23 sick: Cryptosporidiosis outbreak in Illinois linked to 4-H projects

The Clark and Champaign county health departments say they’re investigating 23 possible cases of cryptosporidiosis linked to dairy calves brought to the region for youth 4-H projects. 

The calves were sold to children.  A Clark County epidemiologist says hydrogen peroxide is the only known disinfectant for killing the parasite. No other information has been released. 

Salmonella cases linked to Illinois chili cook-off

Kaitlyn Schwers and Don O’Brien of the Belleville News-Democrat report the St. Clair County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health are looking into reported cases of salmonella nearly a month after the chili cook-off was held downtown.

belleville-chili-cook-offThe county health department said it learned on Saturday that less than a dozen cases of salmonella had been confirmed by the state department of health through lab testing. Since then, the county health department said it has followed up with those individuals, who included some from St. Clair County, other area counties and at least one from Missouri, according to the health department’s executive director, Barb Hohlt. Hohlt said in those cases, individuals had said they attended the chili cook-off on Oct. 8.

“The individuals had went to their medical provider, and from there, subsequent testing was done,” Hohlt said.

Hohlt said the health department does not know the source of the outbreak and is still investigating the incident.

Wendy Pfeil, executive director of the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce, had estimated that around 60,000 people attended the two-day event last month. Previous reports said 46 food vendors competed in the chili cook-off, and more than 60 were at the event.

Hohlt said health department officials inspected all of the vendors prior to the event. She said the Chamber of Commerce has a checklist that it provides to each vendor to make sure everything is sanitized as well.

70 now sick: E. coli or Cryptosporidium linked to apple cider at Illinois fair

Apple cider served at the Pike Country Color Drive that happened in Pike County, Illinois has now sickened at least 70 people.

powell_kids_ge_sweet_corn_cider_00Health officials have already sent out a warning to those purchasers during the event and even advised health care providers to check for E. coli and Cryptosporidium, as these could be the reasons as well. As of the moment, they haven’t confirmed any information regarding the exact cause of those foodborne illnesses

A list of cider and juice-related outbreaks — 84 outbreaks leading to over 3,500 illnesses going back to 1924 – is available here.

30 now sick: Cider at Illinois fair

The Pike County Health Department and the Adams County Health Department along with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is investigating a cluster of gastrointestinal (GI) illness associated with the Pike County Color Drive, a large fall festival that spans several communities in Pike County, IL.

powell_kids_ge_sweet_corn_cider_00There have been 30 suspect cases of GI illness identified in attendees of the festival who consumed apple cider purchased from vendors at two locations. The etiologic agent has not yet been confirmed; health care providers should be encouraged to test for E. coli and Cryptosporidium until further information is available.

Ill individuals have reported symptoms including profuse diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and vomiting. Onset dates range from October 20 – 28. Persons have been hospitalized as a result of this illness, and additional illnesses continue to be reported. Further laboratory testing is pending. Symptoms usually last about 1 to 2 weeks (with a range of a few days to 4 or more weeks) in persons with healthy immune systems. Occasionally, people may experience a recurrence of symptoms after a brief period of recovery before the illness ends. Symptoms can come and go for up to 30 days. People who are especially vulnerable to this illness include: pregnant women, children under 2 years, elderly and immunocompromised individuals. If you attended the festival or consumed apple cider purchased from vendors at the festival and feel that you have these symptoms, contact your health care provider.

Investigators are seeking additional cases of GI illness that attended the Pike County Color Drive during October 17-18 and consumed apple cider purchased during the event. If you have apple cider that was purchased during the event that is fresh or frozen for future use, do not consume it. Contact your local health department so that the cider can be tested. Pike County Health Department: 217/285.4407 Adams County Health Department: 217.222.8440. Health officials who identify cases with this exposure history are asked to contact the IDPH Communicable Disease Control Section at 217-782-2016 or email justin.albertson@illinois.gov.

