February 22, 2012
By Ethan A. Huff
“If vaccinations work, then why would anyone be alarmed at kids who aren’t vaccinated? How could the kids who got the vaccine get measles to begin with?–KTRN
Mass hysteria over a measles outbreak in Hamilton County, Indiana, has led county health officials there to irrationally prohibit all unvaccinated children from attending two public schools. According to reports, 21 preschool-age students, seven elementary-age students, and 26 intermediate-age students in the Noblesville Schools District will not be allowed to attend either White River Elementary School or Noblesville Intermediate School, the two schools where there have been confirmed cases of measles, unless they either get the combination measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, or wait until 21 days after the last confirmed case of the disease is remediated.
Officials believe the outbreak first began as a result of two infected individuals who attended the recent Super Bowl in Indianapolis. It has since spread to 13 people in the Hoosier state, all of whom reportedly live in either Boone or Hamilton counties. And the two confirmed cases in schoolchildren has led to drastic measures that unfairly discriminate against students who have not been vaccinated for measles, some of whom are allergic to the vaccine.
“One confirmed case in a school setting constitutes an outbreak and will trigger outbreak procedures as designated by the state and local health department,” read a memo from Carmel Clay Schools, a nearby school district that plans to ban unvaccinated students from its schools as well, should there be a confirmed measles case in the district. As of this writing, however, there have been no confirmed cases outside the two Noblesville schools.
February 16, 2012
By Garance Burke
President Barack Obama’s proposed budget would eliminate the nation’s only program that regularly tests fruits and vegetables for deadly pathogens, leaving public health officials without a crucial tool used to investigate deadly foodborne illness outbreaks.
The budget plan the president sent to Congress Monday would ax the Agriculture Department’s tiny Microbiological Data Program, which extensively screens high-risk fresh produce throughout the year for bacteria including salmonella, E. coli and listeria.
If samples are positive, they can trigger nationwide recalls, and keep tainted produce from reaching consumers or grocery store shelves.
February 9th, 2012
By: Josh Levs
About 40 students at a university in New Jersey have been taken to hospitals for treatment after an outbreak of what authorities believe is the norovirus.
The Rider University students, at the school’s campus in Lawrenceville, were brought to hospitals late Wednesday night, the school said Thursday.
The suspected outbreak comes a week after an outbreak began at nearby Princeton University, which is still under way, officials said.
“We are coordinating treatment information with that university. We have also informed neighboring institutions,” Rider said on its website.
Norovirus is a highly contagious illness that is often called stomach flu or food poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States.
The most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Most people get better within one to two days.
Rider officials worked with health authorities throughout the night “to identify ill students in the residence halls and treat them either on site or send them to area hospitals,” the school said.
Some of those taken to hospitals have been discharged and returned to campus.
People who get the virus are contagious “from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover,” the school said.
While Government Discredits Raw Milk, It Keeps Names Of Salmonella Outbreak Restaurants Secret To Protect Corporate Profits
February 6, 2012
By Ethan A. Huff
“If the government or FDA weren’t making money from these companies, why would they keep their names a secret?” –KTRN
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is getting increasingly bold these days with openly admitting that it works directly for big industry interests rather than public health interests. In a recent report on why the agency did not disclose Taco Bell as being the “Mexican-style” restaurant chain involved in a recent salmonella outbreak, the FDA essentially admitted that it is more concerned with upholding a close-knit relationship with big industry players like Taco Bell than it is with being transparent and telling the truth for the public interest.
Last fall, at least 68 people in ten states were infected with salmonella poisoning from food sold at an undisclosed Mexican-style restaurant chain, according to an FDA announcement. At least 20 of these people became so ill that they had to be admitted to the hospital for treatment, and yet, the entire time, the FDA refused to disclose the name of the chain, which was later uncovered to be Taco Bell.
Any rational person can see that disclosing such information is not only pertinent and beneficial to public health efforts, but also a necessity if the information itself is to have any benefit or reason for being announced in the first place. But the FDA disagrees, having told ABC News in a recent interview that the agency often does not disclose this crucial information for fear that “it could have the effect of discouraging … cooperation between our agencies and the food industry.”
What this really means, of course, is that the FDA places a higher priority on catering to its special interests, which in this case includes fast food restaurant chains like Taco Bell, than it does to protecting public health. Obviously the public has a right to know if a major food producer is even potentially selling food that is tainted with harmful bacteria, despite what the FDA claims about the situation.
And yet if this same salmonella outbreak had been in any way linked to raw milk, you can be sure the name of the company involved would have been prematurely published far and wide, even if said outbreak later turned out not to have anything to do with raw milk. This is exactly what happened to Organic Pastures Dairy in California back in December when regulators illegitimately framed the company and shut down its business indefinitely (http://www.naturalnews.com).
Sunday, January 22, 2012
By Agence France-Presse
The death toll in Mexico from an outbreak of A(H1N1) swine flu has hit nine, with 573 cases detected, officials said Sunday.
The strain represents some 90 percent of detected cases of influenza in the country, the health ministry said in a statement.
The number of cases reported was up sharply from Thursday, when health officials said 333 had been identified. Authorities have brushed aside suggestions of a new health emergency but have begun tracking new cases since December.
January 12, 2012
In a community meeting Wednesday night to discuss an unusual outbreak of tics among female students at Le Roy High School, a state health official steadfastly refused to reveal the cause of the outbreak.
Citing not just HIPPA as a reason for keeping the diagnosis of 11 girls private, Dr. Gregory Young said that as a matter of principle he didn’t want to see the girls “labelled” by what their doctor has found.
Young, from the NYS Department of Health, said the cause (or causes) isn’t related to the environment; it isn’t anything a person “catches”; it doesn’t come from exposure to something, or from anything ingested. Nor does the cause stem from prescribed drugs or illicit drugs.
State health officials know what is behind the outbreak, but Young would not disclose it. Yet he tried to reassure parents that it’s safe to send their children to school.
In all, according to Young — though some in the audience disputed the number — at least 11 girls have come down with the “tic manifestations” (Young cautioned against calling it a syndrome).
The doctor’s explanation, and a stone barrier he put up regarding the cause, didn’t go over well with parents or students.
James Dupont Jr. spoke passionately about the need for officials to be more forthcoming about what physicians have found. Dupont complained that although Young said the cause has been diagnosed, nobody’s told him what caused his daughter to develop tics.
After he spoke, he went into hallway and was mobbed by reporters.
“We all have to respect that (keeping medical information private), but I tell you what, if my daughter had a diagnosis and I knew that, as a parent, I would tell you — because I’m not a doctor and I don’t care about HIPPA,” