14 sick, 4 with HUS from E. coli in Calif. lake

An E. coli-contaminated lake in Nevada County, Calif., linked to the illnesses of 14 people will remain closed until at least Aug. 23, county officials announced Wednesday.

Hannah Knowles of the Sacramento Bee reports authorities closed all of Lake Wildwood’s public beaches last week after water testing confirmed reports linking E. coli infections to the lake’s Main Beach, also called Commodore Park. The county also advised against any swimming in the lake.

As of Wednesday, 14 people – 11 children and three adults – are believed to have contracted E. coli after visiting the Main Beach and, in many cases, ingesting lake water, according to the Nevada County Public Health Department. Lab results so far confirm 11 of those 14 cases are connected to the lake’s bacteria.

By Tuesday, nine people had been hospitalized in connection with the outbreak, county Public Health Coordinator Patti Carter said. Six had been discharged by Wednesday evening.

Four sickened children developed a serious condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can lead to potentially fatal kidney failure and anemia.

21 sick: E. coli outbreak linked to Nevada restaurant

Health officials in northern Nevada are investigating more than a dozen confirmed and probable cases of E. coli that might be associated with a Reno restaurant.

twisted.fork.nevadaWashoe County Health District spokesman Phil Ulibarri says 18 of the 21 cases seem to be related to Twisted Fork Restaurant in south Reno. The restaurant’s general manager says it will remain voluntarily closed until an investigation is complete.

Authorities say health officials are working with Twisted Fork to determine the source and investigating food products, storage and preparation methods. The Health District says the restaurant is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Ulibarri says the health district was originally notified of eight E. coli cases on November 4.

Officials say these cases are not related to Chipotle restaurants or cases in el Dorado County.

There’s a lot of norovirus in Nevada schools

The famed winter vomiting virus appears to be making life miserable for Nevada school kids. According to the Reno Gazette Journal over 1700 students in 20 schools have had the virus over the past 5 weeks and the outbreak appears to be spreading.

The case count might be real or it might be inflated due to self reporting (kids who want to stay home) or protective parents who don’t want noro in their house (keeping their kids home).

An outbreak of norovirus has reached such heights in local public schools that health officials stopped counting the number of people infected by the highly contagious illness, which causes days of diarrhea and vomiting.200187143-001

But the Washoe County Health District estimates – based on schools’ absenteeism and reported illnesses – that 1,760 students and staff have been afflicted at 20 schools and a few daycare centers, quadrupling the number of infections since the outbreak started at half as many schools on Oct. 1.

“We were hopeful it wouldn’t get to this point,” said county Director of Epidemiology Randall Todd, noting the virus’ rapid spread to a new school every few days.

The health district has advised the Washoe County School District and families to do three things at outbreak schools, which are concentrated in northern Reno, Spanish Springs and Sparks. The health district isn’t identifying the affected daycare centers.

Disinfect high-traffic areas of the school where surfaces are repeatedly touched, such as railings, desks, chairs and doors. Thoroughly clean and disinfect the area around a vomiting incident up to a 25-foot radius.

Wash hands frequently with soap and water — antibacterial hand-sanitizer does not kill the virus.

Sick students and staff must stay out of school for 72 hours after their last symptoms.

Such a “substantial outbreak” wouldn’t be possible if parents and staff were following all three protocols advised for outbreak schools, said Todd, positing that at least one recommendation isn’t being followed.

The health district hasn’t recommended closing any schools, and school officials said they don’t want to go there either for the sake of academics.

But they’re in luck. The week-long fall break starts Monday.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that fall break will give us the boost we need to put this behind us,” said Todd.

I said I quit, but really didn’t: Nevada health type walks out amid tensions over restaurant inspections

Disagreement over how restaurants are being regulated boiled over at a Southern Nevada Health District board meeting Thursday with an official offering her resignation and walking out after she was criticized by her staff.

Jacqueline Reszetar'sSouthern Nevada Health District Director of Environmental Health Jacqueline Reszetar’s staff thinks the department is too business friendly in its approach to restaurant inspections, according to Brian Shepherd, chief of staff for Service Employees International Union local 1107, which represents health district workers.

