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E. coli O104:H4 - 38 Dead, 824 with HUS, 3351 Ill - Massachusetts, Michigan,
and Wisconsin with 5
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/german-e-coli-o104h4---38-dead-824-with-hus-3351-ill---massachusetts-michigan-and-wisconsin-with-5/
by Bill Marler on June 15, 2011
And E. coli O104:H4 that
has been linked to locally grown organic sprouts, according to the European
Food Safety authority, has caused 821 HUS cases, including 24 deaths,
and 2,530 non-HUS cases, including 13 deaths. Germany also reports two
new HUS cases and 17 new non-HUS STEC cases. Germany reports a new HUS
death. In Luxembourg, one STEC case developed HUS. However, according
to press reports, a total of 38 people have died, including a 90-year-old
reported dead Wednesday by Hamburg authorities.
According to the CDC, four confirmed cases and one suspect case of STEC
O104:H4 infections have been identified. Of these five cases, four recently
traveled to Hamburg, Germany, where they were likely exposed. The bacterial
isolates from the three HUS cases reported in Massachusetts, Michigan,
and Wisconsin and one case with Shiga toxin-positive diarrheal illness
in Michigan have been confirmed as matching the outbreak strain. The
Michigan case with Shiga toxin-positive diarrheal illness did not travel
to Germany, but is a close contact of the Michigan case with HUS. Their
diarrheal illness developed later and was likely acquired through contact
with the HUS case.
pledges 'immediate' review after E.coli crisis contained
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Germany-pledges-immediate-review-after-E.coli-crisis-contained
By Rory Harrington, (10,Jun,2011)
indicated it will conduct a review into the effectiveness of its response
to the huge outbreak of E.coli as it sought to rebut growing unease
that it appeared no nearer confirming the source of the deadly bacteria.
German authorities are facing mounting criticism that the fragmented
nature of its regional and federal health bodies hampered the speed
and efficacy of its response as the official death toll confirmed by
the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) rose to 27, with a further
2,900 sickened across 12 countries.
Health Minister Daniel Bahr told Reuters yesterday that its health bodies
would embark on an "immediate evaluation" of how they cooperated
in the aftermath of the crisis that some reports claim has killed 30
and cost Europe's fruit and vegetable producers hundreds of millions
But he ruled out the notion of a centralised "epidemic police",
labelling it a "typical German response".
Baerbel Hoehn, an environment minister in North Rhine-Westphalia, raised
concerns that the decentralised political system may have led to a lack
of focussed leadership.
Responsibility for monitoring E.coli cases falls to each of the country's
16 states, while Federal authorities provide advice to regional bodies
and the public.
The medical director of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf,
the largest hospital at the epicentre of the outbreak, backed this view.
"Clearly a more centralized structure is probably better suited
to handle this," said Joerg F. Debatin. "But that really goes
down to the roots of what the German political system is made up of."
Concern has been voiced that while the first victims of the new E.coli
0104:H4 were diagnosed on 2 May, the alarm wasn't raised through the
EU-wide rapid alert system for a further three weeks.
Critics have suggested this has been a major reason behind the continuing
failure of the authorities to pinpoint its source. If, as is believed,
some sort of fresh vegetables are behind the outbreak, the time within
such perishable foods are consumed may mean the trail is already too
cold for scientists to follow and the cause of the problem impossible
German officials have already erroneously labelled Spanish cucumbers
as the source, while last weekend Gert Lindemann, agriculture minister
for Lower Saxony, blamed beansprouts. While scientist refuse to rule
the latter out, no tests have yet found traces of the specific E.coli
strain on dozens of samples taken.
While the number of new cases being reported daily is now dropping significantly
Behr said it was likely more deaths would occur.
Yesterday, the spotlight once again fell on cucumbers after E.coli was
found on the vegetable contained in rubbish from a family in Saxony-Anhalt.
However, reports suggested that it was not the same strain tied to the
current outbreak. The Netherlands also recalled a batch of E.coli-contaminated
beansprouts but again the bacteria is not an exact match.
kidney threat in E. coli victims
Hemolytic uremic syndrome, seen in German outbreak, can lead to kidney
By Melissa Eddy (15,Jun,2011)
As Europe's E. coli crisis
wanes, some experts are now warning of a looming threat: possible long-term
kidney complications for many of the victims.
Many of the roughly 3,200 E. coli patients are recovering and returning
home, and only a handful of new cases are being reported.
But along with a record death toll of 38, the outbreak also produced
an unprecedented number of patients with a rare ailment known as hemolytic
uremic syndrome, or HUS, which can lead to kidney failure.
Germany usually sees some 40 to 50 such cases a year; 784 people suffered
from HUS in the outbreak. The complication usually hits about 10 percent
of E. coli patients and kills up to 5 percent of those infected.
Some experts warn that Germany could now face dozens of patients needing
"We cannot forget these people," said Dr. Karl Lauterbach,
a health expert with the opposition Social Democrats who is predicting
that 50 to 100 could need long-term dialysis or an organ transplant
- a procedure for which they could wait up to a decade.
"We need more kidney donations, we need a better treatment system
and in the future we cannot underestimate such infections."
The E. coli strain that broke out in Germany affected adults who were
otherwise healthy and mostly aged between 20 and 50. German health authorities
believe they may have been the hardest hit because they are typical
consumers of vegetable sprouts, which have been identified as the source
of the outbreak.
In previous E. coli outbreaks, up to half of patients who developed
the kidney complication were still suffering from long-term side effects
10 to 20 years after first falling sick, including high blood pressure
caused by dialysis.
In addition to possible kidney problems, people who have survived serious
E. coli infections may also suffer from neurological damage, as the
bacteria may have eaten away at blood vessels in the brain. That could
mean suffering from seizures or epilepsy years after patients recover
from their initial illness.
Dr. Friedrich Hagenmueller, the medical director of Asklepios Hospital
Altona, in Hamburg, the center of the outbreak over the past weeks,
said most patients have been recovering well, and cautioned it is too
early to speculate about future complications.
"There is still a chance that many of these people will get well.
We see a lot of young patients who are recovering very well," he
said in a telephone interview.
"At the moment, nobody knows what percent of patients will suffer
According to Germany's Organ Transplant Foundation, some 8,000 patients
were waiting for a kidney, while only about 2,900 transplants were conducted
Lauterbach said that while the nation's health system could cope with
the strain, being on long-term dialysis while awaiting a transplant
would mean a severe drop in quality of life.
And even if a patient appears to have initially recovered from kidney
failure, there could still be serious setbacks as time passes, said
Dr. Charles Tomson, president of Britain's Renal Association.
"There may be a time bomb effect of people who recover enough kidney
function, start passing urine, their kidneys start working well enough
to clear waste products, but then those people may be at increased risk
of kidney failure later because they've had a period of major kidney
damage and it just takes less to upset them later," Tomson said.
Since the new E. coli strain appeared more lethal than related strains
in the past, it was possible there would be more patients with complicated
side effects in the future, he said.
In Germany, if a person has not signed up to be a donor, the next of
kin must decide whether to donate in the event of sudden death.
