Texas man ‘skinned like a deer’ by Vibrio that killed him slowly over two weeks after fishing trip

Mia De Graaf of the Daily Mail writes a 78-year-old Texas man died after an agonizing two-week battling against flesh-eating bacteria he contracted on a fishing trip last month.

Jerry Sebek, of San Marcos, did not get in the water, did not have any open wounds, and did not have any health issues that would weaken his immune system.

And yet, hours after returning from Turtle Bay on June 13, he became delirious, vomiting, and struggling to breathe.

His daughter Kim took him to a clinic, where doctors said it looked like heat stroke.

But the next morning, he was taken to hospital, where he tested positive for vibrio, an aggressive type of bacteria that eats away at muscle and tissue.

His right arm, where the infection started, was ‘skinned like a deer,’ Kim told SanAntonio.com.

Despite amputating his arm and leg, and putting him in a medically-induced coma, doctors could not defeat the infection.

‘I’m still a little shocked and in disbelief,’ Kim told the site. 

‘Dad was a wonderful family man who loved to hunt and fish and do things out in the water.’

She added: ‘We’ve been coming here [to Turtle Bay] for years and this is just an unfortunate thing that happened.’

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.

sick: Donated catered meal cause of a foodborne outbreak of Staphylococcus aureus at a hospital in Houston after Hurricane Harveyd

Lucila Marquez of Healio reports that 50 staff members — but no patients — suffered acute gastrointestinal symptoms after eating a meal that included pork sausage, pulled pork, brisket, chicken and yogurt, at Texas Children’s Hospital, and colleagues.

Experts warned that flooding caused by Harvey could put storm victims at a higher risk for infection, but Marquez and colleagues said exposure to flood water was not associated with illness in the patients involved in the outbreak. They noted that S. aureus is one of 31 known causes of foodborne illness and outbreaks.

According to their report, on Sept. 1, 2017, a catered meal was donated and served to staff of the unnamed hospital. After infection control staff were notified of several cases of gastrointestinal illness among staff who ate the meal, the Harris County Department of Health was notified about the suspected outbreak, leftover food was secured and samples were taken from the pork sausage, pulled pork, brisket and chicken for testing.

Staff at hospital in Houston were sickened in an outbreak of Staphylococcus aureus linked to a donated catered meal.

Of the 191 staff who were working when the catered meal was delivered, 48% (n = 92) reported eating some of the meal, according to Marquez and colleagues. Within 14 hours, 54% (n = 50) of those who consumed the meal reported acute onset of gastrointestinal symptoms. All recovered within 24 hours.

Leftovers were tested for S. aureus, shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli, and Bacillus cereus —pathogens with a short incubation period, Marquez and colleagues noted. Brisket and chicken tested negative for any pathogen, but portions of pulled pork and pork sausage tested positive for S. aureus. Based on a questionnaire completed by staff members, Marquez and colleagues calculated a 1.47 relative risk for illness from eating pork sausage (95% CI, 1.06-2.04) and a 1.45 relative risk for illness from eating yogurt (95% CI, 1.05-2.01), although no yogurt samples were available for testing.

They said the disruption in public health services in the wake of the storm prevented the health department from immediately investigating the catering business that delivered the meal.

Yes E. coli is natural: Texas Natural Meats recalls frozen raw ground beef products for E. coli O103

Texas Natural Meats, a Lott, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 489 pounds of frozen raw, ground beef products that may be contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O103, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The frozen raw, ground beef items were produced on Aug. 8, 2017.  The following products are subject to recall:  [View Label (PDF only)]
1.00-lb. bags of “Green Field Farms Rogers Texas Ground Beef.”  The bags display the “PRODUCTION DATE 08.08.2017” and also display the “EXPIRATION DATE 08.08.2020.”  The bags are labeled “COOK USE ONLY” with the instruction “DO NOT refreeze after defrosting.”  
The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 34449” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to a retailer who sold the product at a farmer’s market in Roger, Texas.
The problem was discovered on June 19, 2018 by FSIS during routine inspection activities. The product was tested by the establishment and found to be positive for STEC O103 under their sampling program. …

The only way to confirm that ground beef is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, http://1.usa.gov/1cDxcDQ.

Caddyshack was righteous: 17 people sickened at NCAA women’s golf tournament

I’ve seen a lot of people barf on a golf course, whether during my early morning caddying rounds at the local private club 45-years-ago (Caddyshack is one of the most historically accurate films ever made) to annual golfing trips to Virginia 15-20-years-ago.

It was almost always from over-indulgence the night before.

According to Austin Public Health, 17 people became ill from a virus during the NCAA Women’s Golf Tournament in Austin, Texas.

The cause is yet to be determined, but the illness could be foodborne based on the symptoms.

