Hotel guests get sick at Orlando Marriott

An outbreak of gastrointestinal upset that affected several dozen guests who attended a conference at the Orlando World Center Marriott is under investigation by the Orange County Health Department, officials said Thursday.

Orlando World Center MarriottThe guests stayed at the hotel between June 29 and July 7 and have all gone home, said Gary Dybul, director of sales and marketing for the resort. Health officials said it was too early to tell whether the illness was caused by a virus or was foodborne.

Symptoms included nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and lasted on average from 24 to 48 hours, said Dain Weister, health department spokesman.

Most of those affected were adult guests, but a handful of children also fell ill as well as one employee, Weister said. Most symptoms were minor, but one person went to the emergency room for treatment and was released.

Global incidence of human shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli infections and deaths: a systematic review and knowledge synthesis

Objectives: Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are an important cause of foodborne disease, yet global estimates of disease burden do not exist. Our objective was to estimate the global annual number of illnesses due to pathogenic STEC, and resultant hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and death.

shannon.2006 Materials: We searched Medline, Scopus, SIGLE/OpenGrey, and CABI and World Health Organization (WHO) databases for studies of STEC incidence in the general population, published between January 1, 1990 and April 30, 2012, in all languages. We searched health institution websites for notifiable disease data and reports, cross-referenced citations, and consulted international knowledge experts. We employed an a priori hierarchical study selection process and synthesized results using a stochastic simulation model to account for uncertainty inherent in the data.

Results: We identified 16 articles and databases from 21 countries, from 10 of the 14 WHO Sub-Regions. We estimated that STEC causes 2,801,000 acute illnesses annually (95% Credible Interval [Cr.I.]: 1,710,000; 5,227,000), and leads to 3890 cases of HUS (95% Cr.I.: 2400; 6700), 270 cases of ESRD (95% Cr.I.: 20; 800), and 230 deaths (95% Cr.I.: 130; 420). Sensitivity analyses indicated these estimates are likely conservative.

Conclusions: These are the first estimates of the global incidence of STEC-related illnesses, which have not been explicitly included in previous global burden of disease estimations. Compared to other pathogens with a foodborne transmission component, STEC appears to cause more cases than alveolar echinococcosis each year, but less than typhoid fever, foodborne trematodes, and nontyphoidal salmonellosis.

Applications: Given the persistence of STEC globally, efforts aimed at reducing the burden of foodborne disease should consider the relative contribution of STEC in the target population.

 Majowicz Shannon E., Scallan Elaine, Jones-Bitton Andria, Sargeant Jan M., Stapleton Jackie, Angulo Frederick J., Yeung Derrick H., and Kirk Martyn D..

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. June 2014, 11(6): 447-455.

2 sick with E. coli from raw milk in Michigan

Two people in West Michigan, including a 6-year-old child, contracted a strain of E. coli after drinking raw milk from a cow share program.

colbert.raw.milkAccording to a press release from the Kent County Health Department, a 31-year-old Muskegon County women and a 6-year-old from Kent County became sick after drinking raw milk from an Ottawa County cow share program.

Both of these cases were reported in March and April of this year.

Not a fun plane ride from South Africa; Welsh children’s choir felled flying home

Eleven members of a children’s choir were taken to hospital suffering from diarrhea and vomiting after arriving back in the UK from South Africa.

Medical staff checked 60 members of the Only Kids Aloud choir from Wales after they arrived at Heathrow Airport from Cape Town via Dubai . Eleven were taken to Hillingdon Hospital in west London but were later discharged.

Wales Millennium Centre in CardiffThe children’s choir, with members aged between nine and 13-years old from across Wales had performed at sell out concerts in Cape Town. They sang with Welsh opera star Bryn Terfel on Friday and Saturday night.

Leftovers ap links people who want to share extra food

Leftovers didn’t used to be my thing. I used to loathe the idea of eating the same meal the next day (unless it was Thanksgiving turkey). With age my lifestyle and tastes have changed. I get up early, run a couple of times a week and have embraced the world of reheating food from the night before.Cold Pizza

I do a lot of the weekend cooking at our house and make meals that turn into at least another dinner and usually a couple of lunches. I get that this isn’t revolutionary (note the large market for Tupperware) but is new for me.

There is apparently a subgroup of leftover-avoiding folks out there who are also concerned with food waste, leading to  the development of a leftover sharing ap. According to KCRG, developer Dan Newman created LeftoverSwap as a way for folks to share extra meatloaf or chicken casserole with others in their location.

“We only eat 60 percent of the food we produce, and that is pretty much a global stat,” said Dan Newman.

He and some friends came up with the solution a few years ago, after ordering too much pizza.

“So all this pizza was going to go to waste. And we thought, how cool of an idea would it be to find a place or find someone in the area who would be interested in eating this pizza?”

That idea grew into a smartphone app called “leftoverswap.”

It’s easy to use: just take a picture of the food you don’t want to go to waste, and then post it through the app. It then drops a pin on your location with a picture and description of the meal, no exchange of money involved. Newman says it also works for unopened and canned foods, but food experts say the app raises safety concerns.

“So you don’t know if it was refrigerated when the person got home, or if they left it on the counter, you also don’t know if they sneezed or coughed into the food, had any saliva in the food when they were eating it. Also, there’s a food defense concern, so you don’t know if they inserted anything in it that could be harmful to you,” said Rachel Wall, a food nutrition specialist with ISU Extension (temperature abuse after sneezing would be a problem. Coughing is pretty low risk, but gross. Saliva would matter if the person was ill- ben).

Newman admits there is the possibility that traded leftovers could make you sick.
But, like with Craigslist, he hopes people will use common sense.

