Frozen strawberry shipment from Mexico contained $12.7 million worth of meth

Joel Shannon of USA Today writes a commercial shipment of frozen strawberries coming from Mexico contained $12.7 million worth of methamphetamine, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday.

The alleged drug-smuggling operation was discovered at the cargo facility at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge in southern Texas on Feb. 16, a release says. Officers found 906 pounds of the drug concealed in a trailer, CBP says.

A 42-year-old man who is a Mexican citizen was arrested in connection with the seizure, according to the release.

An analysis of data from the southern border indicates the vast majority of narcotics enter through U.S. ports of entry

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, 87 percent of methamphetamine seized along the border in the first 11 months of the 2018 fiscal year was caught trying to be smuggled in at legal crossing points.

UK Cyclospora shit fest

TTG reports a judge sitting at Manchester county court has ordered the disclosure of all documentary evidence relating to investigations carried out by Public Health England (PHE) surrounding cyclospora — a parasite spread by food contaminated with infected human faeces.

According to The Times, many customers claimed Tui did not tell them the Riviera Maya region of Mexico was subject to a public health warning due to cyclosporiasis before they booked.

This is in spite of 359 of the 440 British cases reported between June and October 2016 “involving travel to Mexico”, it is claimed.

Others customers allege they were handed a warning letter “only after their plane landed”.

440 sickened: Tui faces legal action from 400 people over Mexico sickness

TTG reports a  judge sitting at Manchester county court has ordered the disclosure of all documentary evidence relating to investigations carried out by Public Health England (PHE) surrounding cyclospora — a parasite spread by food contaminated with infected human faeces.

According to The Times, many customers claimed Tui did not tell them the Riviera Maya region of Mexico was subject to a public health warning due to cyclosporiasis before they booked.

This is in spite of 359 of the 440 British cases reported between June and October 2016 “involving travel to Mexico”, it is claimed.

Others customers allege they were handed a warning letter “only after their plane landed”.

Travel-related foodborne illness

A few years ago, my family and I embarked on a trip an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, a little get away from the hectic day to day musings in our lives. First day I decided to go for a jog  and was bitten by a wild dog travelling in a pack. I was shipped off to Cancun to start rabies postexposure prophylaxis. Second day, contracted norovirus. Third day almost left.

Colette Crampsey of the The Daily Record reports:

Reece Russell and John English both fell ill after eating at all-inclusive resorts in Cancun.
Two holidaymakers have told of their ordeals after being crippled by food poisoning bugs in Mexico.
Reece Russell, 28, was infected with salmonella, which led to inflammation around his heart.
And John English, 51, ended up in hospital with bacterial gastritis. He has been left with long-term health problems and has had to give up being a football coach.
Both men fell ill after travelling to all-inclusive resorts in Cancun.
Reece, from Dunfermline, went to the resort with his parents and sister in June.
He said: “About a week after I came home, I started falling very ill. I woke up at 1am with chest pains. In hospital, a blood test showed I had a high level of protein in my blood caused by possible heart attacks.”
Reece was diagnosed with myopericarditis –inflammation of the membrane and muscle around the heart. Tests showed salmonella was to blame.
He said: “The doctors implied that if I hadn’t gone to hospital when I did, it would have been significantly worse.” 
Engineer Reece, who stayed at the Bahia Principe, had to miss two weeks of work. He is seeking compensation from travel firm TUI.
John stayed at Moon Palace hotel with wife Janice and their two children in July.
After eating at a Brazilian restaurant, the Scottish Gas worker was violently sick and was whisked to hospital.
John said: “They told me my magnesium levels were very low. If that happens, your organs can shut down and you can die. It was quite frightening.”
The couple had to fork out £4000 for treatment and a further £1500 on John’s release the next day.
He said: “I’ve lost 2st and doctors have told me my blood pressure is through the roof. I could be on tablets for the rest of my life.
“I’m having to give up football coaching, which is very hard for me.”
A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear Mr English became ill. We advise customers to tell their rep or hotel staff immediately if they are unwell so they can get the right support.”
A spokesman for TUI said: “We will be contacting Mr Russell directly to review the matter.
“We regularly audit all of the hotels we feature in respect of health and safety, including hygiene.”

1 dead, over 200 sick: Salmonella Anatum infections linked to imported maradol papayas

This outbreak is one of four separate outbreaks currently under investigation that are linked to imported Maradol papayas from Mexico.

