7 dead, 32 sick from Vibrio vulnificus in Florida in 2014

Outbreak News Today cites the Florida Department of Health (DOH) as saying there have been 32 cases and seven dead from Vibrio vulnificus in Florida in 2014. Those numbers include both food and waterborne sources.

Raw oystersV. vulnificus can cause disease in those who eat contaminated seafood or have an open wound that is exposed to seawater. Among healthy people, ingestion of V. vulnificus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In immunocompromised persons, particularly those with chronic liver disease, V. vulnificus can infect the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness characterized by fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin lesions. V. vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal about 50% of the time.

V. vulnificus can cause an infection of the skin when open wounds are exposed to warm seawater; these infections may lead to skin breakdown and ulceration. 

Roaches everywhere: Florida restaurant reopens after closure

The Largo Family Restaurant, 788 Missouri Ave. N., was shut down as an emergency closure Nov. 20.

635538519632170263-rra2The restaurant is a favorite meeting spot for customers like Bob Swenson and Carol Usiak.

“We come here all the time,” said Swenson. “We’re regulars here.”

The establishment is popular with seniors and families with small children. But some of those customers could be susceptible to getting sick due to serious health code violations.

The restaurant was written up Nov. 20 with 31 violations.

Problems were so severe the restaurant was ordered to temporarily close with roaches running around the kitchen right above where an employee was prepping food.

It gets worse, with more live roaches found in a box of lasagna noodles near the spices and single service items, and another roach in the corn meal container.

The inspector even reported finding dead roaches in the soap dispenser used by employees to wash their hands.

Probably staph: 55 people treated for possible food poisoning at Florida office

The Maitland Fire Rescue treated about 40 people Wednesday in a possible case of food poisoning at an office building, officials said.

vomit.diarrheaDeputy Fire Chief Will Watts said the office was having a “large catered event” when the employees started getting sick around 3:30 p.m. More than 15 people were hospitalized and were listed in stable condition.

“There’s a significant number of patients that have symptoms that are consistent with a stomach illness,” Watts said.

Dain Weister, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Health, said people were vomiting and had diarrhea.

“It’s a pretty big outbreak to have so many people become sick in one location,” he said. “It’s not too often that we have so many people sick.”

Survey says (and they suck) Florida worried about food safety

Floridians rank the importance of food safety behind only the economy and health care, according to a new study from the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education.

st.petersburg.florida.waterskiIn the online public opinions survey surrounding food-related issues in Florida, 85 percent of respondents said food safety was highly or extremely important. Floridians in the study ranked food safety third out of 15 identified issues, followed by food production practices at No. 9 and genetically modified food at No. 14. PIE Center researchers developed the 15-item index to track trends on how Floridians rank the importance of the issues over time.

Joy Rumble, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication and the PIE Center researcher who led the study (seriously, more titles?) said, “They’re really concerned about food safety. That was a really important issue for them. Although GMOs seem like a big deal in the media, when compared to the 15 issues, respondents are ranking GMOs toward the bottom.”


Doug Archer, associate dean for research with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and a food safety expert told Southeast AgNetd that foodborne disease statistics suggest that Floridians may give themselves more credit for their food-handling habits than they deserve. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Florida’s foodborne-illness rate led the nation from 1998 to 2008, but this may be at least in part attributable to the outstanding reporting system of the Florida Department of Health and the counties.

“Given our rate of foodborne illness, I don’t think what they think they do is actually what they do,” Archer said.

The PIE Center will host a webinar at 2 p.m. on Dec. 17 to dive deeper into the food survey topic. Rumble and Archer will discuss the survey’s food safety results.

Then on Jan. 28 at 1 p.m., the center will host a second webinar with Rumble and Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal genomics and biotechnology expert from the University of California, Davis, to discuss the survey’s findings on genetically modified foods.

Learn more about the webinars at http://www.piecenter.com/easy-as-pie/.

