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Study reveals a way disease bacteria sense antimicrobials and initiate a counter-defense

Source of Article:

Many living things, from fruit flies to people, naturally produce disease-fighting chemicals, called antimicrobial peptides, to kill harmful bacteria. In a counter move, some disease-causing bacteria have evolved microbial detectors. The bacteria sense the presence of antimicrobial peptides as a warning signal. The alarm sets off a reaction inside the bacteria to avoid destruction.University of Washington (UW) and McGill researchers have revealed a molecular mechanism whereby bacteria can recognize tiny antimicrobial peptide molecules, then respond by becoming more virulent. Their studies were done on the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium. The findings were published in the Aug. 12 edition of the journal Cell.Salmonella typhimurium can contaminate meats such as beef, pork, and chicken, as well as cereals and other foods, and cause severe intestinal illness. Certain strains of the bacteria are difficult to treat, and are behind the increase of salmonellosis in people. Some food science institutes anticipate that virulent strains of salmonella will become more common throughout the food chain. Learning how this sometimes deadly organism fights back against the immune system may lead to treatments that get around bacterial resistance.Work in this area may also suggest ways other disease-causing Gram-negative bacteria maintain a stronghold in the midst of the body's attempts to get rid of them.Strangely enough, the same molecules that the body sends out to help destroy salmonella inadvertently launch bacterial defenses. It is as if missles armed, rather than demolished, the target. The body's antimicrobial peptides bind to an enzyme, PhoQ, which acts as a watchtower and interceptor near the surface of bacterial cell membranes. The peptide binding activates PhoQ, which sets off a cascade of signals. The signals turn on a large set of bacterial genes. Some of the genes are responsible for products that fortify the bacterial cell surface and protect the bacteria from being killed.The research was done in the UW laboratory of Dr. Samuel Miller, professor of microbiology and of medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. The MIller Lab explores the molecular aspects of bacteria-induced illness, and how disease-causing bacteria interact with cells in the host they have infected, and adapt to environments inside the body, such as the airway.The lead author of the Aug.12 Cell article was Dr. Martin Bader, a UW senior fellow in microbiology and genome sciences.

The research team, under the direction of Miller, included Dr. Sarah Sanowar of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University; Dr. Margaret Daley, a UW senior fellow in biochemistry; Anna SChneider, a UW undergraduate majoring in mathematics and biochemistry; Uhn Soo Cho, a graduate studenty in biological structure; Dr. Wenqing Xu, assistant professor of biological structure; Dr. Rachel Klevit, professor of biochemistry; and Dr. Herve Le Moual on the McGill Faculty of Dentistry.

Grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded the study.

Shigellosis, retreat center - USA (OR)
August 13, 2005
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
Sponsored in part by Elsevier, publisher of
Infectious Disease products
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005
From: ProMED-mail Source: [edited]
Nearly 300 people sick from outbreak of shigellosis
Nearly 300 people have gotten sick in rural Douglas County after an outbreak of shigellosis, an illness that bears flu-like symptoms.
Community Health Services Director Dawnelle Marshall says at least 280 people attending a spiritual retreat center near the tiny community of Umpqua reported becoming ill. 9 people were hospitalized, and 18 of the cases have been confirmed as being caused by the bacterium.
Marshall says most of the cases have been treated with antibiotics with good results. The exact source of the outbreak is under investigation.
Shigellosis is a bacterial infection acquired by consuming food or water that is contaminated with human feces, or from direct exposure to human waste.
[This posting is separate from the weekly Cholera, Diarrhea & Dysentery posting because of the size of the cluster. There have been intentional contaminations of food with Shigella sp. in the past. ProMED awaits further information about this outbreak. - Mod.LL]

Jacksboro, Campbell County (WVLT) - Health department officials say the total number of Hepatitis-A cases in East Tennessee stemming from the outbreak in Campbell County is now up to 23.

Three new Hepatitis-A cases confirmed; total now 23

The three new cases are all in adults. They say they know for sure that two of the new cases have ties to the recent outbreak. People they have come in contact with the three are being given the immune globulin shots.

The health department says they have also have three more new cases pending, meaning they have symptoms that could match Hepatitis-A. They are currently being tested for the virus.

Two of those are in elementary school aged children. Health department officials want to remind people in the community that children ages 2 to 5 can still come into the clinic to get the free Hepatitis-A vaccine.

Food briefs: Tips help chefs with meat safety

Aug 17, 2005 : 12:19 am ET
Source of Article:
RALEIGH -- State health officials caution consumers about undercooking beef products like steaks and roasts. The precaution comes after two recent outbreaks of E coli in other states prompted federal officials to issue a notice to industry regarding beef products that have been injected with marinade or mechanically tenderized.The state's divisions of Public Health and Environmental Health recommend the following steps to prevent food-borne illness when cooking previously tenderized beef products
-- Cook all steaks, roasts, etc. to an internal temperature of 155 degrees as measured by a food thermometer.
-- Because grills provide uneven heat, use a meat thermometer to take the internal temperature in a couple of places, including in the thickest part.
-- Oven broiling steaks provides the most even heat.

