Australian hepatitis A outbreak still linked to semi-dried tomatoes

Hepatitis A is one of the few causes of foodborne illness that only cycles through humans – and their poop.

So any outbreak of hepatitis A means human sewage came into contact with the food (which then wasn’t cooked) or someone shedding the virus had a poop, failed to adequately wash their hands, and then prepared an uncooked food.

Either could be happening in this on-going outbreak of hepatitis A in Australia that has sickened about 130 people and appears to be linked to semi-dry tomatoes.

Victorian health authorities revealed a further 23 cases of the infectious disease diagnosed in the past week.

Victoria’s chief health officer Dr John Carnie said that so far this year there had been 200 notifications of hepatitis A, compared to 74 at the same time last year.

A study into the increase of cases indicates that more than two thirds of people that have become ill recalled eating semi-dried tomatoes, he said.

Local producers had promised the Department of Human Services they were doing their best to reduce the risk, while importers of the tomatoes had also been instructed to ensure appropriate quality control measures were in place, he said.

Bottled semi-dried tomatoes in supermarkets were pasteurised and considered safe along with any of the cooked product such as in pizzas or quiches.

The greatest risk would appear to be at restaurants and cafes, where semi-dried tomatoes are served in foods such as salads and sandwiches.

Don’t eat poop. Or at least cook it.

Clean the poop off hands before making semi-dried tomatoes — linked to spike in Australian hepatitis A cases

The Age, which is the primary newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, in the state of Victoria, reports that semi-dried tomatoes have been linked to several cases of hepatitis A.

Victoria’s chief health officer John Carnie issued a warning on Friday evening (Friday morning here since they’re about 14 hours ahead) advising people to avoid eating semi-dried tomatoes unless they are thoroughly cooked.

"People who may have semi-dried tomatoes at home should not eat them unless they are thoroughly cooked, such as in pizza and quiche. Restaurants and cafes should also follow this advice.”

The Department of Health and Human Services has received 12 hepatitis A notifications this week and several people infected have reported eating semi-dried tomatoes.

Vomit forces teenage tennis star out of Australian Open

I always have something on the television as background while working on my laptop.  And at this time of year, the Australian Open brings a reminder of the warmth that may some day return to the Northern Hemisphere.

When the announcer said, “This is painful to watch,” I immediately looked at the television. There was teenage tennis sensation Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, wobbling, though leading in her match against Serena Williams.

Azarenka had been vomiting all morning, because of a virus, and she did not feel much better when she got to the court. … She ended up retiring through illness and shuffled off the Rod Laver Arena with an assistant supporting her on either arm (right, photo by EPA). …

At one stage, it seemed as though she was going to be sick into her cupped hands, and she repeatedly sought out the shaded areas in the stadium between points. She also looked off-balance and almost unable to grip the handle of her racket. She had little choice but to quit against the American.

No word on the type or source of what was thought to be a viral infection.