That means a German can wait from seven to 10 years for a kidney, while
patients seeking transplants in Britain or the United States face average
wait times of around three to five years.
Studies commissioned by the German Foundation for Organ Transplant show
that more than 80 percent of the population would be willing to donate
organs, but only a fraction fill out the necessary paperwork. That leaves
bereaved relatives forced to make the choice in a moment of duress.
Most decide against it.
"There is not enough information about the issue," said Thomas
Mehlitz, who is the transplant coordinator for Berlin's Charite Hospital
and is faced with a constant lack of healthy organs needed for patients.
AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng contributed to this report from London.
death from E. coli reported in Germany
Source : http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/health/2011-06/15/c_13929704.htm
A two-year-old boy became
the first child to be killed by the deadly E. coli in Germany on Tuesday,
To date, the terrifying EHEC infection has claimed 36 lives in Germany
and one in Sweden.
The child, from the northern town of Celle, died in hospital in Hanover
of kidney failure and abnormal breakdown of red blood cells, two extreme
symptoms of the infection with enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), authorities
in the state of Lower Saxony said.
The boy became the youngest known fatal victim since the outbreak of
E. coli in May. His father and 10-year-old brother were also infected
with the deadly bacteria, but are recovering, doctors told a local newspaper.
The Robert Koch Institute, Germany's national disease prevention and
control agency, said on Tuesday that a total of 3, 235 cases had been
reported in the country. Among them, 782 people are suffering from haemolytic
uraemic syndrome (HUS), a life- threatening illness arising from E.
coli, which would destroy human kidney and nervous system.
The institute added that the number of new infections is declining sharply
in recent days, with only seven reported on Tuesday.
German authorities announced on Friday that bean sprouts from a farm
in northern Germany were one source of the outbreak, and dropped the
previous warning against eating raw cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce.
However, the food panic has caused losses worth hundreds of millions
of dollars for European farmers.
Suggests Sprout Seeds Were Contaminated
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/evidence-against-sprouts-mounts-in-germany/
by Mary Rothschild | Jun 13, 2011
Health authorities have said
contaminated bean sprouts were the source of the outbreak of E. coli
O104:H4 in Germany, and that became more evident this weekend.
But as the epidemiological and laboratory evidence mounted, so did the
toll of victims, even as the rate of infection slowed. The latest numbers
released Monday: 36 dead and 3,330 ill.
Meanwhile, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) reported
Monday that epidemiological evidence "confirms suspicions"
that sprout seeds could be at the center of the contamination, and advised
against eating raw sprouts, even homegrown sprouts.
The BfR said a family in Lower Saxony became infected with enterohemmorhagic
E. coli (EHEC) after eating home-sprouted seeds.
Investigators now believe they have "definitive proof" that
sprouts from an organic farm in the Bienenb?ttel, Germany were at least
one source of the outbreak, The Local newspaper reported Sunday.
On Saturday, an analysis
by BfR confirmed that bacteria on sprouts found in the garbage bin of
two case patients in Rhein-Sieg-Kreis matched the outbreak strain, according
to the Federal Consumer and Agriculture Ministry.
European Union Health Commissioner John Dalli said in a statement, "The
source of contamination is now identified and the epidemiological findings
are backed by laboratory results."
Here are more highlights from the investigation and other reports:
-- Friday's announcement that bean and seed sprouts were the "most
likely vehicle" of the outbreak was the conclusion of authorities
from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the Federal Institute for Risk
Assessment and the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety.
"It is the sprouts," RKI president Reinhard Burger said at
their joint news conference.
-- So far there is no evidence that bean and seed sprouts from the implicated
farm in Lower Saxony were exported beyond Germany.
-- Authorities are recommending that people in Germany not eat raw bean
and seed sprouts of any origin. "Households, caterers, and restaurants
should dispose of any bean and seed sprouts that they have, and food
items that might have come in contact with them ...."
-- Meanwhile, the recommendation to avoid cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce
in northern Germany has been cancelled since Friday.
-- As of June 10, 68 percent of the cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome
(HUS) in Germany were in females and 88 percent in adults aged 20 years
-- As of June 10, 60 percent
of the E. coli infections (without HUS) were in females and 87 percent
in adults aged 20 years or older.
-- On Saturday, RKI said there had been a reduction in the number of
E. coli/HUS cases reported to them. The number of patients showing up
at emergency rooms with bloody diarrhea has not decreased since June
-- Cases of illnesses linked to the outbreak in Germany have now been
reported in Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece,
Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,
the United Kingdom and the United States.
-- At present, RKI says the possibility of human introduction of the
E. coli pathogen into the sprouts at the farm can't be ruled out. "However,
water, preceding suppliers or seeds are also possible sources. These
possibilities are currently under investigation through investigations
of supply chains and laboratory analyses."
-- Because the seed used for the production of sprouts may also be the
source of the pathogen, other sprout producing businesses could potentially
be contributing to the spread of E. coli O104:H4 as well, RKI warned.
News reports from Germany:
-- Karl Lauterbach, health spokesman for the opposition Social Democrats,
told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that about 100 patients have suffered
such terrible kidney damage that they may require transplants or need
dialysis for the rest of their lives.
-- In Germany local hospitals report E. coli infections to state health
officials, who then notifiy RKI, the national health authority, a process
that can take at least a week. That slow reporting process may be one
reason the epidemic became so widespread.
-- RKI reported that fewer new cases of bloody diarrhea are being reported,
but it is not yet clear whether this is because people have been avoiding
tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce (items often served with sprouts), or
because the contaminated sprouts have been depleted.
Platform: Warning Labels for Sprouts?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/publishers-platform-sprout-warning-labels/
by Bill Marler | Jun 12, 2011
With well over 40 outbreaks
linked to sprouts over the last few decades, it should come as no surprise
that the 33 dead and more than 3,000 ill (789 with HUS) in Europe and
the United States have been linked to German-grown, locally consumed
In fact, the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office of Rhine-Ruhr-Wupper
has found E. coli O104 in an opened package of sprouts retrieved from
the trash of a household in Rhein-Sieg-Kreis. Two of the three family
members in the household ate the sprouts and were infected with the
The sprouts came from G?rtnerhoff Bienenb?ttel GmbH from Lower Saxony.
John Remmel, Consumer Protection Minister for North Rhine-Westphalia,
cautions that the new finding is not definitive, as the package of sprouts
had already been opened. Additional studies are still in progress. However,
earlier Reinhard Burger, president of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany's
national disease control center, said the pattern of the outbreak had
produced enough evidence to draw that conclusion even though [at the
time] no tests of sprouts from an organic farm in Lower Saxony had come
back positive for the E. coli strain behind the outbreak. Warnings have
been lifted against lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. On Friday, Burger
said at a press conference with the heads of Germany's Federal Institute
for Risk Assessment and Federal Office for Consumer Protection: "It
is the sprouts."
The CDC almost agrees with
Sprouts Not Healthy Food for Everyone
Children, the elderly, and persons whose immune systems are not functioning
well should not eat raw sprouts, because current treatments of seeds
and sprouts cannot get rid of all bacteria present.
