a specific venue than did customers.

San Francisco-based startup ImpactVision, meanwhile, leverages machine learning and hyperspectral imaging — a technique that combines spectroscopy and computer vision — to assess the quality of food in factories and elsewhere automatically. It’s now working with avocado distributors to replace their current systems, and with large berry distributors to potentially automate manual processes, such as counting strawberries.

Cronobacter: Not just for infants 156 sick at senior high school in China

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) has been widely used in traceability of foodborne outbreaks. Here, an interesting connection between Cronobacter sakazakii and foodborne gastroenteritis (AGE) was noticed. In October 2016, an acute AGE outbreak affecting 156 cases occurred in a local senior high school.

Case-control study including 70 case-patients and 295 controls indicated a strong association between eating supper at school canteen of the outbreak onset and AGE, as revealed by the Odds Ratio (OR: 95.32). Six recovered Cronobacter strains were evaluated and compared using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and WGS. A phylogenetic tree of whole genomic single nucleotide polymorphisms (wgSNPs) were generated to traceback the potential contamination source in this outbreak. C. sakazakii isolates S2 from a patient’s rectal swab and S4 from leftover food sample shared identical PFGE pattern and sequence type (ST73), and clustered tightly together in the SNP phylogenetic tree. C. sakazakii isolates S5 and S6 from food delivery containers were both ST4 but with different PFGE patterns. Cronobacter isolates S1 and S3 from two patients’ rectal swab were sequenced to be C. malonaticus and shared another same PFGE pattern with the same ST567.

The interesting feature of this study was the implication of C. sakazakii as a causative agent in foodborne AGE occurring in healthy adults, although C. sakazakii is considered as an opportunistic pathogen and generally affects neonates, infants and immuno-compromised adults.

An investigation of an acute gastroenteritis outbreak: Cronobacter sakazakii, a potential cause of foodborne illness

Frontiers in Microbiology, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.02549

Wei Rong, Baofu Guo Xiaochao Shi, et al

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2018.02549/abstract

Norovirus-contaminated raspberries likely caused deaths, sickened hundreds, in Quebec last summer

Frozen raspberries imported from China made hundreds of people sick in Quebec last summer and probably resulted in multiple deaths, according to a recent public health report. 

The infected fruits led to a wave of recalls in August 2017 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency because they had been used by a variety of food processors such as brewers, pastry chefs and ice cream makers and had been cooked in hospital cafeterias and residences for seniors.

The raspberries were contaminated by Norovirus. At least 724 Quebecers fell ill, a number that may represent just “the tip of the iceberg” 

According to Dr. Yves Jalbert, director of public health protection at the Quebec health ministry, it is clear that there were deaths over this period. No specific number has been given. Public health officials in Quebec do not track the progress of each infected patient. 

‘When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro’ To sate China’s appetite, African donkeys are stolen and skinned

An edited version of this fascinating Times story is below:

“This is the spot,” said Morris Njeru, gazing down at a tangled patch of farmland where he recently found the bloody corpses of David, Mukurino and Scratch — his last donkeys.

Mr. Njeru, 44, a market porter who depends on his animals to ferry goods around this city, had already lost five donkeys earlier in the year. In each case, the thieves slit the animals’ throats and skinned them from the neck down, leaving the meat to vultures and hyenas.

Four months later, all Mr. Njeru could find of the animals was a single hoof, which he pocketed as a memento.

Rachel Nuwer of the New York Times writes there are scant remains, too, of Mr. Njeru’s once comfortable life. Without his animals, his income plummeted from nearly $30 per day to less than $5. He can no longer afford payments on a loan for a small piece of property he rented, and he fears he will have to take his child from boarding school.

“My life has completely changed,” he said. “I was depending on these donkeys to feed my family.”

For Mr. Njeru and millions of others around the world, donkeys are the primary means to transport food, water, firewood, goods and people. In China, however, they have another purpose: the production of ejiao, a traditional medicine made from gelatin extracted from boiled donkey hides.

Ejiao was once prescribed primarily to supplement lost blood and balance yin and yang, but today it is sought for a range of ills, from delaying aging and increasing libido to treating side effects of chemotherapy and preventing infertility, miscarriage and menstrual irregularity in women.

While ejiao has been around for centuries, its modern popularity began to grow around 2010, when companies such as Dong-E-E-Jiao — the largest manufacturer in China — launched aggressive advertising campaigns. Fifteen years ago, ejiao sold for $9 per pound in China; now, it fetches around $400 per pound.

As demand increased, China’s donkey population — once the world’s largest — has fallen to fewer than six million from 11 million, and by some estimates possibly to as few as three million. Attempts to replenish the herds have proved challenging: Unlike cows or pigs, donkeys do not lend themselves to intensive breeding. Females produce just one foal per year and are prone to spontaneous abortions under stressful conditions.

So Chinese companies have begun buying donkey skins from developing nations. Out of a global population of 44 million, around 1.8 million donkeys are slaughtered per year to produce ejiao, according to a report published last year by the Donkey Sanctuary, a nonprofit based in the United Kingdom.

“There’s a huge appetite for ejiao in China that shows no signs of diminishing,” said Simon Pope, manager of rapid response and campaigns for the organization. “As a result, donkeys are being Hoovered out of communities that depend on them.”

In November, researchers at the Beijing Forestry University warned that China’s demand for ejiao may cause donkeys “to become the next pangolin.”

“In 2016, this business of donkeys erupted,” said Obassy Nguvillah, a police superintendent in Tanzania’s Monduli district, near the Kenyan border. “There were increasing numbers of cases of guys passing into the Maasai area, taking people’s donkeys and transporting them to the Chinese-owned processing plant.”

In Esilalei — a village located on a sprawling, drought-plagued savanna under Mr. Nguvillah’s watch — residents lost nearly 475 donkeys in a single year. While about 175 of the animals were recovered by tracking the thieves into the bush, police believe the remainder were sold to slaughterhouses. Unable to afford replacements, the former owners are still reeling.

Unlike Tanzania, Kenya’s donkey skin trade shows no signs of slowing. In 2016, prices for skins were fifty times higher than in 2014, while prices for live donkeys have nearly tripled, from about $60 to $165.

The country’s three abattoirs — all of which have Chinese owners or partners — reported processing just under 100,000 donkeys in two years, according to a government memo. Both skin and meat are exported to China, usually through Vietnam or Hong Kong.

Seventeen skin traders have also opened shop, mostly in Nairobi, and a fourth abattoir is rumored to be on the way. The abattoir owners insist that they are bettering the country by generating jobs and paying handsome prices for unneeded donkeys.

“This business has helped so many people,” said John Kariuki, director of Star Brilliant Donkey Export Abattoir in Naivasha. “Instead of having to sell cows and goats, Maasai pastoralists are selling donkeys to pay their children’s school fees.”

Goldox Donkey Slaughterhouse in Baringo County — the largest of Kenya’s abattoirs, claiming to process some 450 donkeys a day — also attempts to spread good will by providing free water to neighbors, and by paying school fees for four local children.

Waste disposal has become a significant issue. Last fall, Goldox began dumping donkey remains at a parcel of land it purchased in Chemogoch village, down the road from its slaughterhouse.

After residents living adjacent to the site complained, the company began burying the waste rather than leaving it in the open. But neighbors say the situation is still unacceptable, accusing the company of contaminating ground water and breeding disease.

 “Should we go into the cocaine business or the sale of elephant tusks just because it makes money?” asked Dr. Onyango