Sprouts strike again: 8 sick in KS, OK with Salmonella

Five people in Kansas and three in Oklahoma became ill after eating sprouts between early December and late January from Sweetwater Farms, Inman, Kan., according to a Kansas Department of Health and Environment news release.

kevin_allen_sprout(13)Five people in Kansas have become ill as part of this outbreak after consuming sprouts from Sweetwater Farms, Inman, KS. The last date of illness was January 21 in a Kansas resident. In addition, three residents from Oklahoma also have Salmonella infections that match the outbreak strain.

Sweetwater Farms was inspected and samples collected of irrigation water and product have tested positive for Salmonella bacteria although the strain has not yet been identified.

Sweetwater Farms has decided to voluntarily recall sprouts in lot 042016. Kansas Department of Health and Environment recommends that people not consume any sprout product from Sweetwater Farms at this time.

A table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-2-23-16.xlsx

Fancy food ain’t safe food, over 100 sickened: Overland Park dinner theater edition

Ah, Overland Park, the Richie Rich part of Kansas City.

Given that norovirus has about a six-hour onset, maybe those rich folk should demand a quicker public notification than 10 days, with over 100 people sick.

New Theater Restaurant in Overland ParkThe Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment are looking into an outbreak of norovirus infection among people who became ill after attending a performance at the New Theater Restaurant in Overland Park earlier this month.

More than 100 people who attended one of the two performances on Jan. 17 have reported illnesses, and four have laboratory specimens to confirm norovirus.

Former Kansas State professor (me) uses blog to track stories of foodborne illness

For former Kansas State University professor of food safety Doug Powell, E. coli isn’t an illness that only appears on his radar during an outbreak like the one traced to Chipotle this fall by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

dp.sweet.potato:feb.14Powell, who in 2013 moved with his wife to Brisbane, Australia (actually it was 2011; it was 2013 when Kansas State decided to dump me for bad attendance), compiles stories of foodborne illness daily on his blog, barfblog.com. Writing about it is his life’s career, he said by phone Friday, from Brisbane, to Samantha Foster of the Topeka Capital-Journal (that’s in Kansas, irony can be pretty ironic sometimes).

“Forty-eight million people get sick from the food and water they consume in the U.S. every year,” Powell said. “If we can make a little bit of a dent in that, then that’s a good reason to get out of bed in the morning.

When Powell started the blog — before Google and other developments made such information more readily available, he said — its purpose was to provide information so people could make informed choices. He said he doesn’t try to preach what to do or not do.

“When I started this 20 years ago, it was largely about parents saying, ‘We never knew,’ ” he said. “I wanted to make sure there was never a case where they said that.”

In a blog post Friday, Powell wrote about a Jefferson County family whose child became infected with a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli — the most virulent type of E. coli. The 8-year-old Meriden boy’s symptoms progressed from severe diarrhea to a point at which his kidneys began to shut down, Powell wrote.

doug.amy.wooli.oct.14According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 106 cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli had been reported across the state this year as of Tuesday. Of those, 11 were reported in Shawnee County. Compared with 2014’s statistics, this year’s are slightly higher, with 90 cases reported statewide, four of which occurred in Shawnee County.

“We don’t know definitively why there are more reported cases this year compared to most previous years,” said KDHE spokeswoman Cassie Sparks. “It could be the actual incidence is slightly higher. It could also be with the increased attention in the news lately, that physicians are testing more frequently, so more cases that are occurring are being identified.

“Infectious diseases also tend to cycle. In 2011, we had 108 cases reported for the year, so that was a little higher than usual as well.”

Powell said some research has shown physicians are more likely to check for a specific disease if it has been in the news. If they were to check for everything, that would be expensive and time-consuming, he said.

“When there’s something in the news, it triggers doctors to look harder for it,” he said.

Though Powell said the source of the Meriden boy’s E. coli isn’t clear and doesn’t seem to be part of an outbreak, isolated incidents are frequent and often tragic, sometimes causing lasting problems, he said.

KDHE’s annual reports, available online, state that E. coli occurs when susceptible individuals ingest food or liquids contaminated with human or animal feces. Outbreaks have been linked to eating undercooked ground beef, consuming contaminated produce and drinking contaminated water or unpasteurized juice. Person-to-person contact, especially within daycares or nursing homes, also can spread the disease, according to the reports.

powell.coffsPowell said he personally won’t eat many raw foods, including sprouts, oysters and unpasteurized milk. Produce, however, is problematic. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy diet, he said, though at the same time, they are the leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S.

Farm food safety programs are critical to keeping the poop out of the produce, Powell said.

“That entails paying attention to what you’re adding to your soil, whether it’s raw manure or other things,” he said. “It means knowing your source of irrigation water, because often … there’s been a flood situation and it’s coming from a cattle farm loaded with E. coli, and that becomes the water for the produce.”

Good hand-washing also is critical for farm employees, Powell said, because once produce is contaminated, soap and water do little to stop the bacteria.

“It has to be prevented on the farm, as much as possible,” Powell said.

More kids sick with E. coli in Kansas

When their eight-year-old son Xander developed an upset stomach and diarrhea one Friday night, Julie and George Wright had no reason to suspect anything other than a stomach bug.

e.coli.stec.kansasAfter all, with Xander being the youngest of six children, the Meriden, Kan. family had plenty of experience with minor illness. But that’s also why they knew it needed a closer look the next day, when Xander’s diarrhea became bloody.

They took Xander to urgent care, which sent him to Stormont-Vail’s emergency room. Tests confirmed a diagnosis that the family didn’t expect – Xander was infected with E. coli bacteria.

“We didn’t know where it could have come from,” George said. “It was scary because I knew it wasn’t good.”

Doctors began treatment, but, after a few days, the normally outgoing, rambunctious little boy got worse.

“He wouldn’t talk,” Julie said. “He just laid there.”

Doctors say the particular strain of E. coli Xander had contracted was producing toxins. After several days, it started attacking his red blood cells and shutting down his kidneys. Stormont loaded Xander on LifeStar for a flight to Children’s Mercy.

“I wanted to jump on that helicopter with him,” Julie said. “It was hard because then we had our other kids come in and tell him goodbye and they started crying.”

“I didn’t think I could cry as much as I did, but I did,” George said. “It was very scary.”

Unfortunately, Xander and his family aren’t alone. Shawnee County reports eight cases of shiga-toxin producing E. coli infection in 2015 in patients aged 19 or younger. The number is the highest in at least five years. Statewide, there’ve been 68 cases, up from 54 in 2014.


At least 3 sick with crypto from Kansas pool

Johnson County is taking some protective measures at specific pools after multiple residents were recently diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) said in a news release.

caddyshack.pool.poop-1“At this time, we have three confirmed cases and are tracking a few more possible cases in the community,” said Lougene Marsh, JCDHE director, in the news release. “We encourage everyone to wash their hands frequently and ensure their children take frequent breaks from the pool to prevent accidents.”

JCDHE is working closely with pool operators in Overland Park and Shawnee for cautionary measures to close and/or treat swimming pools with which infected individuals had contact.

61 sickened: Report released in Kansas Meals on Wheels Norovirus outbreak

The most likely source of a norovirus infection in Jan. in Kansas that sickened at least 61 was the Meals on Wheels kitchen in Chanute, but enough data to pinpoint a more specific source could not be obtained.

meals.on.wheelsThe outbreak was first reported Jan. 7 after several people reported gastrointestinal distress after eating Meals on Wheels in Neosho, Allen or Woodson counties.

The investigation was a joint effort between the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Neosho, Allen and Woodson County health departments.

Those affected by the outbreak received meals from Meals on Wheels centers from distribution centers in Chanute, Erie, Humboldt, Iola, Moran, Neosho Falls, St. Paul, Toronto, Thayer and Yates Center, all of which receive their food from the central kitchen in Chanute.

Individual county health departments carried out interviews with affected individuals in their counties while KDHE interviewed staff and volunteers at Meals on Wheels.

According to the report, 488 clients were served by Meals on Wheels Jan. 5 and 6. Attempts were made to contact all served. A total of 159 were successfully interviewed, with 123 meeting the criteria for analysis. Of those, 61 reported illness.

3 dead, 2 sick: Blue Bell Listeria victim’s wife speaks out

68-year-old Richard Porter faced several health issues during the last year of his life. He had cancer and gastrointestinal bleeding that hospitalized him at Via Christi Saint Francis in Wichita, Kansas.

blue.bell.scoopsPorter’s widow, Lois, says he was very sick and then things got even worse.

“He really should have been getting better. Sure enough they did a blood culture and that’s when we found out he had listeria.”

One of Porter’s doctors, Doctor Tom Moore, says while the bacteria did not play a part in porter’s ultimate death, it did make him a lot sicker.

Dr. Moore said, “The listeria was not in any way related to the condition in which he was presented. It was a complete surprise and one which could not be explained. “

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment was soon calling Porter’s wife to investigate. Dr. Moore said at that point it was an isolated case, but would turn into the first of the outbreak.

listeria.porter-PNG“They just asked questions about where I bought food, where he had eaten, where I had bought my groceries,” Lois Porter said.

Now, more than six months since his death, KDHE found the link, contaminated Blue Bell ice cream served at the hospital.

Lois Porter tells Eyewitness News she doesn’t hold any resentment against the ice cream company or the hospital. But she does say she’s extra careful about what she eats and is more concerned about contamination when it comes to food.

Kansas prisons yield repeat food safety violations

Dirty kitchen conditions and violations repeated for several months are among some of the more consistent findings in food safety inspections for Kansas prisons.

o.brother.prisonAlthough the corrections department adheres to Kansas Department of Agriculture food safety guidelines, like restaurants, it doesn’t rely on KDA staff to do the inspections.

Instead, both monthly and sporadic audits are conducted by Kansas Department of Corrections employees, some of whom work in the facilities they inspect.

“I hear what you’re saying in terms of looking like it’s all under one DOC umbrella,” said Jeremy Barclay, spokesman for the KDOC. “But we interact with so many different state agencies and branches of government and different divisions within the agency, that it’s pretty secure.”

The inspections cover the 19 months between January 2013 and July 2014. They include seven of the state’s 10 prisons and total 19 facilities, such as satellite units. The KDOC filled the request free of charge, because another entity already had requested the inspections. Inspections weren’t provided for the Topeka, Lansing and Larned juvenile correctional facilities because they weren’t in the original request.

blues.brothers.jailhouse-rockThe nearly 340 inspections show noncompliance and deficiencies month after month at several facilities.

The Kansas Juvenile Correctional Facility in Topeka, for example, repeated several mistakes for at least 10 months, including not taking proper temperature logs; not enforcing handwashing and glove use; not having employees and staff restrain hair properly; not keeping accurate chemical logs; and not having inmate staff up to date on food safety training.

Aramark holds the food service contracts in all the prisons, save the KJCF, which switched last October to Trinity Services Group after the service went out for bid. It was awarded a nearly $400,000 contract to work from October 2013 through June 2014.

In each prison, Aramark pays for a manager, an assistant manager and food service supervisors. Under them, are the inmates, Barclay said.

Inmate workers are supposed to be trained and supervised, but 20 inspections show those areas lacking for several months — half of which came from the KJCF.

Careful with that dead calf: Outbreak of cryptosporidiosis among responders to a rollover of a truck carrying calves — Kansas, April 2013

We saw a lot of weird stuff on I-70, usually bathtubs for cooking meth.

imagesBut according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in April 2013, the Thomas County Health Department notified the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Response section (KDHE) of two cases of cryptosporidiosis among emergency responders to a tractor-trailer rollover. The truck was carrying approximately 350 preweaned Holstein calves. An outbreak investigation was led by KDHE with assistance from the county health department; six cases of cryptosporidiosis were identified among the 15 emergency responders. No additional primary cases with this exposure or secondary cases were identified. Disease was associated with carrying calves (relative risk [RR] = 3.0) and contact with fecal matter (RR = 4.5). The calves were aged In the early morning of March 10, 2013, a truck carrying approximately 350 Holstein steer calves overturned in a snowstorm near Colby, Kansas. Many of the calves died as a result; many others were scattered outside of the truck. City police officers and county sheriff’s deputies responded to the incident, controlled traffic, and secured the scene. The officers then contacted a towing company and community volunteers with horses and cattle trailers to assist with righting the truck and securing the calves.

Because of the very young age of the calves and the injuries and stress resulting from the rollover, most calves that survived the initial impact were unable to walk and had to be carried by responders onto cattle trailers. Responders noted that most of the calves had scours. Deceased calves were loaded into the wrecked truck and towed to the local sale barn. The next day, towing company employees returned to the sale barn and loaded the carcasses onto another truck for shipment to a rendering plant.

Following the report of two cases of cryptosporidiosis in persons who responded to a tractor-trailer rollover involving calves, investigators from KDHE hypothesized that illness might be associated with exposure to calves, fecal contamination at the scene, and returning to a location without electrical power and therefore no hot water to thoroughly wash hands or decontaminate equipment and clothing. A retrospective cohort study was conducted among emergency responders to identify additional ill persons and determine risk factors associated with illness. For this investigation, a probable case was defined as diarrhea (three or more loose or watery stools in 24 hours) and either abdominal cramping, vomiting, or anorexia in an emergency responder within 10 days after the response to the rollover. A confirmed case was defined as an illness that met the definition for a probable case with laboratory evidence of Cryptosporidium infection.
KDHE interviewed responders by telephone using an outbreak-specific questionnaire. Fifteen persons participated in the response to this emergency; all were interviewed. Six (40%) respondents were ill and of those, two (33%) had confirmed cases and four (67%) had probable cases of cryptosporidiosis. Fourteen (93%) of the responders were male; all ill persons were male and ranged in age from 17 to 34 years (median = 29 years). Five (33%) responders were law enforcement officers; one became ill. Ten (67%) responders included towing truck employees, the driver of the wrecked truck, and other persons from the community; five were ill. The most common symptoms besides diarrhea were abdominal cramps, anorexia, and weight loss (five [83%] reports each). Five (83%) persons sought medical care.

Although positive rapid antigen test results from stool specimens from two responders prompted this investigation, no additional persons submitted stool specimens. The incubation period ranged from 6 to 8 days (median = 7 days). Among four persons whose illness had resolved by the time of interview, duration ranged from 7 to 13 days (median = 9 days). No deaths or hospitalizations were reported. At the time of the outbreak investigation, no calves were available to be tested for Cryptosporidium.

Ihe_outbreak_of_cryptosporidiosisn bivariate analysis, ill responders were statistically more likely than responders who were not ill to have carried calves during the response (RR = 3.0) and to have reported coming into contact with fecal matter (RR = 4.5) (Table). Responders who returned to a location without electrical power following the response were more likely to later become ill than those who returned to a location with power (RR = 4.5); however, this association did not reach statistical significance. No one reported eating any foods during the response; all beverages consumed were contained in sealable plastic bottles and consuming a beverage during the response was not significantly associated with illness (RR = 2.5) (Table).
Cryptosporidium transmission is fecal-oral and can occur through ingestion of contaminated recreational water, untreated drinking water, or food, or by contact with infected persons or animals, most notably preweaned calves. Outbreaks caused by Cryptosporidium are commonly associated with recreational water, including waterparks and swimming pools, whereas outbreaks associated with zoonotic transmission outside of farm settings are less frequently reported (2). The cryptosporidiosis outbreak described in this report was associated with handling preweaned Holstein calves and coming into contact with calf feces while responding to a tractor-trailer rollover. Six (40%) of the 15 responders became ill with cryptosporidiosis following this response. Occupational outbreaks have been reported in agricultural settings and veterinary schools (3–5). At least one outbreak has been reported among emergency responders following a firefighting response at a location where Cryptosporidium was detected in calf fecal specimens as well as in environmental water samples (6). This outbreak is the first report of both law enforcement and volunteer emergency responders becoming infected with Cryptosporidium for which only direct contact with animals and their feces was identified as the source of transmission.

