Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 6-year-old in France dies from E. coli

(Thanks to our French colleague, Albert, who forwarded this)

Matthew, a child “full of life, very intelligent despite his disability ” according to his mother, Angélique Gervraud, died February 22, 2019 at the Children’s Hospital of Bordeaux. He had been sick for more than a month after eating an undercooked burger at the beginning of January 2019 says his mom in a forum posted on his Facebook page.

It’s probably poorly cooked mince that has contaminated Matthew, his mom is sure. “Matthew only ate that,” she explains. Matthew developed haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) usually linked to shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

And because food safety is simple – that’s sarcasm, which the French may not get —  the transmission of the disease can be avoided by simple actions, which advises the site Public Health France:

  • Cook meat thoroughly and especially minced meat at over 65 ° C(The Ministry of Health published a note to the attention of the professionals of the collective catering from February 2007, with the appearance of the first cases)
  • Avoid giving raw lai, and cheeses made from raw milk to young children. Prefer baked or pasteurized pressed cheese
  • Always wash your hands before cooking
  • Keep cooked and raw foods separately
  • Consume quickly and well warmed leftover food.
  • Do not give untreated water to children or the elderly.

In 2017, 164 cases of HUS were reported in children under 15 years of age. There are a hundred in France in general every year.

Always tragic: Washington state third-grader’s death may be linked to E. coli

Wendy Culverwell of the Tri-City Herald reports a Pasco elementary student has died from apparent complications of E. coli.

Ismael Baeza Soto, 9, died Feb. 11 at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, apparently of kidney failure brought about by E. coli.

The Benton-Franklin Health District is investigating the source of what sickened the boy. So far, it appears to be an isolated case that hasn’t been linked to other investigations, though future testing could change that.

“We have not identified any ongoing public health threats,” said Dr. Amy Person, the public health officer for the Mid-Columbia.

Trade live cattle, introduce next E. coli O26 sequence type

Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli serogroup O26 is an important public health pathogen. Phylogenetic bacterial lineages in a country can be associated with the level and timing of international imports of live cattle, the main reservoir.

We sequenced the genomes of 152 E. coliO26 isolates from New Zealand and compared them with 252 E. coli O26 genomes from 14 other countries. Gene variation among isolates from humans, animals, and food was strongly associated with country of origin and stx toxin profile but not isolation source. Time of origin estimates indicate serogroup O26 sequence type 21 was introduced at least 3 times into New Zealand from the 1920s to the 1980s, whereas nonvirulent O26 sequence type 29 strains were introduced during the early 2000s.

New Zealand’s remarkably fewer introductions of Shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli O26 compared with other countries (such as Japan) might be related to patterns of trade in live cattle.

Use of genomics to investigate historical importation of shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli serogroup O26 and nontoxigenic variants into New Zealand

March 2019

Emerging Infectious Diseases vol. 25 no. 3

Springer Browne1, Patrick J. Biggs, David A. Wilkinson, Adrian L. Cookson, Anne C. Midwinter, Samuel J. Bloomfield, C. Reed Hranac, Lynn E. Rogers, Jonathan C. Marshall, Jackie Benschop, Helen Withers, Steve Hathaway, Tessy George, Patricia Jaros, Hamid Irshad, Yang Fong, Muriel Dufour, Naveena Karki, Taylor Winkleman, and Nigel P. French

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/3/18-0899_article

E. coli in organic milk, kefir, sparks two separate recalls in Australia

Mungalli Creek Kefir 1 L has been recalled in Cairns and Townsville due to the possible presence of E. coli, while Organic Milk Group is recalling OMG Organic Milk 1 L in Tasmania with a best before date of February 4, 2019, also for the possible presence of E. coli.

No info on what type of E. coli was found.

North Koreans ordered to produce impossible amount of human manure every day to help save agriculture

Fox News is not the, uh, most reliable source, but they report North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has commanded every citizen to turn over an impossible 200 pounds of human manure a day for fertilizer in an effort to revitalize the communist country’s struggling agriculture.

The country’s leader first made agriculture the forefront of the economic recovery during the New Year’s address.

This led to the mass mobilization of the population to fulfill the government’s wishes and ensure the human manure quotas are met. If the people don’t meet their daily quota, they have to supply over 600 pounds of compost or livestock manure, according to Radio Free Asia.

“The entire population has been mobilized to produce manure as the first major task of the year,” a source told the outlet. “The authorities in each local region task factories, institutions and citizens groups with assigning production quotas to each individual.”

“They are demanding that each person produce 100kg of human feces per day, or about 3 tons per month,” the person added. “But how on earth can it be possible for one person to make 3 tons of human feces and deliver it?”

The absurdly-high quotas are forcing the people to either collect the human manure in cold or pay cash to others for the manure.

“Most people can’t [make or collect] 100kg per day, so they end up giving what they think is sufficient. The quota is therefore meaningless,” the source told the outlet.

Facebook don’t know food safety: Zuckerberg once served Dorsey cold, hand-killed goat

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recalls as his “most memorable encounter” with Facebook boss Zuckerberg, in a new interview with Rolling Stone.

