Egypt investigates claims of hepatitis-A in strawberry exports

With 10 hepatitis A cases linked to frozen strawberries used by Tropical Smoothie Café in Virginia, and health officials saying the hep A strain has been associated with past outbreaks due to frozen strawberries from Egypt, the Egyptians are now investigating.

strawberry.harvest.egypeEgypt Independent cites Agriculture Ministry spokesman Edi Hawash as saying the U.S. has not officially informed Egypt of the claims, but the claims are being investigated anyway.

Agriculture Minister Essam Fayed has formed a committee, headed by the chairman of the Union of Egyptian Exporters, to investigate the issue, Hawash added.

He said that recent tests conducted on random samples of exported strawberries have shown no cases of the virus.

Hussein al-Hinnawi, the president of the Union of Producers and Exporters of Horticultural Crops, said he doubts that the reported hepatitis-A infections were caused by frozen Egyptian strawberries.

He said Egyptian strawberries are scrutinized at competent laboratories prior to export. Moreover, exporters have full awareness of good practice through the stages of production, transfer and export, Hinnawi said.

Egypt ranks first among Arab countries in the production and export of strawberries, exporting about 40,000,000 tons of fresh and frozen strawberries to 30 countries in Europe, America, Southeast Asia and the Gulf states, according to Al-Ahram.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe voluntarily withdrew all of the strawberries sourced from Egypt and found an alternate supply.

10 sick with Hepatitis A: Frozen strawberries from Egypt used in Virginia Tropical Smoothie Cafe customers

According to the Virginia Department of Health, people who consumed smoothies with frozen strawberries on August 5, 6, 7 or 8 may benefit from a vaccine or immune globulin to prevent hepatitis A.

Tropical Smoothie CafeAccording to a health department official, there have been 10 total cases of hepatitis A linked to the strawberries at Tropical Smoothie in Virginia so far.

The Department of Health has linked the smoothies with a strain of hepatitis A that has been associated with past outbreaks due to frozen strawberries from Egypt.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe voluntarily withdrew all of the strawberries sourced from Egypt and found an alternate supply.

The Department of Health says other restaurants and restaurant suppliers may have received the frozen strawberries. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify other locations where the product may have been distributed.

In a news release sent Friday, the department said genetic testing had linked frozen strawberries from Egypt, distributed to all 90 Tropical Smoothie Café locations across Virginia to the Hepatitis infections.

UK girl, 10, ‘could need kidney transplant’ after Egypt holiday

BBC reports that a 10-year-old girl could have to undergo a kidney transplant after contracting E. coli on a holiday in Egypt, her family has said.

emily.bridges.ukEmily Bridges from Queenborough, Kent, picked up the bug while on a trip to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada in May.

She spent a week on life support and is now dependent on immune suppressant drugs and 12 hours of dialysis a day.

Tour operator Thomson said the family had not contacted them but it closely monitored hygiene at its resorts.

Emily’s symptoms were initially diagnosed in Egypt as an upset stomach, but 24 hours after landing in the UK her organs began to shut down.

Her mother, Rachel, said: “Her kidneys stopped working. Her heart stopped working. They said it was like having a heart attack for five days.”

She said they were hoping Emily’s kidneys would recover from the damage but the “worst case scenario” was dialysis at home and “a transplant further down the line”.

The family said they were seeking legal advice about making a complaint.

In a statement, Thomson said it was sorry to hear of Miss Bridge’s situation, adding: “Nothing was reported to our team in resort or since the family has returned home.

“We’re not in a position to comment further, until the family have contacted us and we have had the opportunity to carry out an investigation.”

26 Brits win huge payout after contracting E. coli on holiday in Egypt

A young mum dad and daughter, who nearly died after contracting E. coli on holiday in Egypt in 2012, are among holidaymakers who have won a massive pay out from Thomas Cook.

sindbad-aqua-park-hotelRoxanne Barraclough was told by doctors that she was lucky to be alive after being admitted to a hospital with excruciating kidney pain following a family break.

Medics confirmed she had contracted deadly E. coli and, if left untreated, her kidneys could have ruptured.