For information, call the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 715-0246 or the Division of Environmental Health's Dairy and Food Protection Branch at 733-2905.

Control/Monitoring Systems facilitate HACCP compliance

Source of Article:

August 9, 2005 08:15 - With ability to record and control critical temperatures, XJ500¢ç and web-based XWEB¢ç Systems are suited for restaurants, institutional food service operations, convenience stores, supermarkets, and food process installations. Users can start with Smart Only package with alarms and grow to Internet-based control and supervisory system with ability to see temperatures, compressor, fan, and defrost run times. Alarms can be faxed or e-mailed to multiple locations.

Press Release
Do HACCP Automatically, not Hap Hazard with our XJ500¢ç and XWEB¢ç Systems

Food safety has never been more important in today¡¯s business climate. You can take the guesswork out of your HACCP program and eliminate human error with the Dixell Control and Monitoring Systems, from Weiss Instruments. Do HACCP Automatically, not Hap Hazard. Now you can record and control the critical temperatures in your operation to assure you are in compliance.

With our XJ500¢ç and XWEB¢ç Systems, you can be alerted to a small problem before it becomes a Big One. If you run a Restaurant, Institutional Food Service Operation, a Convenience Store, Small to Medium Supermarket, a Warehouse Operation or Food Process installation our Monitoring and Control Systems are simple to set up and operate.

Control and monitor reach-in refrigerators, Walk-ins, Freezers, Hot Food Cabinets, Ovens, even ware-washing and lighting control with our compact and economical LED controls. Eliminate mechanical thermostats, time clocks, thermometers and wiring with our iCool¢ç Wireless connections, saving installation costs.

As a modular system, you can start with a simple Smart Only package (with alarms) and grow to a full-blown Internet based Control and Supervisory System. You will see temperatures, compressor, fan, and defrost run times. Alarms can be faxed or e-mailed to multiple locations, on different days of the week. You can set up automatic printing of all your HACCP temperatures as often as you want.

All the power of the Internet to gain access to your operation from any PC, from anywhere. With our Web based Client / Server technology the XWEB¢ç is simple to set up and operate. The XWEB300/3000 is a powerful Web Server combined with the Dixell distributed control system, allows you to start small and grow with your needs. Record, Store, Print, Fax, e-Mail, Alarm, easily, economically and automatically. Dixell from Weiss Instruments . . . NAFEM booth #1030

Weiss Instruments, Inc., 905 Waverly Ave., Holtsville, New York 11742; 631-207-1200; Fax: 631.207.0900

Company Information:
Name: Weiss Instruments, Inc.
Address: 905 Waverly Ave.
City: Holtsville
State: NY
ZIP: 11742
Country: USA
Phone: 800-966-6983
FAX: 631-207-0900

Warnex Introduces Two New Tests for Campylobacter and 24 Hr Listeria
Warnex Inc.have launched two new tests for use with the Warnex¢â Rapid Pathogen Detection System. The first test detects Campylobacter jejuni, C. coli and C. lari in poultry rinses, and the second is a one-step 24-hour test for Listeria species in environmental samples. The distribution of these tests will begin in September.
Warnex¡¯s Campylobacter test detects the three species of this pathogen, which account for 99% of reported Campylobacter cases. This test can determine the presence of the pathogen within 48 hours. Warnex is also currently completing the development of a quantitative test that will determine the amount of Campylobacter present in a sample. The Company intends to start commercializing this test during the first quarter of 2006, making it the first quantitative PCR test on the food testing market.

Warnex¡¯s new 24-hour Listeria spp. test for environmental samples has three innovations:
1) it is a test for environmental swabs,
2) it has a single enrichment step, thus simplifying the procedure, and
3) it provides results within 24 hours instead of 48 hours.

source from

EPA proposes new wastewater bacteria tests (published on 19-Aug-2005)

Source of Article:

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed testing for the presence of four types of bacteria in wastewater and sewage sludge. It centres on culture-based approaches to detecting enterococci and E.coli in wastewater and salmonella and fecal coliform bacteria in sewage sludge. These bacteria are seen as "health indicators" pointing to possible contamination and the need for further investigation and treatment.

Until now, no EPA-approved tests were available to detect these bacteria in wastewater. The new tests will yield results within 24 hours and provide treatment facilities with an indication of the effectiveness of their treatment techniques. "These tools have proved reliable through extensive testing and verification. They will increase our confidence in test results that detect bacteria in waste water and sewage sludge," said EPA Assistant Administrator Ben Grumbles. "Once these procedures are in place, they will better protect the public, particularly children who are often more vulnerable to bacteria-caused illnesses in water."

HACCP undergoing review

Source of Article:

8/16/2005-The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is seeking comments on the financial impact of its Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations on small and very small plants.
All federal agencies are required, under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, to review existing regulations that have a significant impact on a substantial number of small businesses to determine whether the impact can be minimized.
Small plants are those which have between 10 and 499 employees and more than $2.5 million in annual sales. Very small plants have fewer than 10 employees and less than $2.5 million in annual sales.
The deadline for comments is October 11, 2005.