Persons who are at high risk for complications from foodborne illness
should probably not eat raw sprouts, according to an article in the
current issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC's peer-reviewed journal,
which tracks new and reemerging infectious diseases worldwide.
Although sprouts are often considered a "health food," the
warm, humid conditions needed for growing sprouts from seeds are also
ideal for bacteria to flourish. Salmonella, E. coli, and other bacteria
can grow to high levels without affecting the appearance of the sprouts.
Researchers have treated both seeds and sprouts with heat or washed
them in solutions of chlorine, alcohol, and other chemicals. Some of
these disinfectants reduced the levels of bacteria, but a potential
hazard remained, especially for persons with weak immune systems. High
temperatures that would kill the bacteria on the seeds would also keep
them from sprouting. Until an effective way is found to prevent illness
from sprouts, they should be eaten with caution, if at all.
Are the Cause, Who's to Blame?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/sprouts-are-the-cause-but-whos-to-blame/
by Ross Anderson (11,Jun, 2011)
So the mystery of Germany's
sproutbreak is finally solved. Let the finger-pointing begin.
Nearly six weeks into the European epidemic of toxic E. coli O104:H4,
German authorities Friday confirmed what had been suspected for days
- that it was locally grown sprouts from an organic farm in Lower Saxony
that sickened more than 3,000 people.
But that announcement only intensified public criticism targeting public
health officials at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and other German
agencies responsible for food safety.
First detected in the first few days of May, the outbreak has raged
unabated for nearly six weeks, with the toll mounting daily - 3,086
sick, 789 with hemolytic uremic syndrome, 31 dead. Critics pointed out
that hundreds, even thousands of illnesses might have been prevented
had the source been identified sooner and pulled from regional markets
To make matters worse, public attention was drawn for more than a week
to other vegetables, especially cucumbers from Spain, which were wrongly
fingered as a possible source.
The German establishment newspaper Der Spiegel compiled criticisms from
all points in the the political spectrum.
The conservative Die Welt: "Why did authorities look at Spanish
cucumbers so long and so intensely in their search for the E. coli source
when a closer look revealed them to be innocent? Why did the E. coli
hunters not focus much sooner on the sprouts from Lower Saxony?"
That paper pointed out that another German agency, the Federal Institute
for Risk Assessment, had warned consumers about "bacterial contamination
of sprouts and kitchen-ready salad mixtures." That warning was
updated in early May, even as the outbreak was beginning. "Why
didn't the alarm bells go off at the agency?" the newspaper asked.
The leftist Frankfurter Rundschau sees a paralyzing conflict between
federal and regional authorities. The RKI "isn't allowed to question
patients (because) that's the domain of regional authorities,"
the paper said.
That critique reinforced the observations of U.S. epidemiologists, who
have wondered from the outset why German officials were so slow to interview
victims about what they had eaten in previous days and weeks.
"You don't have to interview everybody, just a statistical sample,"
said Dr. Kirk Smith, foodborne illness director at the Minnesota Department
of Health. But tracing outbreaks to their source depends on quick and
thorough interviews, using people trained to conduct such interviews,
He and others pointed out that the concentration of illnesses in northern
Germany should have made the investigation much easier - and quicker.
With hundreds of illnesses in a relatively small area, the source is
likely to be local -- which should have cast serious doubt on the Spanish
In another critique compiled by Der Spiegel, the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel
commented; "Organic is good, chemicals (are) bad. We get this message
drummed into us every day. It is a macabre irony that evil chemistry
... is now saving people whose lives have been endangered by organic
Other critics focused on the nature of German political authority, which
places substantial responsibility with regional health officials. They
suggest that a stronger federal authority might have been able to detect
and respond more quickly to the epidemic.
That analysis is similar to the continuing debate over public health
in the U.S., where some state health departments are consistently more
successful than others at dealing with foodborne illness.
May Change How We Deal With E. coli
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/e-coli-expert-weighs-in-with-facts-about-o104h4/
by James Andrews (16, Jun, 2011)
With recent estimates attributing
the ongoing German E. coli outbreak to 3,406 illnesses and 39 deaths,
it has become the deadliest -- and second largest -- E. coli outbreak
in history. And while already singular in its impact, the outbreak sets
itself farther apart in that its infections have resulted not from the
infamous E. coli strain O157:H7, but O104:H4, a rare strain never before
linked to a large foodborne illness outbreak.
In the weeks following the outbreak's onset in Germany, an unprecedented
collaboration of scientists worldwide have taken to studying O104, analyzing
its genes to compare it to other strains and better understand its underlying
characteristics. Jorge Gir?n, Ph.D., E. coli researcher and associate
professor of microbiology at the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens
Institute, believes this outbreak could lead to significant adjustments
in how both agriculture producers and healthcare providers deal with
What most predominantly differentiates O104 from O157 is its adoption
of numerous traits not typically found congregated in one strain: Not
only does it produce the noxious Shiga toxin of the virulent enterohemorrhagic
strains, it also possesses defensive enteroaggregative traits --a combined
mouthful of properties much more difficult to tolerate physically than
The term "enteroaggregative" refers to sticky strains of the
bacteria that group together --aggregate -- into a "stacked-brick
pattern" and cling to intestinal tracts. Once there, they induce
heavy mucus production in their host's intestines, which they then use
for both protection and sustenance.
Enteroaggregative E. coli are known to cause persistent diarrhea, but
are historically unrelated to hemorrhaging and hemolytic-uremic syndrome
(HUS), the acute kidney disease caused by Shiga toxin-producing enterohemorrhagic
O157 is enterohemorrhagic, but not enteroaggregative. The bacteria do
not aggregate together, but they possess cell structures that help them
adhere to intestines, where they produce the Shiga toxin known for inflicting
HUS and making E. coli a household name among pathogens.
By comparison, O104 clumps together and spurs mucus production for protection
while also releasing Shiga toxin into the bloodstream, an adaptation
that has resulted in at least 826 cases of HUS in this outbreak.
As Ross Anderson reported for Food Safety News two weeks ago, this outbreak's
ratio of HUS cases -- now roughly one in four -- is alarmingly high,
at least for the time being. HUS cases among O157 infections generally
average closer to one in 10.
Though Gir?n cautioned it is too early to tell if O104 is truly more
virulent than O157, he said O104's nasty combination of traits likely
gives it the edge.
"The mucus production explains why these bacteria are so persistent,"
he said. "It's very hard for the immune system to get rid of them
while they're embedded in the host material, and it could be that the
bacteria are releasing the toxins without even being attacked."
O104 is not the first known strain with this particular r?sum? of traits
-- a similar strain known as O111:H2 caused a small outbreak in France
in 1992 -- but it has by far caused the greatest impact, and it distinguishes
itself even further in the victims it affects.
Gir?n voiced special concern in the fact that O104 has predominantly
caused HUS in adults, when children and the elderly are historically
the main victims of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. On Tuesday, a 2-year-old
boy became the first child to die from the outbreak, which has killed
37 adults -- mainly women.
Thus far, no clear explanation for this discrepancy has surfaced, though
it might be partially related to eating habits, with children less likely
to eat the sprouts that have been implicated as the source of the outbreak.
