Students sickened with E. coli O157:H7 after playing in farm’s mud pit at party

In June 1997, at least seven persons who attended the Glastonbury Music Festival in the U.K. were infected with Escherichia coli O157. A cow belonging to a herd that had previously grazed the site tested positive for the same strain, leading researchers to conclude the most likely vehicle of infection was mud contaminated with Escherichia coli O157 from infected cattle.

??In June 2007, hundreds were stricken and 18 tested positive for campylobacter during the annual Test of Metal mountain bike race in Squamish, B.C.?? Dr. Paul Martiquet, the chief medical officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, said, "This was an outbreak with a high attack rate. Our future advice to the race organizers is to inspect the route prior to the race to ensure it is not littered with animal feces, and not end the race at the horse ring. If there is any horse poop, they have to remove it."

Up to 160 people who attended the Merida Bikes mountain bike Marathon July 5-6, 2008, based on Builth Wells, in Wales, fell ill, and 10 of the riders tested positive for campylobacter. The report described the course as,??“very muddy and contaminated with sheep slurry in certain areas, leading to significant amounts of mud splashing over participants and their equipment. … The most statistically significant risk was the inadvertent ingestion of mud.

Today, the News Star reports three Ouachita Christian School students in Louisiana were admitted to local hospitals late last week with E. coli O157:H7 after attending an end-of-the-year party at a farm and playing in a mud pit.

Dr. Shelley Jones, Region 8 director of the Department of Health and Hospitals, said Tuesday, “The most important thing people can do is properly wash their hands. Parents of other students at the party need to make sure they and their children wash their hands thoroughly.”

Or not party in mud pits on farms.

Food poisoning incident at Singapore sports school

Over 100 students at Singapore Sports School were stricken with food poisoning from Nov. 1-3, 2010.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) are investigating into a food poisoning incident involving a licensed caterer, ISS Catering Services Pte Ltd.

As a precautionary measure, the canteen operator, ISS Catering Services Pte Ltd, was required to clean up the food preparation and refreshment areas of the canteen. MOH has advised the school to be alert to new cases and to ensure high standards of hygiene among students, staff and food handlers. NEA will continue to work with the school to monitor the hygiene situation at the canteen closely.

Salmonella outbreak in Oklahoma students

The Oklahoma state health department has confirmed 10 children at four different Mustang elementary schools have contracted the same strain of Salmonella. The first case was spotted Sept. 2 and the last case was reported Sept. 13. The Health Department has teams in Mustang trying to determine the cause of the outbreak. No children have been hospitalized.

In a letter to parents and guardians, Mustang Public Schools said, and I’m not making this up,

“Mustang Public Schools’ Child Nutrition Department has a stellar record, and we want to assure our parents salmonellosis is not necessarily related to food preparation. Salmonella begins with a contaminated product, and we are working diligently with the State Department of Health officials to determine the origin of the cases.

OK, what’s it related too?

Food safety needs new messages, new media; bites and barfblog need you

New messages, new media. That’s become sortof our mantra here at because, as the Washington Post reiterated this morning,

“Between 1998 and 2004, illnesses reported by CDC that were caused by E. Coli, listeria, campylobacter and a few other bacteria decreased by 25 to 30 percent, perhaps because of improvements in the handling of meat and eggs. Since about 2004, however, the rate of these illnesses has basically remained steady.”

There’s lots of new media toys out there, but it’s the high-tech version of signs that say, “Employees Must Wash Hands.” Reposting press releases – especially in the absence of critical analysis — is a waste of bandwidth and resources. And there is no evidence it results in fewer sick people.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for,, and the bites-l listserv (as well as the infosheets and videos; how about a movie?). ??????In addition to the public exposure – why not stick your company logo on the bites-l newsletter that directs electronic readers to your home site or whatever you’re flogging that week — and reaching a desired audience, you can receive custom food safety news and analysis. We’ve also resurrected the food safety risk analysis team – assessment, management and communication – and offer 24/7 availability and insanely rapid turnaround times. If your group has a food safety issue — short-term or long-term — work with us.

The money is used to support the on-going expenses of the news-gathering and distribution activities, and to develop the next generation of high school, undergraduate and graduate students who will integrate science and communication skills to deliver compelling food safety messages using a variety of media. Research, training and outreach are all connected in our food safety world.

If you have a sponsorship idea, let’s explore it. Feeling altruistic? Click on the donate button in the upper right corner of or on Want to just send a check? Make it out to: K-State Olathe Innovation Campus, Inc.???18001 W. 106th St., Ste 130???Olathe, KS 66061 and send to Terri Bogina??????.

Kentucky father says his three children caught salmonella from class lizard

Taking classroom pets home for the weekend was a kindergarten ritual 40 years ago, along with the scurrying to find the bunny corpse behind the couch and returning it to class Monday morning.

It’s not dead. It’s sleeping. Tuckered out.