The Centers for Disease Control, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Anatum infections.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives a more detailed DNA fingerprint than PFGE.

This past spring, CDC investigated a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Anatum infections. Fourteen people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Anatum were reported from three states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Case Count Map page. WGS showed that isolates from people infected with Salmonella Anatum were closely related genetically. This close genetic relationship meant that people in this outbreak were more likely to share a common source of infection.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 20, 2016, to April 8, 2017. Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 year to 85, with a median age of 38. Ninety-two percent were female. Among 11 people with available information, 10 (91%) were of Hispanic ethnicity. Among those 11 people, 5 (45%) were hospitalized. One death was reported from California.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Seven (88%) of eight people interviewed reported eating papayas. This proportion was significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy Hispanic people in which 22% reported eating papayas in the week before they were interviewed. In addition, four of these seven people reported buying papayas from the same grocery store chain.

While the epidemiologic information indicated that papayas were the likely source of this outbreak at the time, investigators could not determine the specific source of contaminated papayas and the outbreak investigation ended after illnesses stopped.

FDA informed CDC that a sample from an imported papaya identified Salmonella Anatum on September 4, 2017. This sample came from a papaya from a grower in Mexico named Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya  de Tecomán y Costa Alegre in Tijuana, Mexico. WGS showed that the isolate from the papaya and the isolates from the 14 people infected with Salmonella Anatum this past spring were closely related. Bravo Produce Inc. was a supplier of Maradol papayas to the grocery store chain where four of seven ill people reported buying papayas. After receiving FDA’s recent Salmonella isolate from papayas, CDC reviewed the PulseNet database to look for matching DNA fingerprints in bacteria from people who got sick after the investigation closed in the spring of 2017. Six more ill people have been identified and CDC is investigating to determine if these more recent illnesses are also linked to Maradol papayas imported by Bravo Produce Inc.

On September 10, 2017, Bravo Produce Inc. recalled Maradol papayas packed by Frutas Selectas de Tijuana, S. de RL de CV. The grower of the recalled Maradol papayas is Productores y Exportadores de Carica Papaya de Tecoman y Costa Alegre in Tijuana, Mexico. The papayas were distributed to California from August 10 to August 29, 2017. The recalled papayas can be identified by the label on the fruit from the packing company, Frutas Selectas de Tijuana.

This investigation is ongoing. CDC and state and local public health partners are continuing laboratory surveillance through PulseNet to identify additional ill people and to interview them. FDA continues testing papayas from Mexico to see if other papayas from other farms are contaminated with Salmonella. Investigations are ongoing to determine if additional consumer warnings are needed beyond the advice not to eat papayas from specific importers or farms. Updates will be provided when more information is available.

Cyclospora: Back to the future

During the summers of 2015 and 2016, the United Kingdom experienced large outbreaks of cyclosporiasis in travellers returning from Mexico. As the source of the outbreaks was not identified, there is the potential for a similar outbreak to occur in 2017; indeed 78 cases had already been reported as at 27 July 2017. Early communication and international collaboration is essential to provide a better understanding of the source and extent of this recurring situation.

Cyclosporiasis in travellers returning to the United Kingdom from Mexico in Summer 2017: Lessons from the recent past to inform the future

Eurosurveillance, vol. 22, issue 32, 10 August 2017, DFP Marques, CL Alexander, RM Chalmers, R Elson, J Freedman, G Hawkins, J Lo, G Robinson, K Russell, A Smith-Palmer, H Kirkbride, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.32.30592

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22854

Food fraud: Mexican alcohol edition

To my four Canadian daughters: Pay attention.

Tourists to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico suspect they were given tainted alcohol.

Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes the scene at the swim-up bar at the Mexican resort where Abbey Conner was pulled listless from the pool in January was full of young tourists last month when an attorney hired by Conner’s family showed up.

It wasn’t surprising. It was a typical scene at an all-inclusive five-star resort where foreigners from both sides of the equator flock to escape their cold winters.

But as he watched, the attorney noticed something disturbing.

“They serve alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks,” he wrote in his native Spanish.

That single paragraph, buried near the end of a four-page report summarizing how 20-year-old Conner drowned within a couple hours of arriving at the Iberostar Hotel & Resorts’ Paraiso del Mar, offers a possible lead in the investigation into her death.

And it could shed light on the circumstances surrounding numerous reports from others who have told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they experienced sickness, blackouts and injuries after drinking at Iberostar and other resorts around Cancun and Playa del Carmen in recent months.