Holstein cows are commonly used for milk production; Holstein steers born on dairy farms are sometimes transported to another location to be raised for beef. Very young calves being moved from dairy facilities might be deprived of colostrum and transported with calves from many different farms, which can increase stress and pathogen transmission among calves (7). Scours is common among young calves, and preweaned calves are most likely to be infected with Cryptosporidium parvum, a zoonotic species of Cryptosporidium that can be transmitted to humans (8). Calves in stressful situations usually experience more severe symptoms of scours associated with an increased shedding of enteric pathogens (7). Before the truck rollover, the calves were transported in crowded conditions over long distances during severe winter weather. Additionally, the calves were reportedly aged Contact with livestock, particularly young calves, is a risk factor for zoonotic transmission recognized by health professionals and animal industry workers; however, professional and volunteer emergency responders might be less aware of the potential risk (9). Prior to this rollover response, volunteer responders reportedly were not provided with illness prevention education. Responders did not wear personal protective equipment, but all wore work gloves and heavy outerwear because of the cold weather. Although community members were contacted to provide assistance, no veterinarian was consulted regarding the appropriate care or handling of the calves. A veterinarian could have provided guidance on minimizing transmission of disease while also overseeing humane handling of the animals. The rollover occurred during a snowstorm, and some locations in town did not have electrical power at the time which could have contributed to some persons being unable to appropriately clean or sanitize their clothing and equipment and could have made handwashing less effective or less likely following the response, thus increasing the risk for infection.
This outbreak highlights the need for awareness of zoonotic transmission among those handling calves, including emergency responders. Education of responders is important to prevent future outbreaks of zoonoses that might result from agricultural emergencies (9). Cryptosporidiosis prevention messaging should include instruction on the potential for fecal-oral zoonotic transmission. Education also should be provided on the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., disposable outer wear, rubber gloves, and rubber boots) during the response and postresponse clean-up. Responders should ensure that all protective clothing is promptly removed and disinfected after handling calves or coming into contact with their feces, followed by thoroughly washing hands with soap and water to prevent infection or recontamination (7). These practices are likely to help reduce fecal-oral exposures during emergency responses involving animals where the potential exists for zoonotic transmission of Cryptosporidium spp. and other pathogens.
Monique Cheatum, Thomas County Health Department.
1Kansas Department of Health and Environment (Corresponding author: Lindsey Martin Webb, lwebb@kdheks.gov, 785-296-3304)
Trotz-Williams LA, Jarvie BD, Martin SW, Leslie KE, Peregrine AS. Prevalence of Cryptosporidium parvum infection in southwestern Ontario and its association with diarrhea in neonatal dairy calves. Can Vet J 2005;46:349–51.
Yoder JS, Wallace RM, Collier SA, Beach MJ, Hlavsa MC. Cryptosporidiosis surveillance—United States, 2009–2010. MMWR Surveill Summ 2012;61(No. SS-5).
Levine JF, Levy MG, Walker RL, Crittenden S. Cryptosporidiosis in veterinary students. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1988;193:1413–4.
Konkle DM, Nelson KM, Lunn DP. Nosocomial transmission of Cryptosporidium in a veterinary hospital. J Vet Intern Med 1997;11:340–3.
Smith KE, Stenzel SA, Bender JB, et al. Outbreaks of enteric infections caused by multiple pathogens associated with calves at a farm day camp. Pediatr Infect Dis 2004; 23:1098–104.
CDC. Outbreak of cryptosporidiosis associated with a firefighting response—Indiana and Michigan, June 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2012; 61:153–6.
Kiang KM, Scheftel JM, Leano FT, et al. Recurrent outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis associated with calves among students at an educational farm programme, Minnesota, 2003. Epidemiol Infect 2006;134:878–86.
Santin M, Trout JM, Xiao L, Zhou L, Greiner E, Faver R. Prevalence and age-related variation of Cryptosporidium species and genotypes in dairy calves. Vet Parasitol 2004;122:103-17.
Gilpen JL, Carabin H, Regens JL, Burden RW. Agricultural emergencies: a primer for first responders. Biosecur Bioterror 2009;7:187–98.
What is already known on this topic?
Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal illness caused by the chlorine-tolerant protozoan Cryptosporidium. Transmission is fecal-oral and can occur via ingestion of contaminated recreational water, untreated drinking water, or food, or by contact with infected persons or animals, most notably young calves.
What is added by this report?
Two cases of cryptosporidiosis were laboratory diagnosed among 15 persons responding to the rollover of a tractor-trailer carrying approximately 350 calves. An investigation found four additional responders with symptoms meeting a probable case definition. Diarrhea following the exposure was associated with carrying calves and contact with fecal matter. This is the first report of both law enforcement and volunteer emergency responders contracting Cryptosporidium for which the mode of transmission was confirmed to be solely zoonotic.
What are the implications for public health practice?
Public health professionals and emergency responders should be aware of the potential for occupational zoonotic transmission during responses to incidents involving animals. Awareness, education, proper hygiene, and personal protective equipment use can prevent transmission of zoonoses during an emergency response.
TABLE. Exposures possibly associated with acquiring cryptosporidiosis among responders to the rollover of a truck carrying calves — Kansas, April 2013
Exposure No. of persons exposed No. of ill persons exposed Relative risk (95% confidence interval)
Carried calves 9 6 3.0 (1.2–7.6)
Contact with fecal matter 8 6 4.5 (1.3–15.3)
Location without power 4 3 4.5 (0.6–33.7)
Beverage during response 8 5 2.5 (0.9–6.7)