17 reported sick after eating at Illinois golf course

I don’t golf anymore.

grumpy.goatI like my wife.

But in August, 2005, during the halfway point of the annual International Association for Food Protection golf tournament in Baltimore, a burley, 50-ish goateed he-man requested his hamburger be cooked, “Bloody … with cheese.”

His sidekick piped up, “Me too.”

Our golf foursome of food safety types were alternately alarmed and amazed, but ultimately resigned to conclude that much of what passes for food safety advice falls on deaf ears.

I asked the kid flipping burgers if he had a meat thermometer.

He replied, snickering, “Yeah, this is a pretty high-tech operation.”

The young woman taking orders glanced about, and then confided that she didn’t think there was a meat thermometer anywhere in the kitchen; this, at a fancy golf course catering to weddings and other swanky functions along with grunts on the golf course.

The Kane County Health Department is investigating reports of possible food poisoning among people who ate at the Grumpy Goat Tavern in Elgin, officials said.

Seventeen people have reported suffering from “gastrointestinal disorders” after eating Saturday at the restaurant, located in The Highlands of Elgin golf course, as part of a golf outing, health department spokesman Tom Schlueter said. None were hospitalized “to my knowledge,” he said.

“There’s a possible food-borne outbreak in Elgin and we’re doing what we call ‘food investigation,’ and finding out what people ate and when they ate, and if they feel sick or if they’re not feeling sick,” he said.

Grumpy Goat Tavern owner Greg Shannon said he was aware of the situation. “The health department is handling everything — both the city’s health department and the Kane County Health Department,” he said. Shannon also owns Elgin Public House in downtown Elgin.

Mold on nozzles, poor temp control: Mexican restaurant allowed to reopen in Illinois

After failing a health inspection last week, Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant, located at 1319 E. Jackson St., was allowed to re-open after a forced 72-hour closure, $1,500 fine and a follow-up inspection.

548a3dff433e2.imageThe health inspection conducted by the McDonough County Health Department details the violations that prompted the closure.

According to the inspection, “many foods” were not being kept under temperature control. Potentially hazardous foods must be kept lower than 41 degrees or above 135 degrees. There were tests showing hot foods only at 107 degrees, and cold foods at 56 degrees.                    

Mold growth was also a problem in the restaurant. Mold was found in the soda nozzles at the bar and on the ice machine.

Illinois website now details restaurant inspections

Decades after other regions figured out how to do it and five years of trying to get restaurant inspection reports on their website, Illinois public health officials finally succeeded this month.

The site — c-uphd.org/foodinspections.html — now delivers a wealth of information on the inspections, including the inspection history and scores for more than 1,000 food establishments.

larry.david.rest.inspecThe health department opened the site earlier this month but did not announce it until Thursday.

“They can see more information because we summarized it for them,” said Jim Roberts, director of environmental health for the district. “I think we’re telling a public health story. You know if we just put up an inspection report or a score, which may vary from one jurisdiction to another, it is information, but it is very limited. This, I think, can help you make a decision because you have more information.”

The reports can be found on the district’s environmental health section, under “Programs and Services.” A user can search for an establishment under a variety of categories, including its name, adjusted score range and risk categories.

Food safety is more complex than a cupcake

William L. Hatfield, LEHP, PG, director of Environmental Health for the Boone County Department of Public Health in Rockford, Illinois, writes in this opinion piece that the intent of the public health codes is to prevent illness and injury to the public through preventative actions.

vanilla-cupcake-3The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Understandably, a large part of state and local codes involves the food industry.

In the food industry, inspections of food facilities, food production/storage and food personnel have been the preventative actions most beneficial to the public health. The inspections are intended to be conducted across the board whenever food is being offered to the general public regardless of age, income, intent of the operation or the political viewpoint of the operator.

There has been a lot of publicity recently involving a young person being required to comply with existing food codes to sell cupcakes. Rather than the focus being on the potential danger to the public of food products, the discussion became the age of the operator, entrepreneurship and government regulation.

– The age of the operator is irrelevant. The primary issue remains public health and safety; that is why the codes require a permit, which reimburses the taxpayer for inspection costs. If this young entrepreneur had wanted to operate a taxi service, no one would question the fact that a driver’s license would be necessary and that driving laws would have to be followed. That’s because everyone recognizes the potential danger to the public when it comes to traffic safety.

On the other hand, the general public is not as aware of the dangers involved in food production. Were these cupcakes prepared on a kitchen counter where the baby is changed, the cat is allowed to jump up and the parakeet flies overhead? Were eggs used in the recipe and were they candled grade “A” eggs or from the neighbors chickens? Were proper hygiene practices followed? Were proper techniques utilized to protect from cross-contamination of allergens, etc. Failure to ensure that these types of potential hazards are addressed can cause consumers to be exposed to foodborne illnesses, hospitalization and death.

– Entrepreneurship should be encouraged. However, part of being an entrepreneur is learning what the rules are concerning your selection of products or services. There are many, many products that can be sold with no potential danger to the public and would not require inspections and inspection-related permits. An individual could sell pencils, homemade craft products or offer a personal service such as lawn mowing, etc. Even with these products and services, it’s a good idea to check with local authorities to determine if there are rules to observe.

– Government regulation is not the issue. Most regulations are put into place because they have a decided impact upon public health or safety. The state food code, which came into effect in 1975, was determined to be necessary by our elected legislators to ensure that food being offered to the general public meets a minimum standard for wholesomeness and sanitation.

Regulatory exemptions are not the answer. Carving out exceptions to a long-standing law that was based upon recognized sanitation practices that protect the public from foodborne illnesses accomplishes nothing. In fact, each time an exemption is allowed, the overall protection intended by the original law is weakened. As a result, the code becomes unnecessarily convoluted and complex to the point that both the public and enforcement agencies are confused. Enforcement then is perceived to be selective, which is opposed to the intent of the original law.

The real solution to this type of issue is to remain focused upon the original intent of the legislation and only make those changes that are in harmony with that intent. If evidence and justification exists to deem cupcakes, for instance, to be nonhazardous and constitute no risk to the public, that product should be exempted so that anyone is able to produce and sell them anywhere at any time without regulatory oversight.

22 sick in Illinois: food poisoning suspected

The Jefferson County Health Department is investigating a possible outbreak of food poisoning which happened April 6.

Health Department Administrator Mark Stevens declined to give the location where the outbreak occurred. He said the department did not begin receiving reports of people becoming sick until April 9.

Becky Brooks, the director of nursing for the health department, said approximately 22 people are part of the department’s investigation, including the ones that presented no symptoms. Brooks confirmed there have been at least two hospitalizations as a result the incident — one person was still hospitalized Monday.

One of the victims said he and three other members of his group became sick following a Sunday brunch at the Holiday Inn and he is part of the investigation. All food at the hotel is prepared by Krieger’s Sports Grill, which is apparently being investigated.

12 sick with Salmonella in Illinois outbreak; McDonald’s cleared to reopen

That Bloomington, Illinois, McDonald’s restaurant that closed because of possible links to a Salmonella outbreak has reopened after tests cleared employees to return to work.

The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) and the Illinois Department of Public Health are still investigating the source of the salmonella cluster, which originated from individuals who reported eating at a variety of different restaurants in Central Illinois from Oct. 18 to Nov. 11. Not all cases in the investigation have a relationship to the McDonald’s restaurant on South Main Street in Bloomington, and the investigation at this time is focused on preventing further spread of illness.

The suspected transmission of salmonella related to this cluster does not seem to be a certain food, but rather human transmission. As a result, MCHD collected samples from all employees of the establishment to test for infection out of an abundance of caution. All samples collected from surface-testing in the establishment were free of salmonella bacteria.

At this time, 12 reported Salmonella Stanley cases have been confirmed through laboratory testing in McLean County.