A Pewaukee family traveled to an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen in January. Their two college kids wound up unconscious, face down in the pool within two hours. Twenty-year-old Abbey died.

They told the Journal Sentinel they believe they were drugged or the alcohol may have been tainted. They questioned how they could fall into a stupor so quickly. And whether they had been targeted.

Toxoplasma at high levels in pigs from tropical Mexico

Background: Toxoplasmosis is caused by the protozoon Toxoplasma gondii, which is one of the most widespread parasites that infect animals and humans worldwide. One of the main routes of infection for humans is through the consumption of infected meat containing bradyzoites in tissue cysts. Pork is one of the foremost meat types associated with outbreaks of acute toxoplasmosis in humans (photo, right, from http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com).

pig-mexicoMaterials and Methods: Sixty blood samples were collected from finished pigs at slaughter and their sera was evaluated by an indirect-IgG ELISA. Matched muscle samples were obtained from the tongue and loin. Whole blood and tissue samples were evaluated to search for T. gondii DNA using a nested-polymerase chain reaction.

Results: Seroprevalence of T. gondii was 96.6% (58/60) of sampled pigs. Meanwhile, T. gondii DNA was present in 23.21% of tongue tissue samples (13/56), 7% of loin tissues (4/57), and 0% in blood samples (0/44), respectively. Two pigs were serologically indeterminate.

Conclusion: This is the first report of the presence of T. gondii DNA in tissue samples obtained from finalized pigs. Results from the present study suggest a high exposure to T. gondii in pigs intended for human consumption from the tropical region of Mexico. Thus, the consumption of some undercooked pork meat meals typical from the southern region of Mexico could represent a significant risk for acquiring infection for the human population.

Presence of Toxoplasma gondii in pork intended for human consumption in tropical southern of Mexico

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. September 2016, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/fpd.2016.2165.

IB Hernández-Cortazar, KY Acosta-Viana, E Guzmán-Marin, A Ortega-Pacheco, JF de Jesus Torres-Acosta, M Jimenez-Coello

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2016.2165

Washing is never enough but are they linked? Summer means Cyclospora in Canada, Mexico and Texas

Finally, some decent risk-based advice from a government agency.

Washing will not remove Cyclospora from fresh produce.

pesto.basil_.cyclosporaWashing removes very little of anything from fresh produce.

Canada’s Public Health Agency is investigating 51 cases of people infected with the single-celled parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis between mid-May and late-July. Forty-four of the 51 cases reported so far have been in Ontario.

The infection can cause watery diarrhea, fatigue, stomach pain

Though uncommon in food and drinking water in Canada and the U.S., the parasite often persists on fruit and vegetables even after they have been washed. Public Health Canada recommends that people cook vegetables and fruit imported from Peru, Cuba, India, Nepal, Mexico, Guatemala, Southeast Asia and Dominican Republic.

Last week, health officials in Texas also reported a major outbreak of the disease, and are continuing an investigation into fresh produce as a possible source. After a series of outbreaks linked to imported produce from Puebla Mexico in 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned imports from the region during summer months.

Previous outbreaks of Cyclospora have been linked to pre-packaged salad mix, basil, cilantro, raspberries, blackberries, and snap-peas.

At the same time, 148 British tourists have been confirmed with Cyclospora after visiting 24 luxury hotel complexes most of which are in the Riviera Maya resort near Cancun in Mexico.

Public Health England  are now warning UK tourists to be wary of travelling to Mexico and the Foreign Office have updated their website to include a warning from health authorities about travelling to the region.

On the toilet 30X a day: UK couple’s Mexico holiday hell after contracting Cyclospora

Tony Larner of the Mirror reports a British couple’s dream Mexican holiday was left in tatters after they were struck down Cyclospora.

hanging.on.in.quiet.desperationSandra and Lee Harper splashed out £3,700 on an all-inclusive Thomson break to Riviera Maya resort, near Cancun.

But the couple, from Birmingham, were unable to leave their room for almost a week after falling ill with Cyclospora and needing the toilet up to 30 times every day.

The pair claim they complained about their illness and hygiene issues at their hotel to Thomson, but did not got a reply until after they arrived home, the Birmingham Mail reported.

UK Health officials have issued warnings about visiting the area after almost 100 Brits were struck down with the bug since the outbreak began in June.

A spokesthingy for Thomson said: “Public Health England has advised us of a number of sickness cases associated to an issue called Cyclospora in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico.”

An issue called Cyclospora?

“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.”