“He made goat for me for dinner. He killed the goat,” Dorsey says, before clarifying that he didn’t actually witness the slaughter. “He killed it before. I guess he kills it. He kills it with a laser gun and then the knife.”

When the interviewer rightly questions Dorsey’s use of the term “laser gun”, Dorsey says: “I don’t know. A stun gun. They stun it, and then he knifed it. Then they send it to a butcher.”

Though it was undoubtedly a smart move for Zuckerberg to send the animal to be prepared by a professional after he killed it, he might have also considered hiring a chef, with Dorsey indicating the meat wasn’t exactly cooked when it was served.

“I go, ‘We’re eating the goat you killed?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Have you eaten goat before?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I love it.’ I’m like, ‘What else are we having?’ ‘Salad.’ I said, ‘Where is the goat?’ ‘It’s in the oven.’

“Then we waited for about 30 minutes. He’s like, ‘I think it’s done now.’ We go in the dining room. He puts the goat down. It was cold. That was memorable. I don’t know if it went back in the oven. I just ate my salad.”

Being ruminants, goats are a significant source of Shiga-toxin producing E. Coli (STEC) with estimates of 10 per cent contaminated.

A pledge to only eat animals he personally killed was part of Zuckerberg’s yearly self-imposed challenge in 2011. Laser guns weren’t specifically mentioned in the challenge, but at this point nobody would be surprised if he used one. Apparently the goat was one of six he kept at his Palo Alto property.

Scientists in India figure out how Salmonella infect plants

Sunderarajan Padmanabhan of Biotech Times writes that E. coli and Salmonella bacteria are the most common causes of food poisoning. Although most Salmonella outbreaks are linked to contamination during handling and transportation of the vegetables, there are also cases where the infectious bacterium had entered the plant when it was still in the farmland.

A new study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bengaluru, has solved the mystery.

They have found that unlike other disease-causing bacteria that enter the root, fruit or leaf by producing enzymes to break down the plant’s cell wall, Salmonella sneaks in through a tiny gap created when a lateral root branches out from the plant’s primary root.

The researchers were studying how different types of bacteria colonize the roots of tomato plants. While other bacteria were spread across the root, Salmonella clustered almost exclusively around areas where lateral roots emerge. When a lateral root pierces open the wall of the primary root to spread across the soil, it leaves behind a tiny opening. They figured out that it was entering through the gap with the help of fluorescent tagging and imaging.

They also noticed that under same conditions a plant with a greater number of lateral roots harbored a greater concentration of Salmonella than one with fewer lateral roots. Similarly, when plants were artificially induced to produce more lateral roots, Salmonella concentration increased.

Tomatoes plucked from these plants also tested positive for Salmonella infection, revealing its ability to travel all the way up to the fruit. “It is just like a systemic infection in humans,” said senior author Dipshikha Chakravortty, Professor, Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, IISc. The researchers have published a paper on their work in the journal, BMC Plant Biology.

Kapudeep Karmakar, Ph.D. student in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, IISc, and first author of the paper, noted that there are several possible sources from where Salmonella can reach the soil, such as manure containing animal faeces or contaminated irrigation water.

“Various studies show that irrigation water gets contaminated by sewage water. When that irrigation water is applied in the field, the soil becomes the portal for Salmonella to enter,” he said.

Heterosexual man: Development of a phage cocktail to control the top 7 shiga -toxin E. coli serogroups on fresh produce

Sorenne is afraid of bugs.

I told her the other day how Surgeoner made his students (and kids) stick their arms into boxes filled with mosquitoes – mossies as they’re called here – to see what dose of DEET worked, while the kids got bitten.

She became more terrified.

That’s OK, I have lots of parenting failures.

As the consumption of fresh produce increases worldwide, Shiga-toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) outbreaks linked to contaminated produce are becoming more frequent. Biocontrol of STEC using phages can be a safe and effective way to reduce STEC on fruits and vegetables.