Numerous other commentators, including "Superbug" author and
blogger Maryn McKenna, have brought up O104's extensive list of antibiotic
resistances, citing it as an enormous --though tangential -- public
health concern. Physicians know not to prescribe antibiotics for O157
infections because the sudden killing of the bacteria can release HUS-inducing
and potentially deadly amounts of Shiga toxin.
As Gir?n pointed out, that fact could have created one major problem
in the early development of the outbreak: It is likely that German hospitals
were only screening the first enterohemorrhagic E. coli symptoms for
O157 and not O104, which no one would have suspected before news of
the outbreak spread.
"When people come into a hospital with bloody diarrhea, they would
normally assume it's O157 and not give antibiotics to the patients,"
he said. "In this case, because it wasn't O157, the physicians
might have thought it was okay to give antibiotics, not knowing that
O104 would produce the Shiga toxin."
This potential misunderstanding over antibiotics might at least partially
explain the high rate of HUS among the ill. Gir?n said this outbreak
may necessitate new screening procedures at hospitals to account for
O104 alongside O157, ensuring patients don't receive antibiotics that
could exacerbate their illness or kill them.
In regard to its environmental origins, O104 takes after the more-prevalent
enteroaggregative E. coli in that only humans are its host, not cattle
or other ruminants. It can spread through contact with objects in the
environment, water, food, or human fecal matter.
As a final caution, Gir?n warned that only sufficient cooking can eliminate
E. coli from vegetables. Just weeks ago, he and several colleagues published
a study showing that E. coli can infiltrate and survive in the inner
tissues of spinach after industrial washing techniques and thorough
washing in kitchens.
"If vegetables are contaminated with E. coli, the only way to absolutely
make sure they're safe is to boil or cook the plant. That's something
we're just now starting to understand," he said. "All of this
is going to change how produce is treated at the industrial setting."
Shed Light on Germany's Deadly Pathogen
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/scientists-shed-light-on-germanys-lethal-pathogen/
by Mary Rothschild |(15,Jun, 2011)
As the devastating outbreak
of E. coli began unfolding in Germany, there was an urgent need to learn
more about the unusual pathogen that was making hundreds of people sick.
So data from the genome sequencing of the rare E. coli serotype O104
were instantly released via the Internet to researchers around the world,
and a flurry of information-swapping followed.
Discussions about this strange bacterium went viral, "rapidly communicated
via blogs, Twitter and private web pages," according to an editorial
published Tuesday in Eurosurveillance.
This combination of advanced molecular typing technology and electronic
communication has led to what the authors describe as intriguing, preliminary
analyses "outside the standard peer-reviewed scientific publication
The accompanying report in Eurosurveillance, written by an international
team of investigators, emphasizes the importance of working collaboratively
to quickly unlock the secrets of an infectious organism.
"The rapid exchange of information, strains and DNA fingerprints
within national and international public health and food safety networks
has been vital in the quick and alternative assessment of the public
health significance causing the outbreak of HUS in Germany in May and
June 2011," the authors state.
The contributions have resulted not only in "important new findings
on the nature and possible origin of the epidemic strain," but
the microbiology has helped to devise new lab screening tools for hospitals
diagnosing patients and for public health authorities investigating
Among the findings:
The outbreak strain is not a typical virulent Shiga toxin-producing
(STEC) strain, the authors write, but a much rarer and "hypervirulent"
hybrid -- an enteroaggregative E. coli (EAggEC) now armed with the ability
to produce Shiga toxin.
Adding to its virulence is a receptor for iron-chelating aerobactin,
which is associated with extraintestinal E. coli strains, like those
that cause diseases such as meningitis, sepsis and urinary tract infections
outside the intestinal tract.
The genome of the outbreak strain "clustered closest" to an
EAggEC strain isolated in 2002, with the addition of the Shiga toxin
factor and antibiotic resistance genes.
EAggEC causes diarrhea in travelers and persistent diarrhea in infants
and young children in countries with poor sanitation, but is common
in all parts of the world, industrialized and developing nations alike,
the report explains. Unlike STEC, which have an animal reservoir (primarily
ruminants), EAggEC have a human reservoir, so E. coli O104 likely does
"This observation suggests the startling possibility," the
authors note, "that this new O104 strain may have the capacity
to persist among human populations, perhaps indefinitely."
EAggEC is capable of causing diarrhea in adults and children, even in
the absence of Shiga toxin, notes the report, which cites a 1993 outbreak
of the bacteria among Japanese children that sickened 2,700.
The authors also state that "the role of EAggEC as an important
pathogen in AIDS patients continues to develop, and EAggEC now ranks
among the most important enteric pathogens in this population group."
While most STEC are eae positive, the outbreak O104 strain in Germany
is eae negative -- eae being genetic coding for the protein intimin,
which the bacteria use to attach to the intestinal wall. The Eurosurveillance
report says, " ... it is indeed conceivable that the enteroaggregative
adherence phenotype could have allowed these E. coli O104 strains to
colonise the intestinal mucosa of the affected patients as efficiently
as typical eae-positive STEC/VTEC strains.
"The different mechanism of adhesion might also explain why this
strain is more likely to cause severe disease in adults rather than
children ..." But the authors say this factor needs more study,
and that the different rates of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) between
adults and children in Germany might just reflect a difference in exposures
to the outbreak source.
Hybrid strains of E. coli
such as O104 aren't new, the researchers suggest. For example, one HUS
outbreak caused by a "mixed pathotype," but a different serotype,
was reported from France in 1998. But the authors found five previously
reported cases of diarrhea or HUS caused by O104:H4: Germany in 2001,
France in 2004, South Korea in 2005, Georgia in 2009 and Finland in
The 2011 German outbreak strain most closely resembles the Georgian
strain genetically, they said, but there is no known epidemiological
link between the two so "the meaning of this finding remains elusive."
The Eurosurveillance editorial says that since June 10, the number of
newly reported cases of infection and HUS in Germany has been gradually
decreasing, "which suggests we may finally be reaching the end
of the outbreak."
The search for the source and vehicle of the outbreak has been "long
and arduous," the editorial went on, adding that it was "extensive
investigations" that finally implicated the organic sprout farm
in Lower Saxony near Hamburg.
"Sprouts produced at this farm had been distributed to many of
the incriminated restaurants and catering facilities, and thus identified
as the likely vehicle of infection," the authors wrote.
As of Tuesday, the outbreak toll was 3,335 ill, 817 with HUS and 37
dead, including a 2-year-old boy, the first child to die.
German Sprouts Become Contaminated?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/german-officials-seek-source-of-e-coli-on-sprouts/
by Gretchen Goetz (14,Jun , 2011)
The German E. coli outbreak
that has now claimed 37 lives and damaged fresh produce markets across
Europe finally seems to be abating; but the question of how the suspect
sprouts became contaminated remains unanswered.
Investigators are looking closely at whether the problem originated
with sprout seeds.
After 5 workers on an organic farm in Bienenb?ttel, Lower Saxony were
confirmed to have been infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli,
health authorities have been trying to figure out whether they could
have transferred the germ onto the sprouts or whether the sprouts made
While investigators said the possibility of human introduction of the
E. coli pathogen into the sprouts at the farm can't be ruled out, and
that water and preceding suppliers are also possible sources, there
is growing suspicion that the sprout seeds arrived at the farm already
carrying the bacteria.