157 sick, up from 11 last year; reports of crypto rise in Florida county

The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County is asking for the public’s help to prevent the spread of Cryptosporidiosis, a disease that spreads easily person to person in in households, child-care settings and schools, and through swimming in contaminated water or from contact with animals.

listeriaDOH-Hillsborough says the number of Cryptosporidiosis cases reported to them has increased since school started in the county.

Since July 1, 2014, 157 cases of Cryptosporidiosis have been reported by DOH-Hillsborough, as compared to 11 cases during the same time period last year. Many of these cases have reported spending time at school or day care the incubation period.

The highest number of cases of infection is in those younger than 15. Health officials are concerned that the numbers of cases could increase if proper precautions are not followed.

Florida pageant mother secretly fed daughter tapeworms to help lose weight

Secretly feeding worm eggs to a child sounds like a scene out of a horror movie, but it was a reality for one teenage beauty queen, whose story was recounted on a recent episode of Discovery Health’s Untold Stories of the ER.

In an effort to make her daughter lose weight for a beauty competition, a Florida mother bought and fed tapeworm eggs to her teenage pageant star without her knowledge. Soon after, the girl was admitted to the hospital with painful stomach cramps.

The pain passed after the girl used the bathroom, and Maricar Cabral-Osori, the girl’s ER nurse, reported seeing a toilet bowl full of long tapeworms struggling to escape.

tapeworm.floridaShe said, “It was so gross and she had pooped all these tapeworms. There were a couple that were very long and wiggling around trying to get out of the toilet bowl.”

Cabral-Osori said the woman turned white when she saw what her daughter had passed. The guilty mother told her daughter that she had just wanted her to “lose a little weight” before the pageant.

Dr. Patricia Quinlisk of the Iowa Department of Public Health, says the use of tapeworms for weight loss is extremely dangerous.

3 dead, 16 sick from Vibrio in Florida

A newly reported Vibrio vulnificus case in Charlotte County, Florida, the county’s third case, brings the states total to 16, according to the latest numbers released from the Florida Department of Health today.

SUN0705N-Oyster7The total number of fatalities reported in the state remains unchanged at three. 

People can get infected with Vibrio vulnificus when they eat raw shellfish, particularly oysters. The bacterium is frequently isolated from oysters and other shellfish in warm coastal waters during the summer months. Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater. There is no evidence of person-to-person transmission of Vibrio vulnificus.

Vibrio vulnificus is a rare cause of disease, but it is also underreported. Between 1988 and 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) received reports of more than 900 Vibrio vulnificus infections from the Gulf Coast states, where most cases occur. In 2013, Florida reported a total of 41 V. vulnificus cases, including 12 deaths.

Gateway Pizza in Florida closed for final time

For the past year, there have been problems and repeat health code violations inside Gateway Pizza and Pasta Company. The restaurant is located in St. Petersburg on 94th Ave North, just south of Gandy Blvd.

10 Investigates has taken you inside the restaurant numerous times, after state health inspectors repeatedly found problems so severe they ordered the restaurant closed down. Now we’ve learned Gateway Pizza has closed for good after the state recommended a five-day suspension of the restaurant’s license and a $1,600 fine, the maximum allowed by law.

Gateway Pizza racked up 117 violations on seven different inspections according to state records. The issues included live flies and roaches in the kitchen, rodent droppings on and around the dough mixer, along with rancid chicken wings.

Ironically, the restaurant’s owner Gary Darin was himself a former food safety inspector for the state of Florida.

A sign on the front door says the pizza parlor will soon reopen with a new name.

Cryptosporidium confirmed at Florida water park

The Pinellas County Department of Health has notified the City of Tarpon Springs that they have received three confirmed cases of cryptosporidium in which the patients had been at the Tarpon Springs Splash Park during the incubation period.

doug.ben_.family-300x225All three patients attended the park during the fourth week of July.

The City completely replaced and treated the water and all associated water systems at the Splash Park on Aug. 1. In an abundance of caution, the park will be closed Thursday and Friday while this process is repeated.

The City says it anticipates the park will reopen on Saturday, Aug. 9 at 10 a.m.