Dozens of Swiss soldiers hit by vomiting bug, 4 in critical condition

The Straits Times reports more than 40 military staff and recruits at an academy in central Switzerland were taken to hospital on Thursday (July 4) after they suddenly fell violently ill, the government said.

In a statement, the Swiss defence department said that on Thursday afternoon, 43 recruits and members of the Jassbach academy in Linden, in Bern Canton, suddenly suffered from acute gastrointestinal problems, with diarrhoea and vomiting.

Rubber ducky you’re the one, who makes bacterial interactions so much fun

It’s a gotcha story, lots of bugs, nothing that would really make anyone sick, but familiarity with a child and a bathtub (or an adult).

Ceylan Yeginsu of The New York Times reports there’s an ugly truth about the rubber duck, the popular bathroom toy that children put in their mouths and use to squeeze bath water into their siblings’ faces.

Something yucky is likely to be inside, scientists say: “potentially pathogenic bacteria” that can cause eye, ear and stomach infections.

A study by American and Swiss researchers found that toy ducks appeared to be a breeding ground for microbes. The murky water released from four out of every five ducks tested included Legionella along with Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, often associated with infections acquired in hospitals, the authors of the study said.

So don’t play with a rubber duck in a hospital.

The study, conducted by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, ETH Zurich and the University of Illinois, was published on Tuesday in the journal N.P.J. Biofilms and Microbiomes.

The researchers tested a range of bath toys, 19 different ones, and found 75 million cells of bacteria per square centimeter in the ducks — a strikingly high level that scientists say was a result of their polymer material releasing carbon, which acts as a nutrient for bacteria.

 “In addition to the nutrient supply, dirty bath water also serves as a further source of microbial seeding for the bath toys,” the researchers noted.

They suggested that using a higher-quality polymer to make the rubber ducks might prevent bacterial and fungal growth.

The study, which received funding from the Swiss government, is part of broader research into bacteria on household objects.

One goes up, one goes down: Swiss surveillance

Clinical isolates of Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp. are notifiable in Switzerland. In 1995, Campylobacter replaced Salmonella as the most frequently reported foodborne pathogen. We analysed notification data (1988–2013) for these two bacterial, gastrointestinal pathogens of public health importance in Switzerland.

campylobacterNotification rates were calculated using data for the average resident population. Between 1988 and 2013, notified campylobacteriosis cases doubled from 3,127 to 7,499, while Salmonella case notifications decreased, from 4,291 to 1,267. Case notifications for both pathogens peaked during summer months. Campylobacter infections showed a distinct winter peak, particularly in the 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14 winter seasons. Campylobacter case notifications showed more frequent infection in males than females in all but 20–24 year-olds. Among reported cases, patients’ average age increased for campylobacteriosis but not for salmonellosis.

The inverse trends observed in case notifications for the two pathogens indicate an increase in campylobacteriosis cases. It appears unlikely that changes in patients’ health-seeking or physicians’ testing behaviour would affect Campylobacter and Salmonella case notifications differently. The implementation of legal microbiological criteria for foodstuff was likely an effective means of controlling human salmonellosis. Such criteria should be decreed for Campylobacter, creating incentives for producers to lower Campylobacter prevalence in poultry.

Inverse trends of Campylobacter and Salmonella in Swiss surveillance data, 1988–2013

Eurosurveillance, Volume 21, Issue 6, 11 February 2016

C Schmutz, D Mäusezahl, M Jost, A Baumgartner, M Mäusezahl-Feuz

Tastes like chicken: Insects set to appear on Swiss plates

Crickets, locusts and mealworms could be on Swiss menus and supermarket shelves next year, after being given the green light by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office.

insects.foodHowever, the range of insects on offer is currently limited to these three species because of protein allergies and production conditions.

A consultation period on commercializing the consumption of insects runs until October.

At present, a permit is required to serve up insects, as has already been done at museum nights or at a buffet in parliament last year where politicians were served mealworm hamburgers, cricket rissoles and grasshopper mousse. Feedback was by and large positive.

The authorization of insects as food is part of a comprehensive revision of the Swiss food law.

On Monday the Food Safety and Veterinary Office announced a paradigm shift: all food should be allowed which is safe and corresponds to the law.

Until now it was the other way around: all food that was not explicitly mentioned in the law needed a permit. For example, a milk fat product that doesn’t contain enough milk to be turned into butter will in future no longer need a permit – although it still won’t be able to be sold as butter.