Deadly Bacteria Hits Capital Region
Source of Article:
(posted: August 16th, 8:00pm) A potentially fatal disease is making its mark on the Capital Region.
State health officials are tracking 5 cases of listeria, which is a food borne bacteria. The latest case was found in Montgomery County. One person in Syracuse died from the disease and the same strain is connected to case in Schenectady County. That case was not severe. Test results in Montgomery County are expected later this week.
Listeria starts out as food poisoning, but if it not treated can turn into meningitis or blood infections.
The most obvious was to prevent listeria is to make sure meats are thoroughly cooked including pre-cooked processed foods.
People in high risk groups, such as those who are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, should make sure any meat products that they eat are steaming hot. This includes hot dogs, cold cuts and shrimp. They should also avoid any type of soft cheeses unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasturized milk.
So far there has been no link to a common source, just links in the strains of the bacteria. Symptoms include dizziness, fever and muscle aches.

Another Idaho woman identified in Creutzfeldt-Jakob death
August 14, 2005 6:28 PM
The Associated Press
Source of Article:
TWIN FALLS, Idaho Authorities have released the name of the fifth woman in the region to die of a fatal brain-wasting illness since January.
Marjorie Skinner of Twin Falls died last Sunday after being diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
It's a rare and rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disease that robs victims of the ability to speak or control their movements.
Friends said Skinner, an avid bowler and golfer, placed fourth in a Memorial Day golf tournament.
Less than a month later, she could no longer talk.
All but one of the women diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob since January are from Twin Falls. The other is from neighboring Minidoka County.

None of the cases appeared to be the variant type of the fatal disease, which is usually linked to mad cow disease.

Still, samples of some of their brain material is being analyzed at a university in Ohio to try to find a link between the women _ and why it's showing up in southern Idaho.

Over 2000 cases so far in Salmonella Hadar outbreak in Spain associated with consumption of pre-cooked chicken, July-August, 2005
August 9, 2005
Eurosurveillance e-Alert
Annick Lenglet1 (, on behalf of the National Epidemiological Surveillance Network of Spain.
1European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET) and Field Epidemiology Training Programme Spain (PEAC), Centro Nacional de Epidemiologia, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid, Spain.
As of 8 August 2005, 2138 cases of salmonella gastroenteritis have been reported to the Centro Nacional de Epidemiologia (National Centre for Epidemiology, CNE) in Spain. The reported cases have been epidemiologically and microbiologically linked to a single brand of pre-cooked, vacuum-packed roast chicken (brand A) which was commercially distributed throughout Spain. On 28 July 2005, the Centro Nacional de Epidemiologia (National Centre for Epidemiology, CNE) received a report from the autonomous region of Valencia of the detection of eight household clusters of gastroenteritis involving a total of 25 cases, all with clinical presentation of salmonella infection. On the same day, two more autonomous regions reported similar outbreaks and Agencia Espanola de Seguridad Alimentaria (Spanish Food Safety Agency,
more information

Technique detects wide array of pathogens
8/9/2005 - Taking advantage of a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), scientists have developed a molecular-based method for checking food safety.

The technique distinguishes live bacterial cells from dead ones, allowing food safety checkers to identify a whole suite of pathogens in food.

Food contamination scares, regulatory measures and the cost of recalls have driven the demand for better pathogen testing equipment in the market.

Microbiologist Robert Levin and doctoral student Shishan Wang at the University of Massachusetts Amherst say the method could help food processors avoid the costs of having to make massive recalls of meat carrying such pathogens as E. coli.

The new method uses a variation of PCR techniques, which scientists use to make lots of copies of a small, specific stretch of DNA. PCR generates large quantities of DNA from tiny samples. It can be used to detect very small quantities of pathogens.

However PCR just copies the designated DNA. It doesn't indicate whether the DNA came from a cell that was dead or alive, information that food testers need when testing samples for organisms that make people sick.

Using PCR, the researchers developed a technique to test seafood for the DNA of Vibrio vulnificus, a disease-causing bacterium from the same family as those that cause cholera.

Levin and Wang treated their bacteria samples with ethidium bromide monoazide (EMA), a chemical that winds its way in between the strands and building blocks of a DNA molecule. EMA will insert itself only into the DNA of the damaged cell membranes of dead or dying bacterium.

After dosing the bacteria with EMA, the researchers zapped their samples with high-intensity visible light. This caused the EMA to form strong, cross-linking bonds with the dead DNA it got tangled up in.

The bonds prevent the DNA molecules from separating, so they can't be copied during PCR. Only DNA from live cells will be copied, alerting the testers to the presence of living bacteria.

¡°Once you've determined the optimum concentrations of EMA you can completely inhibit amplification of DNA from dead cells,¡± Levin stated in research published in the Journal of Microbiological Methods.

The scientists have worked out the protocols for testing for V. vulnificus. The method can be used to test for other harmful bacteria after some minor adjustments are made, they say.