What health officials do know is that the 5 infected workers reported
eating broccoli, garlic and fenugreek sprouts. Workers who had eaten
alfalfa and spicy mix varieties of sprouts remained healthy, according
to Der Spiegel.
On Monday, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) said a family
in Lower Saxony became infected with enterohemmorhagic E. coli (EHEC)
after eating home-sprouted seeds grown from a kit, suggesting that seed
supplied to several sprout companies may have been contaminated.
What is the deadliest E. coli outbreak in history has now sickened 3,335,
with 818 developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a life-threatening
Because the outbreak was linked to vegetables, more and more countries
have been turning away from German produce.
Last week, Russia took the drastic step of banning all fresh produce
imports from Germany. Monday, Taiwan said it would bar German sprouts
from entering the country.
Mistrust from abroad and within the EU has cost vegetable producers
dearly this season. At the height of the local growing season, sales
have dipped drastically below their usual levels.
Approximately 5,900 tons of cucumbers, over 3,200 acres of lettuce and
3, 500 tons of tomatoes have had to be destroyed, reported Germany's
Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner Tuesday.
Given these damages, the European Union has increased the compensation
it has agreed to give to European farmers from 150 million to 210 million
euros, according to Neue Osnabrueker Zeitung. This brings the amount
of reparations for farmers up to about 50 percent of profits lots, a
"small change," say Spanish agricultural organizations, according
to Economics Newspaper.
As for the virulent effects of the disease, while the Commissioner of
the European Union, John Dalli, said Monday that the problem is now,
"under control," health minister Daniel Bahr told Bild that,
"More fatalities cannot be ruled out, painful as it is to say."
Monday also brought with it a scare that sprouts might not in fact have
been the definitive source of the outbreak, when enterohemorrhagic E.
coli (EHEC) was found in lettuce imported from Bavaria, according to
Der Spiegel. However, the E. coli strain on the lettuce was determined
to be unrelated to the outbreak strain.
Nonetheless, the detection of dangerous, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli
on vegetables throughout Europe, including Spanish cucumbers and Bavarian
lettuce, has raised concern about the prevalence of pathogens on European
Tracking Three Strains of E. coli
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/eastern-tn-e-coli-cases-hard-to-sort-out/
by Dan Flynn | (14, Jun, 2011)
Clusters of E. coli infection
reported in Eastern Tennessee could be the "new normal" as
non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) take their place
beside O157, making outbreaks all that more difficult to sort out.
"It is very confusing," said Tennessee's State Epidemiologist,
Dr. Tim F. Jones on Monday, as he explained that in addition to three
O157:H7 cases, two cases of E. coli O103 and one of O169 have been confirmed
in the eastern end of the state.
Tennessee is being assisted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) in investigating a total of 11 cases of E. coli infection.
Dr. Jones said further complicating the investigation is the fact that
in the DNA "fingerprinting" by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis,
no two of the PFGE patterns are the same for any of the E. coli strains.
PFGE patterns of bacteria isolated from the people who are ill are often
used to link cases to a common source.
E. coli O103 is one of the "Big Six" among the non-O157 STEC.
(The others being 026, O111, O121, O45 and O145.) E. coli O169 is rare,
but was reported in 1999 as responsible for two outbreaks in Japan,
one involving 132 cases and the second with 126 cases.
Jones said the lab-test results have left Tennessee health officials
with a difficult investigation, trying to determine common foods and
activities for victims. At this point, he said, sources of contamination
could be anything from exposure to petting farm animals or swallowing
water from the wrong swimming hole.
After health officials confirmed they were dealing with STEC bacteria,
two western Virginia siblings turned up in Tennessee hospitals on June
5 with illnesses caused by E. coli O157:H7. The two-year-old girl died,
while her five-year-old brother recovered after being treated at the
Vanderbilt Medical Center in Knoxville.
But Jones said there appears to be no connection between those two cases
from western Virginia and the 11 eastern Tennessee cases, not even the
O157 cases in Tennessee.
Eastern Tennessee annually sees 7 or 8 cases of E. coli illness, and
the spike in infections has health officials troubled. The good news
may be that three suspected cases came back negative for any STEC bacteria.
Only E. coli O157:H7 has been declared an "adulterant" in
meat. That means it is an unacceptable, impure substance that regulators
will not tolerate.
USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) currently is considering
a petition filed in late 2009 by the Seattle food safety law firm of
Marler Clark, sponsor of Food Safety News, to declare the "Big
Six" as adulterants.
According to CDC figures, there are 31,229 illnesses from non-O157 Shiga
toxin-producing E. coli annually in the U.S.
The current deadly outbreak in Germany is caused by a strain of non-O157
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli called O104:H4. Except for a handful of
returning tourists, cases involving that strain have not been seen in
shortcomings in focus as outbreak wanes
German officials seek lessons to be learned now that crisis is stabilizing
Source : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43384471/ns/health-food_safety
By GEIR MOULSON, MARIA CHENG (13,Jun,2011)
The battle against Europe's
deadly E. coli outbreak descended into cacophony and confusion. Now
that the crisis is stabilizing, German officials acknowledge lessons
to be learned.
Among the problems: a tangle of federal and regional authorities, chaotic
communication and a system for reporting cases that many say is antiquated.
Cases began appearing at the start of May, and the outbreak swelled
to crisis level over the next three weeks - with the German city of
Hamburg at the epicenter. It appears to be waning after sickening more
than 3,000 people and killing 36.
"We must succeed in speaking with one voice in order to give citizens
the necessary information, the necessary transparency," Health
Minister Daniel Bahr conceded after officials on Friday finally declared
sprouts from a farm in northern Germany to be the culprit.
A case in point: the sprouts were first fingered as a likely cause by
regional officials nearly a week earlier, but authorities backtracked
when initial tests turned out negative.
All the while, a warning against cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, based
purely on patient interviews, remained in place, causing major losses
for farmers - especially in Spain.
Hamburg officials for days fingered Spanish cucumbers as the probable
source, but tests cleared them.
The European Union's health commissioner at one point warned Germany
against issuing more premature conclusions about the origin of contaminated
Critics say the outbreak exposed weaknesses in Germany's cherished but
sometimes cumbersome federal system, in which - alongside national institutions
- 16 state governments have their own health authorities, a state of
affairs that can result in long, potentially time-consuming, reporting
An editorial in the medical journal Lancet remarked that "coordination
of the German public health response seems to have been utterly absent"
and said that underlined a wider lack of coordination in Europe. It
said "there is a strong case for a Europe-wide review of national
and continental responses to infectious disease outbreaks."
The German press has been scathing.
"A jumble of responsibilities reigns," German daily Sueddeutsche
Zeitung commented in an editorial. It noted that the battle involved
at least four offices at federal level, plus the states' health ministries
and local health offices.
Some in the governing coalition think critics have a point.
"The cases that we are seeing today are brutal and come on very
quickly, and in my opinion this diversity of official structures isn't
suited to it," said lawmaker Hans-Michael Goldmann, head of parliament's
consumer affairs committee.
The current system, he said, dates back to the crisis a decade ago over
the human form of mad cow disease - an infection that usually takes
years to develop.
Goldmann told German radio that three federal authorities - the disease
control center, the risk assessment and food safety agencies, which
report to different ministries - should now be merged into a single
agency focusing on health.
Another problem: a reporting system under which hospitals' notifications
of a serious illness still often wind their way to the national disease
control center by conventional post.
Karl Lauterbach, a health policy spokesman for the opposition Social
Democrats, called for those notifications in future to be e-mailed directly
to the center.
"We will examine in the (parliamentary) health committee how many
infections could have been prevented by an obligation to report electronically,"
Lauterbach told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
Bahr, the health minister, conceded that the issue needs addressing
"after a phase of calm."
"It's incomprehensible to me, too, that we are still using antiquated
means of communication here," he said on ZDF television. Bahr said
federal authorities were informed quickly of the infections by officials
in Hamburg, but information needs to be exchanged faster in future "to
get a nationwide overview quickly."
Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at the University of East
Anglia in England, said the outbreak could have been detected sooner
if doctors regularly did lab tests on patients with diarrhea - a standard
practice in Britain.
"The health system in Germany should surely be able to pay for
standard lab tests for people with bloody diarrhea," he said. "If
they had been testing people earlier in Germany, this outbreak would
certainly have been picked up far sooner."
Flemming Scheutz, the head of a World Health Organization collaborating
laboratory in Denmark, said many European countries' health ministries
"have no understanding" of the need to detect dangerous E.
coli in the early stages.
"Once it hits like this, with a virulent strain, the entire diagnostic
sector is not prepared for it because the techniques are not in place,"
"The outbreak detection is delayed maybe a week, so that means
the interviews with the patients go back maybe two weeks instead of
one week and how many people remember what they ate two weeks ago?"
German authorities also could have helped themselves by zeroing in on
the few dozen cases of people who fell sick abroad after visiting the
country, said Norman Noah, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology
at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
"Those people would have been far more likely to remember what
they ate and where," he said.
German officials have defended their warning on Spanish cucumbers, saying
the vegetables were contaminated with a different strain of E. coli.
But Noah said it should have been clear that was the wrong trail.
"A big clue was that the outbreak was so localized in northern
Germany, yet Spanish cucumbers are sold everywhere," he said. "That
really did not fit."
nanotechnology: Size matters, but it's not everything ...
Source : http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/On-your-radar/Food-safety/FDA-on-nanotechnology-Size-matters-but-it-s-not-everything
By Elaine Watson (10,Jun,2011)
The Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) will take size and functionality into account when it considers
whether a product contains nanomaterials or involves nanotechnology,
according to a new draft guidance document.
But it has not come up with a legal definition of nanomaterials (yet),
says the FDA.
"The draft guidance does not establish a regulatory definition
of the term 'nanotechnology' or any related vocabulary. Over time, we
plan to issue more specific guidances tailored to particular products
or classes of products."
When considering whether an FDA-regulated product contains nanomaterials
or involves the application of nanotechnology, FDA will in future ask:
o Whether an engineered material or end product has at least one dimension
in the nanoscale range (1 - 100 nanometers).
o Whether an engineered material or end product exhibits properties
or phenomena, including physical or chemical properties or biological
effects attributable to its dimensions, even if these fall outside the
nanoscale range, up to one micrometer.
These considerations will apply not only to new products, but also where
manufacturing changes alter the dimensions, properties or effects of
a material or its components, says the FDA.
Agreeing on a legal definition of nanomaterials that satisfies food
manufacturers, regulators, enforcement bodies and consumers has proved
challenging on both sides of the Atlantic, however.
If a definition concentrates on size alone, it will encompass a vast
swathe of perfectly innocuous and naturally-occurring nanomaterials
in products from milk to chocolate, confusing shoppers without serving
any useful purpose, point out food manufacturers.
But building a definition around 'insoluble', 'manufactured', or 'engineered'
nanoparticles is also problematic because of the difficulty of pinning
down the precise meaning of these terms, argue lawyers.
Even definitions based on whether nanomaterials behave 'significantly'
differently to their normal-sized counterparts raise similar issues
(what's the definition of 'significantly'?)
Even agreeing on how to measure such tiny materials is a thorny issue
owing to the unusual shape and structure of many nanoparticles. And
as particle sizes in many materials are rarely consistent, many substances
contain some particles on the nanoscale, and some that are not.
Meanwhile, the cost and complexity of the equipment needed to examine
materials at this scale - atomic force or scanning electron microscopes,
for example - makes enforcement expensive and challenging.
Unilever: Nano labels must
be meaningful and specific
In a round table debate on nanotechnology facilitated by the UK's Food
Standards Agency last year, Unilever R&D director, regulatory affairs,
consumer confidence and sustainability, Charles-Francois Gaudefroy,
said several factors needed to be taken into account when coming up
with a worakable definition of a nanomaterial.
"[It must take into account] particle size; deliberate engineering;
digestibility for nanomaterials used in foods and solubility in conditions
of use for materials used in home/personal care products; the characteristic
properties of the nanomaterial compared to its non-nano forms."
As for nano labels, it was important to establish their purpose before
ploughing ahead, he stressed: "We support labelling provisions
where they provide meaningful specific information to consumers."
Nanotechnology in food
Nanotechnology promises an exciting range of benefits to consumers from
the targeted release of nutrients to antimicrobial biofilms and lighter-weight
packaging able to block out oxygen, carbon dioxide and moisture.
Other interesting applications include nano-sensors that could detect
pathogens, nano-encapsulation of natural food colours and other bioactives,
and nanocellulose for moister bread, crispier crackers and juicier meat
Click here for a round-up of nanotechnology applications in food from
our sister title FoodManufacture.co.uk.
soft drink reports prompt bans on Taiwanese imports
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Tainted-soft-drink-reports-prompt-bans-on-Taiwanese-imports
By Guy Montague-Jones, (14, Jun, 2011)
Food safety authorities in
Asia and Australasia have banned a number of soft drinks from Taiwan
after it emerged that a clouding agent had been contaminating with the
plastics additive DEHP.
Sports drinks, juices and fruit jellies are among the products that
have been pulled from shelves in Taiwan and banned by trading partners
in the wake of the contamination scare.
What is DEHP?
Used in food and drink packaging to make plastic less brittle, di (2-ethylhexyl)
phthalate (DEHP) is not approved as a food additive by any national
authority. But it has emerged that a clouding agent used in drinks in
Taiwan had been adulterated with the potentially cancer-causing additive.
There have so far been no confirmed reports of illness but to protect
public health the Taiwanese government has overseen the destruction
of 2.3 tons of tainted beverage products, according to Associated Press.
Trading partners have been alerted and food safety authorities in a
number of countries have announced product bans.
On Friday, Chinese authorities announced the suspension of imports of
950 products from 280 Taiwanese companies.
