Strawberry fields forever: At least 20 sickened with hepatitis A linked to frozen berries from Poland

Hepatitis A virus is an important cause of food-borne diseases and has been associated with several European outbreaks linked to berries [14]. Here, we describe an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in Sweden and Austria and the confirmation of frozen strawberries imported from Poland as the source of infection. The aims are to highlight the importance of sequencing in outbreak investigations and, due to the long shelf-life of the food vehicle, to increase awareness and warnings towards HAV infections related to frozen strawberries in Europe.

According to a report by the scientific journal Eurosurveillance, 20 cases of hepatitis A were reported in six districts of Sweden between June and September 2018, of which 17 were confirmed and three were likely. “In combined epidemiological and microbiological studies, imported frozen strawberries produced in Poland were identified as the source of the outbreak,” the journal said. Also in Austria hepatitis A diseases have been associated with strawberries from the same manufacturer.
Swedish and Austrian researchers have identified strawberries as a source of infection for many hepatitis A diseases in their countries. “Examinations and interviews with kitchen staff showed that the strawberries had never been sufficiently heated before serving. Strawberries were the only food that was common to all cases, “says the Swedish experts.

The best protection against hepatitis A is vaccination, which is available for children 12 months and older.

Hepatitis A outbreak linked to imported frozen strawberries by sequencing, Sweden and Austria, June to September 2018

Eurosurveillance 2018;23(41)

Theresa Enkirch1,2Ronnie Eriksson3Sofia Persson3Daniela Schmid4Stephan W. Aberle5,Emma Löf1,6Bengt Wittesjö7Birgitta Holmgren8Charlotte Johnzon9Eva X. Gustafsson8,Lena M. Svensson10Lisa Labbé Sandelin11Lukas Richter4Mats Lindblad3Mia Brytting1,Sabine Maritschnik4Tatjana Tallo1Therese Malm12Lena Sundqvist1Josefine Lundberg Ederth1

 https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.41.1800528

https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.41.1800528

The barf museum in Sweden

Maura Judkis of The Washington Post writes buy a ticket to the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmo, Sweden, and it won’t be printed on a slip of paper.

“Your ticket is a vomit bag with our logo,” said Samuel West, the museum’s founder. It’s a joke, but not really: Somewhere between the exhibit on the world’s stinkiest cheese and the free samples of fermented shark meat, someone’s stomach may turn. But, then again, the noni, an Asian fruit nicknamed the “vomit fruit,” is one of the displays. So visitors will already be acclimated to some pretty terrible smells.

Welcome to the world’s first exhibition devoted to foods that some would call revolting. The museum’s name and its contents are pretty controversial — one culture’s disgusting is another culture’s delicacy. That goes for escamoles, the tree-ant larvae eaten in Mexico, or shirako, the cod sperm eaten in Japan, or bird’s nest soup, a Chinese dish of nests made from bird saliva. The name is meant to grab visitors’ attention, but that’s the point that West says he’s trying to make: Disgust is a cultural construct.

“I want people to question what they find disgusting and realize that disgust is always in the eye of the beholder,” said West. “We usually find things we’re not familiar with disgusting, versus things that we grow up with and are familiar with are not disgusting, regardless of what it is.”

For example: Though the museum is in Sweden, he includes surströmming, an incredibly pungent fermented Swedish herring, and salt licorice, which is found throughout the Nordic nations.

100 sick in Sweden from E. coli

Since early July, the number of cases of ehec infection has increased in Sweden. Analyzes show that the majority are of the same type and cases have been reported from several counties, mainly Uppsala and Västra Götaland. According to the investigation, it is a national ehec outbreak that has one or more common sources of infection.

So far, the ehec infection of some fifty people who fell in July could have been linked by molecular biologic analyzes of the genetic engineering of the bacteria. Another fifty-one people were also suspected of being affected. Among the infected are both children and adults.