Reszetar also was criticized for making culturally insensitive comments, though it wasn’t clear what she is accused of saying.

“Excuse me, but today I will give you my resignation, today. You’re safe,” Reszetar said to her employees, according to a recording of the meeting. “You can go back to the environmental health that you feel comfortable with. I’m done today. Thank you very much.”

After the meeting, Reszetar said she had not quit. Dr. Joseph Iser, chief medical officer for the district, said resignations can only be submitted in writing.

Shepherd said employees in the restaurant inspection division have very little confidence in management, and Reszetar’s conduct emphasizes how difficult the work environment is.


‘These ladies been cooking for like 30 years and it’s a language barrier’ Ocha Thai Cuisine and 7-11 Bar

Health inspectors said the restaurant in this week’s Dirty Dining needs a talking to. They’re concerned their history of failing routine health inspections puts the public at risk.

Ocha Thai Cuisine and 7-11 BardThe Thai restaurant is a repeat offender. The good news? This time they don’t have roaches. That’s what shut them down the first time we were there. What’s got health inspectors so worried now?

They found enough problems to give a 37-demerit “C” grade to Ocha Cuisine on Las Vegas Boulevard near Charleston.

Inspectors found employees touching ready-to-eat food with bare hands. There was also food stored on the floor, excessive sticky build-up on soda nozzles and raw meat thawing at room temperature with dirty dishes.

When we paid them a visit, it was deja vu all over again. Manager Larry Xaypanya said much of the problem was due to broken equipment.

Last year, the owner blamed their problems on cultural differences with the way things are done in their kitchen.

Larry said that’s still an issue, “We’re family-owned and it’s kinda hard to tell the family anything, because these ladies been cooking for like 30 years and it’s a language barrier, you know? But now they understand.”

Triple dose of Dirty Dining in Vegas: Desserts, kabobs and more

When someone’s preparing your food, you probably hope they have clean hands. Three different restaurants were recently cited for failing to do just that, and one spot was shut down.

This week, we have a triple serving of Dirty Dining.

Hand washing is important anywhere food is served. At Bambu Desserts & Drinks on West Spring Mountain, near Decatur, employees weren’t following that rule.

The restaurant was shut down with 40 demerits. Usually it takes 41 demerits or more, but they were closed anyway.

Inspectors from the Southern Nevada Health District said none of the employees had a valid food handler’s health card when they showed up.

The inspection report said one employee was actually using their bare hands to scoop shaved ice into a cup for a customer. Slime and black mold were also found on the ice machine, and they were cited for re-using single-use plastic spoons.

7 outbreaks of Norovirus in Vegas

The Southern Nevada Health District Office of Epidemiology has, since March 29, 2014, identified 7 clusters and outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis illness in the Las Vegas area. Venues associated with these clusters and outbreaks include a hotel conference, several private gatherings, and long–term and memory-care facilities. Seventeen persons reported seeking medical care and 2 persons were hospitalized in association with the hotel conference.

norovirus-2Testing by the Southern Nevada Public Health Laboratory (SNPHL) confirmed NoV in multiple stool specimens obtained from ill persons.

SNHD, SNPHL, and the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (NDPBH), Office of Public Health Informatics and Epidemiology collaborated on the investigation and response to these outbreaks.

Strict hand hygiene is the most important method to prevent NoV infection and control transmission. Proper hand washing with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to reduce NoV contamination of the hands. Hand sanitizers might serve as an adjunct in between proper hand washings, but should not be considered a substitute for frequent soap and water hand washing.

The efficacy of sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) has been widely documented to disinfect human NoV from environmental surfaces. When possible, chlorine bleach solution should be applied to hard, nonporous, environmental surfaces at a concentration of 1,000–5,000 ppm (5–25 table-spoons household bleach [5.25%] per gallon of wa-ter) and leave in place for at least 4 minutes. A list of EPA-approved commercial cleaning products that are effective against feline caliciviruses (which in-clude NoV) is available at http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/list_g_NoV.pdf. Personnel performing environmental services should adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application, and contact time.