And an alert published by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service last
week said Hong Kong has so far banned two sports drinks and one fruit
jelly product from Taiwan. The contamination incident has also prompted
the Hong Kong government to set a maximum threshold for DEHP - bearing
in mind that low levels of the additive may be present in food due to
migration from plastic packaging.
Concern about the DEHP contamination incident spread as far as New Zealand
where food safety authorities banned imports of a guava fruit drink
and a lemon drink from Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) told this publication
that it had not been asked to work on the case for the moment.
warned over listeria in cookie plant
'Significant violations' found during FDA inspection of Georgia facility
Source : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43395784/ns/health-food_safety/
By_msnbc.com news services (14, Jun, 2011)
The Food and Drug Administration
says it found traces of listeria at a Kellogg Co. plant in while inspecting
a company cookie plant in Augusta, Ga. earlier this year.
In a letter released Tuesday, dated June 7, FDA regulators said "during
our inspection we found that you have significant violations of the
Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) regulations for food manufacturers."
The pathogen was found in several spots along the production line that
come in direct contact with food.
Kellogg makes a variety of Keebler and Famous Amos cookies at the factory
and says it has "undertaken a number of aggressive actions to address
(the FDA's) concerns, including comprehensive cleaning and extensive
"While the FDA did not identify specific concerns with the food,
we take this situation very seriously ... We have confidence in the
safety of our food," Kellogg spokeswoman Kris Charles said.
Based on the findings of the inspection, FDA said it had "determined
that the foods manufactured at your facility are adulterated ... in
that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions
whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they
may have been rendered injurious to health."
FDA said Kellogg had 15 working days following receipt of the letter
to outline what it planned to do to correct the violations.
Eating food contaminated with the bacterium listeria monocytogenes can
cause a dangerous infection called listeriosis. Symptoms may include
diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, fever, muscle aches, stiff
neck, confusion and convulsions, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
In the United States, an estimated 1,600 people become seriously ill
with listeriosis each year. Of those infected, about 260 die. Infections
during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery
or life-threatening infection to the child, CDC said.
The company is already struggling to recover from massive recalls of
food products last year.
Salmonella: It's Common, Costly, and Preventable
Source : http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Safety/biological/sneaky_salmonella_0608110703.html
By Capt. Christopher R. Braden (09,Jun,2011)
Each year, roughly 1 in 6
people in the United States gets sick from eating contaminated food.
Each of those illnesses represents something that went wrong somewhere
along the pathway from a farm to our table. Behind these illnesses are
familiar culprits (like Salmonella) and causes (like poor food safety
practices in farms, factories, restaurants, or homes).
Salmonella are bacteria that cause over one million illnesses each year.
This "bug" causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any
other type of germ found in food and $365 million in direct medical
costs each year. At CDC, we're concerned that Salmonella infections
have not declined in 15 years. So, how does Salmonella sneak into foods,
what foods do they get into, and what can be done?
How does Salmonella get into
Simply put-it gets into food through the poop of animals, such as cows,
birds, and mice. Because the natural home for Salmonella bacteria is
in the gut of these animals, their poop becomes a carrier of the germ
if it gets into food or water. For example, if water used to irrigate
a field has animal poop in it, the water can contaminate the food growing
in the field.
Contamination can also occur where food is being made. For instance,
a tainted ingredient can get on equipment, floors, storage bins, or
someone's hands and then spread to other food. In fact, a cutting board
or knife that has germs on it can contaminate other foods and lead to
What foods does Salmonella
One reason why it's tough to reduce Salmonella infections is because
the germ makes its way into so many different types of foods. Salmonella
can contaminate meats, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and even processed
foods such as peanut butter.
What can be done?
You can't smell or see Salmonella in or on food. That's why it's important
to do everything that you can to be food safe at home:
o Follow the tried-and-true behaviors of CLEAN, SEPARATE, COOK, and
CHILL. When it comes to Salmonella, this means:
o Wash your hands, utensils, cutting boards, and other surfaces before
and after handling meat and poultry.
o Thoroughly wash fresh fruits and vegetables.
o Assume that raw chicken and other meat have Salmonella and don't allow
them to contaminate surfaces and other foods, such as produce.
o Don't wash meat, poultry, and eggs! This can actually spreadSalmonella
to other foods.
o Cook meat, poultry, and eggs thoroughly to safe temperatures.
o Avoid unpasteurized dairy products (including soft cheeses) and juices.
o Make sure shellfish are cooked or treated for safe eating.
o Report suspected food poisoning to your local health department.
o Never prepare food for others if you have diarrhea or vomiting.
o Pay attention to food recall notices. Never serve or eat food that
has been recalled.
You can also support policies
that encourage good food safety practices among farmers, grocery stores,
and places that make, sell, or serve food.
from Salmonella Tainted Chicks, Ducklings
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/39-ill-from-salmonella-tainted-chicks-ducklings/
by Mary Rothschild (10,Jun, 2011)
A multistate outbreak of
Salmonella linked to backyard chicks and ducklings has expanded to affect
39 people in 15 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A national mail-order hatchery, Feed Store Chain A, is implicated in
the outbreak, which was first reported by the CDC in May.
Lab tests detected the Salmonella Altona outbreak bacteria on a chick
and in the the yard of an ill person's household in Ohio, as well as
from three samples in chick and duckling displays at two of the company's
locations in North Carolina.
In its latest update report on the outbreak, the CDC said many of the
illnesses began between Feb. 25 and May 23. Nine people have been hospitalized
due to severe symptoms. Forty-four percent of those sickened are 5 years
of age or younger.
Eight people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella
in Ohio; six in North Carolina; four in Kentucky and Pennsylvania; three
in Maryland and Virginia; two in New York and Tennessee; and one in
Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin
and West Virginia, the CDC said.
Illneses that occurred after May 6 may not have been reported due to
the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness
The CDC's advice to people
who are raising poultry at home:
-- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching
live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults
should supervise hand washing for young children.
-- If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until
you are able to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
-- Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring
for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.
-- Do not let children younger than 5 years of age, elderly persons,
or people with weak immune systems handle or touch chicks, ducklings,
or other live poultry.
-- Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially
in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as
kitchens, or outdoor patios.
-- Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink
around live poultry.
Outbreak map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
in Germany E. coli Puzzle
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/06/2-leads-2700-ill-in-germany-e-coli-epidemic/
by Gretchen Goetz (09,Jun, 2011)
German officials Wednesday
expressed some optimism that Europe's E. coli outbreak is finally ebbing.
But they also acknowledged two more food poisoning deaths, and warned
that more deaths are likely.
As of Thursday, the grim toll from the five-week-old crisis included
27 dead and more than 2,800 ill, 720 of them with hemolytic uremic syndrome
(HUS), the serious complication of E. coli infection responsible for
18 of the outbreak fatalities.
After several days during which the investigation focused on bean sprouts
as a possible source of the outbreak, German investigators shifted their
focus back toward cucumbers. In particular, officials cited a family
in eastern Germany that was sickened with the outbreak strain of E.
coli O104:H4. A cucumber contaminated with the same strain was found
in the family's compost pile.
However, investigators cautioned that there is no way to tell whether
the family was infected by the cucumber, or vice versa. The cucumber
had been in the compost for about 10 days, from May 19 to May 30, so
there was a strong possibility that cross contamination could explain
why the bacteria was detected on the cucumber.