Since the current type of ehec, O157: H7, has spread to different parts of the country, it is probably about a foodborne infection. Locally, the infection can also be spread from person to person via bathing water.

– This appears to be one of the biggest outbreaks of ehec we have had in Sweden. The germ strain spread may cause serious disease, especially in children. Together with the affected infected units and municipalities, the Swedish Food Administration and the State Veterinary Office, we are working to investigate the outbreak and, above all, try to identify the source of infection and prevent further spread of infection, “says microbiologist Cecilia Jernberg.

50 sick: Sweden investigating two salmonella outbreaks with source unknown

Joe Whitworth of Food Navigator reports Sweden is investigating two Salmonella outbreaks that have infected almost 50 people.

Authorities said they suspect both are foodborne but do not yet know the source.

Since the beginning of May, 13 cases of an unusual Salmonella type (S. Typhimurium MLVA 2-17-N-N-211) have been identified by Folkhälsomyndigheten’s (Public Health Agency’s) microbial monitoring program.

4 dead: Mashed potato machine thought to be source of Listeria contamination in Sweden

The Local reports there have been four deaths in Västra Götaland, in western Sweden, that experts have linked to listeria bacteria. 

Experts at the Centre for Communicable Disease Control (Smittskydd) stressed that all those who passed away were elderly people or affected by other illnesses. 

In other words, they said it was impossible to confirm that listeriosis, the disease caused by listeria bacteria, was responsible for the deaths. 

But the group behind the meals and the local region are not taking any chances, issuing a recall for potentially contaminated products across the region. 

The group behind the products, Food Company, released a statement with information about the items that were affected and their expiration dates. 

The items have an expiration date between May 16th and 25th.

All items – single portion, pre-cooked and chilled packet meals – contained mashed potatoes, with the company explaining that the machine that made the mash was responsible for the bacteria outbreak. 

It added that the machine has since been removed from the production factory.

Salmonella skyrockets in Swedish cats

In just two months, salmonella infection has been detected in 1,007 cats in Sweden. Never before have so many cases been discovered even for a whole year.

It is the Danish Veterinary Office, SVA, which reports the compilation of the number of infected cats. The Salmonella Mite is suspected to come from birds and the cats are infected at the birdboards.

Frecrik Israelsson of SVT reports this year differs from previous years in two ways; partly because the observed cases are so many, partly because the proportion of salmonella positive samples is so high among the suspected samples we get. Now, however, the culmination seems to be reached for this contagion season, “said Elina Lahti, epidemiologist SVA, according to SVA’s website.

Even humans and other animals can be infected with salmonella and SVA encourages those who have had contact with sick cats and birds to wash their hands. Even when handling bird tables and litter boxes, hand washing is important, according to SVA.

4 in family sick from suspected botulism in Sweden

From Pro-Med:

A total of 4 people in a family in Gothenburg suffered from botulism. For this reason,
Eldsberga chark recalls its product “Suha Bosan Point”, Smoked beef
from Bosnia in Sweden.

The meat, totalling more than 40 kg [approx. 88 lb] – with Holland as
its country of origin, – has been sold in bulk at, among other places,
the Orient House between that [7 and 20 Nov 2017]. The meat has also
been found in sandwiches sold by a baguette cafe.

Sime Trosic is the CEO of Eldsberga chark. “It’s hell that someone may
have suffered badly because of our products. I have children myself
and can hardly describe how it would feel if they floated between life
and death, ” he said.

The revocation is made “for cautionary reasons” and according to the
National Food Administration, it has not yet been established that
botulism that the 4 family members suffered from was from the beef.

The Authority continues to investigate the source of infection
together with Goteborg’s Environmental Management and Eldsberga
Chark.

“According to the Swedish Food and Drug Administration, we can work as
usual, they found no mistakes in our routines”, says Sime Trosic. He
urges customers who bought “Suha Bosan Point” during the current
period of time to return it at the place of purchase.