“Don’t give away anything you wouldn’t eat yourself. And if you do take food, make sure you prepare it properly,” Newman said.

What does prepare it properly mean? I’d want to know whether the members have the tools and info necessary to make food safely – and whether they actually did it.

Real-life Airplane as passenger lands plane after pilot ill

I first saw the 1980 movie Airplane at the drive-in. I thought it was dumb, because I was more interested in the girl I was with. I’ve since re-watched about 30 times, and it’s in my top-5 movies of all time (World According to Garp, Wonderboys, American Beauty, O Brother Where Art Though round out the current list).

Whatever plot there was in Airplane revolved around passengers stricken with food poisoning.

That plot seems to have been borne out in real life after the pilot of a small plane fell ill at the controls and two flight instructors were called in to the airport to give his only passenger a crash course in not crashing.

The man—who had no flying experience—managed to bring the plane in for a safe, though somewhat bumpy, landing at England’s Humberside Airport. “He made quite a good landing actually,” one of the flight instructors tells the BBC.

391 now sick, mainly kids; 8 multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to small turtles

Four of eight multistate outbreaks of Salmonella linked to small turtles remain under active investigation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control:

a total of 391 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella turtle.kisshave been reported from 40 states and the District of Columbia;

• 29% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported;

• 71% of ill persons are children 10 years of age or younger, and 33% of ill persons are children 1 year of age or younger;

• 45% of ill persons are of Hispanic ethnicity. Information about the association between reptiles and Salmonella is available in Spanish;

• results of the epidemiologic and environmental investigations indicate exposure to turtles or their environments (e.g., water from a turtle habitat) is the cause of these outbreaks;

• 70% of ill persons reported exposure to turtles prior to their illness;

• 89% of ill persons with turtle exposure specifically reported exposure to small turtles (shell length less than 4 inches);

• 30% of ill persons with small turtles reported purchasing the turtles from street vendors; and,

• 13% reported purchasing small turtles from pet stores.

The Food and Drug Administration has banned the sale and distribution of turtles with a shell length of less than 4 inches in size as pets since 1975.

Full details are available at

Maybe I’ll move: reporting of foodborne illness varies from state-to-state

I’m often asked in my international travels, why does the U.S. have so many high profile outbreaks of foodborne illness?

I say better disease reporting, and a vigilant (though declining) media watchdog.

But what about within the U.S.?

Health types from Tennessee and elsewhere in the U.S. examined variability from state-to-state and found those states requiring submissions to a state lab reported higher rates of foodborne illness.

Abstract below

Variability among states in investigating foodborne disease outbreaks

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease

Timothy F. Jones, Lauren Rosenberg, Kristy Kubota, and L. Amanda Ingram


Over 1,100 foodborne disease outbreaks cause over 23,000 illnesses in the United States annually, but the rates of outbreaks reported and successful investigation vary dramatically among states. We used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s outbreak reporting database, Association of Public Health Laboratories’ PulseNet laboratory subtyping network survey and Salmonella laboratory survey, national public health surveillance data, and national surveys to examine potential causes of this variability. The mean rate of reporting of Salmonella outbreaks was higher in states requiring submission of all isolates to the state public health laboratory, compared to those that do not (5.9 vs. 4.1 per 10 million population, p=0.0062). Rates of overall outbreak reporting or successful identification of an etiology or food vehicle did not correlate at the state level with population, rates of sporadic disease reporting, health department organizational structure, or self-reported laboratory or epidemiologic capacity. Foodborne disease outbreak surveillance systems are complex, and improving them will require a multi-faceted approach to identifying and overcoming barriers.

Poisoned dog’s vomit sends four to Colorado hospital with breathing problems

Norovirus can easily be aerosolized and sicken others when people barf.

Apparently the same applies to dog vomit.

The Daily News reports a dying dog’s vomit sent four people to the hospital in Colorado — an incident possibly triggered by a chemical used in rat poison.

The puke examined at the Vail Valley Animal Hospital in Friday’s poisoning likely contained zinc phosphate, commonly found in rat bait, the Eagle River Fire Protection District said.

“When the pesticide comes into contact with water, it forms a toxic gas,” said fire inspector Gail McFarland, according to the Vail Daily. “When the dog threw up, this released the gas as the pesticide had mixed with the contents in the dog’s stomach.”

The dog, which later died, had been brought to the Edwards-based clinic for treatment. Its owner wasn’t identified, and it was unclear where it came into contact with the chemical.

The fumes from the vomit caused three people to show signs of “respiratory distress,” while a fourth person was also taken to the hospital as a precaution. Their conditions weren’t immediately known Sunday.

Cases of veterinary workers getting poisoned by dogs that have ingested pesticides are not uncommon.

To protect themselves, animal experts say, workers should induce vomiting outdoors and stand upwind from the potential fumes.

Blame the Welsh: illness takes down rugby’s NZ All Blacks

Just 48 hours before the final test of an arduous season, almost all of the All Blacks have been struck down by sickness.

Only two members of the extended 34-man playing squad escaped the potentially debilitating bug, which first swept through the team in Cardiff last week.

Coach Steve Hansen said, “It’s been a difficult week with a lot of people being sick. We’ve had guys go down with diarrhea and vomiting. There’s only two that have missed out. Just getting that mix right has been difficult. Hopefully we’ve been smart enough to keep the energy tank full. … Apparently half of the UK has got it. Hang around here long enough and we’ll give it to you,” he joked to media.

All Blacks No 8 Kieran Read said, “Personally I’m feeling a lot better today. I know the boys had a good guided tour of their bathrooms yesterday on their day off.”

The sickness shouldn’t be anything like the “Suzie the waitress” food poisoning that ripped through Laurie Mains’ All Blacks before the 1995 World Cup final.