Purpose: 1) Evaluate the effectiveness of 7 bacteriophages to reduce viability of E. coli serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O145, and O157 on lettuce and sprouts at 4, 10 or 25 °C and storage for 1, 24, 48, and 72 h; 2) to assess STEC phage effectiveness to reduce STEC compared to a conventional chlorinated water wash (150ppm for fresh produce, 1000 ppm for seeds); and 3) to determine if phage-insensitive mutants arise after phage treatments. Methods: 1) Phages either individually or as a cocktail (~108 log PFU/ml) were sprayed to control 105 log CFU/ml STEC spot-inoculated onto fresh lettuce and sprouts that were stored for 1, 24, 48, and 72 h at 2, 10, and 25°C. Samples were collected and bacteria enumerated on McConkey (STEC total numbers) and Rainbow agar (STEC individual serogroup numbers) after each storage period. STEC isolates were confirmed using latex agglutination tests specific for STEC, PCR, and Immunomagnetic Separation (IMS) to recover any surviving STEC serogroups. 2) A scale-up experiment with STEC phage cocktail and chlorinated water applied to lettuce, sprouts, and mung bean seeds (MB) was undertaken to further assess the effectiveness of STEC phage cocktail to reduce STEC on larger quantities of produce and to compare its effectiveness to chemical disinfection. Lettuce, sprouts, and MB were treated with: i) chlorinated water wash (150 ppm for lettuce/sprouts, 1000 ppm for MB); ii) STEC phage cocktail; and iii) a combination of chlorinated water and STEC phage cocktail. Phage cocktails were delivered by immersion. After treatment, lettuce and sprouts were stored for 1, 24, 48, and 72 h at 2, 10, and 25 °C. MB were stored in the dark for 24 h at 25 °C. Seeds were germinated in sterilized water and the survival of STEC isolates was assessed by plating on Rainbow agar. 3) To determine if phage resistant mutants developed during STEC phage treatment, isolated colonies surviving after exposure to phage were randomly picked and tested for phage sensitivity using a microplate virulence assay. OD was measured after microplate incubation for 5 h at 37 °C. Results: 1) In spot-inoculation experiments, the highest STEC reduction (3.7 log10 CFU/g) caused by the phage cocktail was observed at 2 °C after 72 h of storage on lettuce; whereas on sprouts the highest reduction (2.45 log10 CFU/g) occurred at 25 °C after samples were stored for 1 h. All STEC O157, O26, and O103 were killed by spraying phages on both lettuce and sprouts. Overall STEC phages reduced STEC by > 2 log10 CFU/g on fresh produce. 2) During scale-up experiments, the combination of STEC phage cocktail and chlorinated water achieved the highest STEC reductions on produce. On MB, the highest reduction in STEC (1.69 log10 CFU/g) was observed after treatment with the STEC phage cocktail alone. On MB germinated sprouts, the reduction in total STEC was < 1 log10 CFU/g in all treatments. However, none of the treatments eliminated all 7 STEC serogroups. 3) Regarding phage resistance experiments, no STEC mutants were recovered. Conclusion: Results showed that the phage cocktail was able to reduce STEC O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O145, and O157 serogroups alone, or in combination with chlorinated water on lettuce, sprouts, and MB seeds without the development of phage resistant mutants. However, for MB, the STEC phage cocktail was not effective at controlling STEC populations during germination.

Raw is still risky: Say no to raw dough

My mother used to make and lot of cakes and brownies with her groovy 1960s hand mixer and I always got to lick the beaters.

No more.

And it’s not just the raw eggs, it’s the raw flour.

In June, 2009, an outbreak of shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC, primarily O157:H7) in Nestle Toll House cookie dough sickened at least 77 people in 30 American states. Thirty-five people were hospitalized – from cookie dough.

The researchers could not conclusively implicate flour as the E. coli source, but it remains the prime suspect. They pointed out that a single purchase of contaminated flour might have been used to manufacture multiple lots and varieties of dough over a period of time as suggested by the use-by dates on the contaminated product.

The study authors concluded that “foods containing raw flour should be considered as possible vehicles of infection of future outbreaks of STEC.”

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when 63 people fell sick from the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 from Dec. 2015 to Sept. 2016 linked to raw General Mills flour.

There have been about a dozen other flour-related outbreaks. STEC means people – and kids – get quite sick.

Flour is a raw commodity, crops the flour is derived from could be exposed to anything, and testing is so much better than it used to be.

There are some brands of pasteurized flour out there, but people seem to have gotten used to flour as a cheap source of play-dough-like stuff for kids and something to throw at people.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control says, nope.

This is not a Christmas conspiracy (although I prefer Solstice Season): it’s CDC providing information, like they are supposed to.

People can, and will, do what they want.

As Maggie Fox of NBC reports, “Do not taste or eat any raw dough or batter, whether for cookies, tortillas, pizza, biscuits, pancakes, or crafts made with raw flour, such as homemade play dough or holiday ornaments,” the CDC advises.

“Do not let children play with or eat raw dough, including dough for crafts.”

Handling food, including flour, requires care and hygiene.

“Keep raw foods such as flour or eggs separate from ready-to eat-foods. Because flour is a powder, it can spread easily,” the CDC notes. “Follow label directions to refrigerate products containing raw dough or eggs until they are cooked. Clean up thoroughly after handling flour, eggs, or raw dough.”

Shiga-toxin E. coli at UK nursery sparks NHS probe

PA reveals a Perthshire school was involved in an E.coli scare last week.

NHS Tayside launched an investigation after a suspected case of the bacteria in a child at Errol Primary School’s nursery.

The nursery will undergo three days of deep cleaning as a “precautionary measure”.

Parents at the school were issued with letters from the health board with information on the infection.

The child was being tested for a non-O157 strain.

Speaking on Friday a spokesperson at NHS Tayside confirmed: “NHS Tayside’s health protection team is aware of and currently investigating a single suspected case of E. coli non O157 infection in a child who attends a nursery in Perthshire.

“As a precaution, a letter has been issued to parents of children at the nursery for information and reassurance.

“The risk to the wider public is very low.”