What’s wrong with Kansas? Westboro Baptist Church turned into turkey safety hotline by pranksters

Just down the road from my home in Manhattan, Kansas is Topeka’s most despised institution, The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), an American unaffiliated Baptist church known for its extreme ideologies, especially those against gay people.

turkeyAccording to wiki, the church is widely described as a hate group] and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. It was headed by Fred Phelps (although shortly before his death in March 2014, church representatives said that the church had not had a defined leader in “a very long time”), and consists primarily of members of his extended family in 2011, the church stated that it had about 40 members. The church is headquartered in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Topeka about three miles (5 km) west of the Kansas State Capitol.

The church has been involved in actions against gay people since at least 1991, when it sought a crackdown on homosexual activity at Gage Park six blocks northwest of the church In addition to conducting anti-gay protests at military funerals, the organization pickets other celebrity funerals and public events Protests have also been held against Jews and Catholics, and some protests have included WBC members stomping on the American flag.

The WBC is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination. The Baptist World Alliance and the Southern Baptist Convention (the two largest Baptist denominations) have each denounced the WBC over the years The church describes itself as following Primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles.

I guess they have the freedom to exist; and they have the freedom to be hacked.

According to the Christian Post a popular parody news website recently pranked the Westboro Baptist Church by issuing the organization’s phone number as a helpline for a fake turkey-related flu that the site reported on.

The National Report published a story last week that said the CDC had confirmed a new form of Avian flu had been found in turkeys distributed by a major supplier. The site also warned consumers not to eat any turkey on Thanksgiving because the virus had the ability to withstand cooking temperatures.

“In early testing, this virus has shown enormous ability to withstand cooking temperatures,” read the fake report. “This makes this a much more dangerous situation.”

The site claimed the only chance of killing the disease was by deep frying, which the National Report said only worked 50 percent of the time.

“In our food safety laboratory, we have found that only deep frying cooking methods have been effective at reducing the viral load, and even then, by only about 50 percent. At this point, we can not recommend any preparation method as safe.”

The site then issued what it called the “Turkey Safety Hotline” for consumers looking for safety updates. This number happened to be the contact information for the Westboro Baptist Church.

A report from Addicting Info says the church received countless calls which jammed its phone lines.