At the same time, new circumstantial evidence lent more credence to
the theory that sprouts from a farm in Lower Saxony might have been
the spark that lit the outbreak fire. One hundred EHEC patients are
now known to have eaten in 4 cafeterias and 3 restaurants where the
farm's sprouts were served. In addition, one more farm employee (in
addition to 2 others previously identified) may have suffered bloody
diarrhea, according to Der Spiegel.
Results of tests from sprouts with a longer growing time (more likely
to be connected to earlier batches) are expected Friday.
Is the trail too cold?
David Acheson, a food safety consultant formerly with the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration, told NPR News that many signs indicate that
German health authorities are "struggling" in their efforts
to find the source.
"There's nothing worse than coming up with one source, and then
a second source, and coming back and saying: Whoops! We mad a mistake!'"
Acheson said. "It really seems like they're all over the map."
Acheson and other experts suggest that German health authorities have
relied too heavily on high-tech laboratory analysis of victims and potential
sources, looking for genetic matches. They appear to have pursued that
strategy rather than traditional epidemiology, which relies on extensive
interviews with outbreak victims, searching for common denominators
-one or more foods that have been consumed by all of the cases.
By the time German authorities began investigating, the epidemic had
been going on for nearly three weeks, and the contaminated food had
either been consumed or discarded, Acheson said. "They want confirmed
evidence," Acheson said. "But this far out, that can be almost
impossible to get."
An evolved, but not new,
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that the deadly E. coli
strain responsible for the outbreak was first identified 10 years ago,
in Munster, Germany.
Alexander Mellmann of the University Hospital of Munster, told the Journal
that the genetic analysis may help trace the epidemic to its source.
"Everything we know so far indicates it is an evolved strain,"
Mellmann told the Journal.
"If it was completely unknown, we'd struggle a lot more in our
effort to fight it."
The cost of medical treatment
While lives can not be quantified in terms of money, medical costs can
give a good picture of how severe the human damage has been thus far.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates
that a single fatal case of E. coli O157 (another Shiga-toxin producing
strain of E. coli with similar effects to the one in this outbreak)
costs approximately $7 million dollars in medical expenses.
Multiplying that by the number of deaths in this outbreak so far yields
an amount of $168,000,000, and that doesn't include the costly treatment,
including kidney dialysis, for the other 671 HUS cases who so far are
surviving or medical care for the other 2,000 who are infected.
In legal cases, HUS patients are usually rewarded an average of $3 million
in damages, which in this outbreak would amount to $2.36 billion, according
to attorney Bill Marler of the food safety law firm Marler Clark, publisher
of this site.
Most of those who have been sickened are in Germany, thought to be the
site of exposure, but the epidemic also has affected visitors from 12
other European countries, including Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark,
France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
and the United Kingdom according to World Health Organization (WHO).
Sweden and Denmark have been hit hardest. The former has 31 patients,
15 of them with HUS, a staggeringly high figure compared with the usual
10 percent of E. coli patients who develop this complication.
On Wednesday, the Canadian press reported an Ontario resident was ill
with the same, virulent strain, but said he is expected to recover.
In the U.S., CDC is reporting 3 HUS cases, 1 of them confirmed as part
of the outbreak, and 1 suspected E. coli case. All of these case patients
recently returned from Germany.
CDC has issued an advisory
to travelers to Germany echoing the Germans' warning not to eat sprouts,
tomatoes, cucumbers or leafy salads in that country -- all are still
suspect as possible sources of the epidemic.
International Conference for
Food Safety and Quality
Holiday Inn Chicago O'Hare Hotel
5615 North Cumberland Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60631
Major Topic: Detection Methods for
Microbiological/Chemical Hazards for Food Safety and Quality
November 8, 2011
Conference Place: Holiday Inn (Conference Room)
7:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee) and Poster
(***Exhibitors displaying time : 7:00-9:00 AM***)
- 9:00 Opening Announcement
A. Importance of Detection Methods for Food Safety and Quality
9:00 - 9:50 - The Importance of detection methods for food safety and
University of Georgia
9:50 - 10:40 - Advanced Detection methods for food safety and quality
University of Geulph
Editor of AEM
10:40 - 11:00 - Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section
11:00 - 11:50 - Current Foodborne Outbreak and legal issues
William D. Marler, Esq.
MarlerClark attorneys at Law
11:50 - 12:00: Exhibitos Presentation and GROUP PICTURE
12:00 - 1:00: Lunch buffet will be supported (Holiday Inn, Dinning
B. Detection methods for Food Allergen Residues
1:50 - Detection of Food Allergen Residues in Processed Foods and Food
University of Nebraska
Director - Food Allergy Research and Resource Program
1:50 - 2:20 - Rapid Testing for Allergen Control Programs
Presentation by Ryan Waters
- 2:30 - Break / Visit Companies' Booth
C. Molecular/Immunoassay methods for Detection of Microbiological and
3:10 - Costco
Way for Food Safety and Quality
Food Safety Quality Manager
3:10 - 3:50 - Novel
biosensor technologies for high throughput screening of pathogens and
Professor, Purdue University
3:50 - 4:10- Innovative detection methods with immunoassay based method
4:10 -4:30 - Novel nucleic acid testing methods for industrial applications
by Roka Bioscience
4:30 - 5:30 - Panel Discussion (All key speakers will be joined)
2008 IAFP President, bioMerieux
5:30 - Adjourn
November 9, 2011
Conference Place: Holiday Inn (Conference Room)
7:00 - 8:30 Registration and Breakfast (Juice, Tea, Coffee) and Poster
8:40 - 9:00 Poster Competition Award
D. Importance of conventional/biochemical detection methods for Food safety
9:00 - 9:40 - Rapid Methods/Automation and a Look into the Future
Daniel Y.C. Fung
Director of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology Workshop (KSU)
Professor, Kansas State University
9:40 - 10:20 - Rapid
Methods and Automation Workshop for 30 years
Director of Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology Workshop (UW)
Professor, University of Wisconsin
10:20 - 10:40 - Coffee
Break in Exhibitors' Section
- 10:50 - Presentation Title from Company presentation
- 11:30 - New demands for Rapid and Automative Detection Methods
for Food Safety
2008 IAFP President, bioMerieux
- 12:00 - Rapid methods for monitoring microbial numbers for
Senior Principal Scientist
-12:20 - Innovative methods for detection of microbiological/chemical
hazards for food safety
12:20 - 1:30 -
Lunch buffet will be supported (Holiday Inn, Dinning Room)
Impacts of Advanced/Conventional Detection methods on Food Industries
2:10 - Impact
of detection methods for food industries
2006 AOAC President
2:10 - 2:30 - Application of several detection methods for
- 2:40 -
Coffee Break in Exhibitors' Section
2:40 - 3:10 - The
importance of detection procedures for food safety by 3rd party
4:00 Application of Rapid Methods for Food Industries
IAFP President (2004)
President, AIV Consulting LLC.
4:00 - 4:30 -
Attendees' Certificate / Adjourn
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