Roxanne, 26, was one of 26 ailing tourists who suffered life-threatening gastric symptoms, after their stays at the Sindbad Aqua Park Hotel, in Hurghada.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell has now secured the group damages in excess of £100,000 from the tour operator to cover the holidaymakers’ pain and suffering and related losses.

Credit controller Roxanne, of Blackpool, Lancs, had noticed chicken sometimes served to guests at the four-star resort was undercooked and stopped eating it.

Just three days into their trip in July 2012, Roxanne, her partner Daniel, 24 and their seven-year-old-daughter Jessica fell ill.

Daniel’s symptoms continued two weeks after the young family returned home, with Jessica suffering for five weeks after the holiday.

sindbad_aqua_park_3On their return Roxanne’s illness became so bad she went for emergency treatment at an A&E department, where she tested positive for E. coli and was quickly transferred to an infection control unit where she spent a week receiving treatment.

Doctors later told her that had she not received urgent medical care both kidneys could have ruptured.

A Thomas Cook spokeswoman apologised and said health and safety was treated with “the utmost importance”.

She added: “We know how important holidays are to our customers and how upsetting it can be when they fall unwell while overseas. We have been liaising closely with the appointed solicitor representing Ms Barraclough, as well as other customers who stayed at the hotel in 2012, and are pleased that we have reached an agreement to resolve this matter amicably with them.”

Fancy food ain’t safe food – Egypt edition

Lawyers are investigating after a UK pensioner was hospitalized for five days and diagnosed with Salmonella food poisoning after holidaying at a luxury Egyptian resort.

John Middleton claims he caught food poisoning while holidaying in Egypt.

John Middleton claims he caught food poisoning while holidaying in Egypt.

John Middleton, 65, went on a two-week break to the five-star Sunrise Select Royal Makadi resort with his family in September.

On the final day of his holiday, John, who booked his trip through tour operator Thomas Cook, woke in the early hours with crippling stomach cramps and severe diarrhea.

The retired factory worker was examined by the hotel doctor and given an injection in his thigh to help ease his symptoms for his flight home.

When he arrived home in Sherburn Village, he tested positive for salmonella, a bacterial infection which can be caused by food poisoning.

John said: “When you book a luxury resort that is exactly what you should get.

“I had to suffer the emotional and physical trauma of being severely ill during the flight home. When you return home from a holiday you want to feel rested and relaxed. Instead I had to be admitted to hospital for five days, and I am still suffering from symptoms months down the line.”


Let them eat ass, say Egypt’s food safety officials

Donkey meat, though “disgusting”, is perfectly safe to consume, according to the head of the Egyptian Food Safety Authority, as food prices continue to rocket and grocery bills mount up.

donkeyAs long as the beast has been slaughtered hygienically, it is perfectly safe to eat donkey meat, Egypt’s top food safety official has announced.

And cooked to the proper temperature – whatever that is.

The statement is the latest twist in an ongoing food scandal in Egypt, as fears grow that donkey meat has been passed off as beef to unsuspecting shoppers.

“Donkey meat is exactly the same as any other meat,” Hussein Mansour told an Egyptian TV channel. “It is only harmful if it is slaughtered using unhygienic methods – but it is disgusting, and some religions do not allow its consumption.”

The official attempted to downplay public fears, saying the beast of burden – as well as dog meat – had long been eaten by blissfully unaware Egyptians.

“If you’ve eaten donkey by mistake, have no fears, nothing will happen,” said Mansour.

“Two scientific studies have shown that donkey and dog meat have been sold in minced meat and ready-made sandwiches for ages. It looks and tastes just like any other meat – even I can’t tell the difference.”

Local news reported last week that Egyptian police raided a farm in Fayoum, which was found to be raising donkeys for human consumption. A drove of 1,500 live and 30 slaughtered donkeys were reportedly seized from the farm.

The owner of the donkey farm, reportedly still in police custody, claims the animals were being raised to feed lions in circuses around Cairo.

Salmonella ‘nightmare’ on Egypt holiday

The parents of a 10-year-old girl who contracted salmonella during a nightmare holiday in Egypt are taking legal action.

coral-sea-waterworldMichelle Muzquiz and James Monks’ daughter Jasmin, who was nine at the time, fell ill on returning home after contracting food poisoning.