While the investigation continues, the number of people reported sick could increase. The cause of the illness will be difficult to determine as the people ate at different locations.

Hipsters beware: Rare tickborne disease found in Austin-area caves

This has nothing to do with food, but is so cool because of the bugs involved – and that they prey on Austin, Texas, hipsters who sleep in caves.

A rare tickborne disease commonly associated with sleeping in rustic mountain cabins has shown up in caves around Austin, Texas, potentially placing cave workers and the public at risk for infection.

According to researchers, three people working in caves in the Austin area were diagnosed with tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF) last year, and two more tested positive for antibodies against the Borrelia bacteria that cause the disease.

The infections were identified by Austin Public Health (APH) and occurred mostly in people who had given guided cave tours, according to Stephanie B. Campbell, DVM, MPH, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, and colleagues.

Campbell summarized an investigation into the infections during a presentation at the annual EIS conference in Atlanta. She told Infectious Disease News that TBRF has been documented before in Texas caves, though it is unclear whether it has ever been reported in Austin-area caves.

The disease is rare, generally occurring in people who are bitten during the night by Ornithodoros ticks while sleeping in rodent-infested cabins or other rustic buildings where rodents have built nests, according to the CDC. The soft-bodied ticks — different from hard-body ticks like the ones that cause Lyme disease — live among rodents, feeding on them as they sleep. Tick and animal species were not collected as part of the investigation, so the report by Campbell and colleagues did not include which ticks may have been involved and what animals they were feeding on. But Campbell said O. parkeri ticks are found in Texas.

Campbell SB, et al. Evaluating the risk of tickborne relapsing fever among occupational cavers — Austin, TX, 2017. Presented at: Epidemic Intelligence Service conference; April 16-19, 2018; Atlanta.

Disease outbreak at Texas cat café leads to kitty quarantine, investigation

I was walking Ted the Wonder Dog the other morning — which I try to do every day but often fail because I’m human, dammit, and Ted would rather sleep beside me all day, and then party at 2 a.m. — and we passed the new cat café in Annerley, Brisbane.

I never had indoor cats until the townhouse rules in Brisbane forced us so. Same with the tiny dog. Now we have our own inner city million-dollar property (in Monopoly money) the cats go in and out, and the dog won’t shut-up.

Cuteness overload was supposed to be the number one item on the menu at San Antonio’s first cat cafe, but now the owner is facing an investigation from local authorities.

City of San Antonio Animal Care Services seized two cats last week and ordered the remaining 54 cats in the 1,000-square-foot San Antonio Cat Cafe to be quarantined from the public on Monday, according to WOAI.

“You are not going to get the sick cats better in that environment and unfortunately you are likely to spread those ailments to the other animals that are currently healthy,” Shannon Sims, the assistant director of Animal Care Services, told the station.

The ailments that he’s talking about allegedly include ringworm and FIP, a viral disease that tends to attack the cells of the intestinal wall and is usually fatal in domestic cats, according to WebMD. Animal Care Services spokeswoman Lisa Norwood told KENS that the investigation thus far had revealed that up to three dozen cats that did not have rabies shots and that sick cats were often mixed with healthy cats.

Leah Taylor, a former cafe employee, who is studying to become a veterinary technician, told KENS she filed a complaint against owner Casey Steuart with Animal Care Services after witnessing four cats die there during her four months on the job.

“A lot of the cat care wasn’t maintained,” Taylor told KENS. “There were animals that should have been on medicine. There were animals that needed to see a vet for medical attention that weren’t tended to. There was a lot of ringworm and upper respiratory, which is very contagious not only to people but also to other animals.”

Cas Moskwa, another former Cat Cafe employee, posted a series of photos on Facebook Sunday, detailing what she called “the reality of the cafe and the poor state it currently is in.” She claimed that Steuart waited for weeks at a time before taking sick cats there to a veterinarian and left at least one sick and dying cat, named Decoy, out in the public lounge during his last agonizing days.

Her post includes photos of cats with crusted eyes and allegations that Steuart brought in a cat infected with ringworm into the facility’s kitten coop, resulting in three different litters becoming infected. She said in a separate post that a cat she took home from the cafe was one of them that had been infected.

According to KSAT, though, Steuart disputes the reports from Moskwa and other former employees, blaming “a lack of communication and misinterpretations.” She specifically disputed the reports of ringworm, a skin infection that can be transmitted to humans, in the cafe.

She also told the San Antonio Express News that three cats did die at the cafe, but none from neglect. One, she said, was 17 years old.

Raw is risky: Brucellosis from unpasteurized milk in Texas

In July 2017, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Region 2/3 office reported a human case of brucellosis associated with the consumption of raw (unpasteurized) cow’s milk purchased from a dairy in Paradise, Texas. CDC’s Bacterial Special Pathogens Branch (BSPB) confirmed the isolate as Brucella abortus vaccine strain RB51 (RB51).