The 4 affected family members have been discharged from the hospital
and are improving. “I’m glad they’re on the improvement path, that’s
most important”, says Sime Trosic.

No further cases of botulism have been found.

50+sick: Norovirus in Sweden water

(Something may be lost in translation)

Thanks to our Swedish correspondent who forwarded the stories about a norovirus outbreak in Saxdalen linked to drinking water.

Anders Lindblom, Disease Prevention Officer in Dalarna, said, “Probably the cause of the stomach disorder in the Saxdalen winter calf virus (calicivirus). The virus that causes winter rheumatoid arthritis is highly contagious and spreads apart from water and food, even from person to person.”

It’s norovirus. But different countries call it different things.

Our correspondent adds, “In Saxdalen in middle Sweden, the drinking water is contaminated with norovirus. The contamination source is probably poorly maintained sewage pipe system. So far is at least 50 people (10% of the population) infected.”

Media reports note, “The stool sample we received indicates that it is calicivirus and unfortunately it will take some time to get the water approved,” says Göran Eriksson, environmental manager in Ludvika municipality.

“He tells us that the cause of the pollution is probably that a drainage pipe in very bad condition polluted the soil at a place where a drinking water pipeline had previously broken.

“Ludvika municipality still recommends people living in Saxdalen to boil the water you plan to drink and cook with.”

Sensible Swedes: Court rules coop grocery chain ‘misled’ consumers by claiming organic food safer, healthier

Kavin Senapathy of the Genetic Literacy Project writes the makers of the viral 2015 “Organic Effect” video, which claimed that switching to an all organic diet can eliminate pesticides from the body, are no longer allowed to promote the video or its claims, ruled the Swedish Patent and Market Court on July 3rd following three days of hearings in mid-May.

The Coop chain of Swedish grocery stores must not use the video or make unsubstantiated claims about organic and conventional food or pay a fine of one million Swedish Krona (about $120,000 USD). The Swedish Crop Protection Association (“Svenskt Växtskydd”), a trade association of nine Swedish crop protection companies, filed the lawsuit [in 2016], citing misleading and inaccurate advertisement.

The “Organic Effect” video … totally [omits] the crucial fact that organic farming does use pesticides, albeit different than the ones used in conventional agriculture. Even though the pesticides used in organic farming tend to be naturally derived, whether a substance is synthetic or natural in origin, in and of itself, has no bearing on its toxicity or environmental impact.

Further, as Switzerland-based biologist Iida Ruishalme pointed out at her Thoughtscapism blog, the video left out information that conflicted with the video’s shaky pro-organic assertions.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis.

See the crap below.

Seek and ye shall find: Sapovirus sickens 650 in Sweden, 2016

A foodborne outbreak of gastroenteritis with more than 650 suspected cases occurred in April 2016 in Sollentuna, Sweden. It originated in a school kitchen serving a total of 2,700 meals daily.

Initial microbiological testing (for Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Entamoeba histolytica, adeno-, astro-, noro-, rota- and sapovirus) of stool samples from 15 symptomatic cases was negative, despite a clinical presentation suggestive of calicivirus.

Analyses of the findings from both the Sollentuna municipality environmental team and a web-based questionnaire suggested that the source of the outbreak was the salad buffet served on 20 April, although no specific food item could be identified.

Subsequent electron microscopic examination of stool samples followed by whole genome sequencing revealed a variant of sapovirus genogroup V. The virus was not detected using standard PCR screening. This paper describes the epidemiological outbreak investigation and findings leading to the discovery.

Investigation of a foodborne outbreak of gastroenteritis in a school canteen revealed a variant of sapovirus  genogroup V not detected by standard PCR, sollentuna, Sweden, 2016

Eurosurveillance, vol 22, issue 22, 01 June 2017, M Hergens, J Nederby Öhd, E Alm , HH Askling, S Helgesson, M Insulander, N Lagerqvist, B Svenungsson, M Tihane, T Tolfvenstam, P Follin,

http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.22.30543

http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=22808