Her parents also fell ill with gastric illness days into their week-long honeymoon holiday at the Coral Sea Waterworld, in October 2013.

Now the couple from Westhoughton have instructed solicitors Irwin Mitchell to investigate and work to gain compensation from tour operator TUI UK for their ordeal.

The firm of solicitors is already representing 12 other people affected by similar problems at the same resort following holidays in 2012.

UK pilot contracts Salmonella at Egyptian resort, unable to work for four weeks

A holidaymaker has launched legal action after his family getaway to Egypt turned into a nightmare when he contracted salmonella.

When he returned to the UK, Alex Comley’s illness was allegedly deemed so severe he was unable to return to work as a pilot for EasyJet.

salm.egypt.resortComley, 33, from Bracknell, Berks, booked a 10-day break to Sonesta Beach Resort in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in July with tour operator Thomson Holidays with his wife Louise, 36, and two-year-old son Sebastian.

However, the all-inclusive trip, which cost nearly £2,000, was ruined only four days after they arrived when Alex was struck down by the bug at their four-star resort.

He claims his illness became so serious that after returning home he needed medical treatment and was unable to return to work for EasyJet for more than a month.

Say it ain’t so: Over 100 tourists got hep A from strawberries in Egypt, 2013

A multistate outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) among European travelers returning from Egypt occurred between November 2012 and April 2013. total of 14 European Union (EU)-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries reported 107 cases. Twenty-one cases from six countries were affected by strains of sub-genotype IB harbouring identical RNA sequences, suggesting a common source outbreak.

An international outbreak investigation team interviewed a number of cases with a trawling questionnaire to generate hypotheses on potential exposures. Some of these exposures were further tested in a case–control study based on a more specific questionnaire. Both trawling and case–control questionnaires aimed to collect cases’ vaccination details as well as epidemiological information. Most cases participating in either questionnaire (35/43) had been staying in all-inclusive hotels located along the Red Sea.

The case–control study found cases associated with exposure to strawberries or mango (multivariable analysis p value: 0.04). None of the 43 cases interviewed in any of the two questionnaires had been vaccinated. The most common reasons for non-vaccination was unawareness that HAV vaccination was recommended (23/43, 53%) and perceiving low infection risk in all-inclusive luxury resorts (19/43, 44%). Vaccination had not been recommended to five of the six cases who sought travel medical advice before travelling.

Public health authorities should strongly reinforce measures to remind travellers, travel agencies and healthcare providers of the importance of vaccination before visiting HAV-endemic areas, including Egypt.


Multistate foodborne hepatitis A outbreak among European tourists returning from Egypt– need for reinforced vaccination recommendations, November 2012 to April 2013

Eurosurveillance, Volume 20, Issue 4, 29 January 2015

Shigellosis or sunstroke?

This one time, when I was working at a greenhouse as a summer student, I called in sick and told the boss I had sunstroke (from working outside the previous day).

And then I went to a free lunch-time Red Hot Chili Peppers concert on Yonge St (that’s in Toronto, which is in Canada). I’ve matured since then.Red Hot Chili Peppers backstage before a gig in Boston, MA in August 1990. © B.C. Kagan

According to the UK Mirror  a per 250 Brits who visited a resort in Egypt were told by management that they were suffering from sunstroke – but it was actually shigellosis.

The Mirror revealed last month how First Choice customers caught the bug, thought to be shigella, at Coral Sea Waterworld, Sharm el Sheikh.

Victim Tracy Roscoe, 51, said she got a letter two days before she and her family were due to leave after spending most of the trip laid up.

“It stinks,” said Mrs Roscoe. “They tried to blame the sun when they knew it was a bug doing the rounds in the hotel.”

The letter – “Sunstroke And How To Stay Healthy” – referred to heat above 40C and how over-exposure and low fluids can cause sunstroke.

But many sick guests complained of poor food hygiene by staff.

Nick Harris of lawyers Simpson Millar – handling claims from 250 of them – said: “It’s outrageous if there was an attempt to intimate to customers that the massive sickness outbreak was caused by sunstroke, which is what the letter seems to imply.”