Brucellosis is a zoonotic bacterial disease that affects humans and many animal species. In humans, the disease is characterized by fever and nonspecific influenza-like symptoms that frequently include myalgia, arthralgia, and night sweats. Without appropriate treatment, brucellosis can become chronic, and life-threatening complications can arise. Human brucellosis transmitted by cattle was once common in the United States. Control strategies have focused on elimination of brucellosis through vaccination and surveillance of cattle herds, in addition to milk pasteurization. Because of these measures, domestically acquired human cases are now rare (1).

RB51, a live-attenuated vaccine used to prevent B. abortus infection in cattle, has been documented to cause human disease, most commonly through occupational exposures such as needle sticks (2). Importantly, unlike wild strains of B. abortus, RB51 does not stimulate an antibody response detectable by routine serological assays, requiring culture for confirmation. Additionally, RB51 is resistant to rifampin, a common treatment choice for human brucellosis (2,3). This case represents the first documented instance of human brucellosis caused by RB51 through consumption of raw milk acquired in the United States.

Following isolation of RB51 from the patient’s blood, bulk milk tank samples from the farm tested positive for RB51 by polymerase chain reaction and bacterial culture. Culture of individual milk samples from all 43 cows in the herd identified two RB51 culture-positive cows. Subsequent whole genome sequencing indicated genetic relatedness between the cow and human isolate.

In Texas, farm sales of raw milk products to the public are legal with a “Grade ‘A’ Raw for Retail” license, regulated by the DSHS Milk and Dairy Group. By the end of August, through correspondence with the dairy, DSHS had identified approximately 800 persons who might have visited the farm during June 1–August 7. On September 1, Texas DSHS and BSPB began notification calls to these households, recommending that all exposed persons (i.e., those who consumed raw milk products from the farm during June 1–August 7) seek medical attention and begin 3 weeks of postexposure prophylaxis, even if asymptomatic (4).

Contact information was available for 582 households. The notification was issued successfully to 397 (68.2%) households. Among these notified households, 324 (81.6%) identified at least one exposed household member. Contacted persons referred 34 additional potentially exposed households, including households from seven other states.* A nationwide press release and Health Alert Network Health Advisory were issued in September to facilitate further identification of exposed persons (5).

To date, there are no other confirmed cases associated with this investigation. CDC and Texas DSHS continue measures to increase awareness among health care providers and the public regarding unique challenges associated with treatment and diagnosis of RB51 in humans and the risks of consuming raw milk.

Notes from the Field: Brucella abortus vaccine strain RB51 infection and exposures associated with raw milk consumption

09.mar.18

CDC

Caitlin Cossaboom

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6709a4.htm?s_cid=mm6709a4_w

Tex-Mex theft: $1.2M in stolen fajitas prompts employee’s arrest at Texas juvie center

This ranks up there with the great maple syrup theft in Canada a couple of years ago.

Josh Hafner of USA Today reports a Texas juvenile center employee confessed to stealing shipments of fajitas over nine years, a district attorney said, a theft totaling $1.2 million.

The Tex-Mex mystery unfolded on Aug. 7 when an 800-pound delivery of fajitas arrived at the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department in San Benito, The Brownsville Herald reported, about 10 miles north of the Mexico border.

There was only one problem, a kitchen staffer told the delivery driver: The department didn’t serve fajitas. That’s when the driver said he had been delivering fajitas to the center for nearly a decade, District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said.

“If it wasn’t so serious, you’d think it was a Saturday Night Live skit,” Saenz told the Herald. “But this is the real thing.”

The kitchen staffer told her supervisor about the call, and the missing piece fell into place: Gilberto Escamilla, a department employee, had taken that day off. When confronted at work the next day, he confessed to stealing fajitas for the past nine years, Saenz told the newspaper.

Officers later searching his home found fajitas in the refrigerator. Escamilla made bail following his firing and arrest, but a trail of invoices and vouchers led investigators to the shockingly spicy conclusion: Escamilla’s fajitas fraud totaled $1,251,578, per the Herald.

“He would literally, on the day he ordered them, deliver them to customers he had already lined up,” Saenz said.

Texas Environmental Health Association and Austin

There are exactly five cities I could live in. Portland, Madison, Toronto, Raleigh.

And Austin.

I grew up in one of these, and currently live in another.

The only problem with Austin is a lack of hockey. 

Today I gave a talk to the Texas Environmental Health Association about a bunch of food safety stuff. Got to catch up with old friends and tell folks about some of the fun things we’re working on.

Also got to eat some brisket, listen to good music and drink some Texas beer.

Good times.