Additional infection control measures for healthcare and LTCFs are included in the SNHD Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of NoV in Extended Care Facilities and Nursing Homes available online at http://www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/health-care-providers/norovirus-guidelines.php 

100 ill from Mormon church pot luck in Nevada

Food poisoning caused more than 100 people to become sick following a potluck dinner at a Mormon church in Nevada.

A local hospital in Logandale, Nevada has seen people coming in with good spreadsymptoms of gastrointestinal flu all week long.

The outbreak in the Moapa Valley area that has sickened dozens of people.

‘We had 80 people here on Monday. Just today we had three more patients who were at the potluck come in,’ the official said.

Southern Nevada Health District officials would only confirm they are conducting an investigation of a foodborne illness outbreak resulting from a private potluck dinner held in Logandale, NV last weekend.


Fancy food ain’t safe food – Nevada golf course edition

“Bloody … with cheese.”

That’s how the burley, 50-ish goateed he-man requested his hamburger be cooked at a golf course in Baltimore in 2005.

caddyshack.rodneyHis sidekick piped up, “Me too.”

Our 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.

Darcy Spears of KTNV in Nevada reports that the 19th Hole Supper Club in Mesquite got a 35 demerit C grade on its July 29 inspections. Due to poor inspection history their management was caddyshack.bill.murraytold to schedule a supervisory conference with the Health District before they’re allowed to be reinspected.

Their violations were for things like expired food, improperly cooled gravy and fresh garlic in butter left sitting out at room temperature. Inspectors found multiple prepared foods in the walk-in fridge that were more than seven days old and they were using whipped cream that was more than a month expired.

When Chief Investigator Darcy Spears showed up asking for the person in charge, she was sent to a bartender who said the person in charge was Armando.

The bartender said Armando wouldn’t talk to us.

“What we got in trouble for not our fault,” explained the bartender. 

“The stuff in the health report is not your fault?” asked Darcy.

“Well, the cooler was down and it had just gotten repaired. And they were moving stuff out of it but it didn’t matter,” said the bartender.

The health inspector did note that neither the fridge nor the salad prep area were holding a safe temperature.

“I do know there was stuff like month old whipped cream and that is not a broken cooler when you’re serving month old whipped cream at least according to the health report that was happening. Improper hand washing,” explained Darcy.

“I don’t know nothing about any of that,” said the bartender.

Todd Peterson owns the 19th Hole. He sent a written statement saying his restaurant has been providing good and safe food for over 18 years. Most of the issues were corrected while the Health District was on the property. The rest have since been corrected and he said they’re positive their good rating will be returned.

Playing games to hide lousy inspection grades: Nevada edition

No one likes to get a “C.” Especially when that’s the worst grade you can get from the Southern Nevada Health District.

It means there’s a lot wrong at your restaurant. And folks who see that “C” might choose to eat somewhere else.

Perhaps that’s why Beijing Noodle Cafe on Sandhill and Flamingo kept their grade hidden from customers.  Contact 13 caught them in the act.

Darcy: You’re required to display that for the public.  The public needs to know that you have a “C” grade right now.

They were actually trying to fool people into believing they have an “A” by displaying old, outdated grade cards. The one in the front window is from June of 2011. The one inside from September 6 of this year.

We just happened to spot the current grade card, although you can’t see that it’s a “C.”  Restaurants are required to post those grade cards conspicuously.  It even says so on the card itself.  But theirs was in a place that hardly qualifies as conspicuous.

Darcy: Can you tell me why you have an A grade up there from September, and that C grade was hidden behind that wooden boat?

The manager didn’t want to talk on camera about their 32-demerit “C” grade.

She says health inspectors came during a particularly hectic lunch rush, and they simply didn’t have time to do everything right.

Darcy: They wrote you up for employees not washing their hands properly, for a bunch of food being at room temperature, which is not safe.

Beef, sprouts, cut tomato and fried rice were all in the temperature danger zone. And the person in charge wasn’t knowledgeable about proper food temperatures.

Raw eggs were stored next to cut vegetables and raw beef and chicken were stored over ready to eat food and sauces, which health inspectors see as a recipe for disaster because of the potential for cross-contamination.