Jerry Curtsinger of Louisville, Kentucky, thought it would be a good idea if his kids could bring home the green anoles, a type of small, green lizard, that are apparently science class favorites.

Curtsinger said the problems began two weeks after his kids took home two lizards from school.

"Caden, our youngest, he got sick, and he had a fever of between 101 and 102.”

In the weeks that followed, Curtsinger and his two other children also became violently ill. And he said the doctor’s diagnosis was salmonella.

Curtsinger learned about three out of four lizards carry salmonella. So he brought his concerns to the Jefferson County Public School District.

Lee Ann Nickerson, a science specialist with JCPS, said JCPS has a standard letter that is sent to all parents when their children want to adopt any kind of class pet, which outline the guidelines of each adoption and give some caretaking tips. After the Curtsinger family’s salmonella episode, a new warning was inserted into that letter in bold italics.

Those classroom pets are now on double secret probation.

Nickerson said JCPS has been using lizards to demonstrate habitats in science class for several years, and this is the first time anyone has contracted salmonella from them. She also noted that other common pets, such as dogs, can also carry salmonella. Like lizards, they’re perfectly safe as long as you practice proper handwashing when you handle them.

I’m sure that’s tremendously comforting to the Curtsinger’s of Kentucky.

Herpes, hepatitis A, swine flu — beer pong transmits disease?

No beer pong? What is college life without beer pong?

Last year, some publication at the University of California at Los Angeles – UCLA – warned students that beer pong, a communal drinking game, could be a source of infectious disease like herpes.

The N.Y Times reports tomorrow that students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., are being asked to refrain from playing beer pong after an outbreak of illness that officials feared might be swine flu.

The story notes that what used to be O.K. is not anymore, as the flu has ushered in new standards of etiquette that can be, in turns, mundane, absurd and heartbreaking.

Heartbreaking and beer pong. College life is tragic.

British school headmaster channels John Cleese in response to campylobacter outbreak

My favorite John Cleese movie is not one of the Monty Python things, or a Fish Called Wanda, or the Faulty Towers TV bits. It is the rarely seen and vastly underappreciated 1986 effort, Clockwise. It is so … British.

“Brian Stimpson (John Cleese) is the headmaster of a comprehensive (high) school in England. He sets himself, his staff and pupils very high standards. On the way to a conference at which he is to talk, all manner of disasters strike."

Brian Stimpson came to mind after This is Croydon Today reported that Cumnor House School, in Pampisford Road, South Croydon, has been hit by an outbreak of campylobacter.

Headteacher Peter Clare-Hunt, who I am totally envisioning as John Cleese, insists there is no proof that the bug came from the school kitchen.

"We have had five confirmed cases of campylobacter which is a type of food poisoning.

“The recommendation that the environmental health and independent food hygiene consultant made are all very minor and by minor I mean temperatures of fridges. But there is nothing sinister.

"We’re talking about food storage, temperatures of fridges not being too high or too low, making sure we don’t prepare raw meat alongside salads.”

Yes, John-Cleese-in-Clockwise character: don’t prepare raw meat alongside salads.

Headteacher Peter Clare-Hunt also said,

"In terms of tracing this back to the kitchen that will never be proved one way or the other."

How reassuring.

Lizard droppings may have poisoned Bangladesh students

Lizard droppings or similar contamination may have been the cause for scores of students falling ill after eating at a girls’ hostel of Bagerhat Government PC College, civil surgeon Subhash Kumar Saha said on Sunday.

Saha was making an inspection of the hostel’s kitchen after 63 students, who had taken lunch there on Saturday, underwent treatment for food poisoning at Bagerhat Sadar Hospital.

Of them, 31 were admitted in critical condition, said doctors, but all were treated and out of danger.

Students accused of urinating in drinks

Police said three high school students in Hartford, Wis., should face felony juvenile charges for tricking others into drinking beverages containing urine.

Hartford Union Coach Ben Hoffmann informed authorities of an incident Nov. 28 in which a 16-year-old student tricked a basketball teammate into consuming a drink containing urine.

In a similar incident last month, two other male students put urine into soda and later sent out e-mail messages detailing who drank the contaminated beverages.

Dude, wash your hands – researchers required

Handwashing compliance has been identified as a significant factor in reducing foodborne, hospital-acquired and other infectious disease. People say they wash their hands, but often don’t. Our goal is to develop evidence-based, culturally-sensitive messages using a variety of media to compel individuals to practice good handwashing in numerous settings, and to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of different approaches.

That’s a bunch of projects – and we’re looking for a bunch of people with diverse skills. Whatever your background, from microbiology to psychology, as long as you have excellent communication skills and can work both independently and collaboratively, we’re interested in chatting with you. Undergraduate or graduate students, if you’re interested – passionate – about compelling individuals to wash their hands and enhance public health, please contact Dr. Kate Stenske at, or Dr. Doug Powell at

Don’t eat poop – wash your hands.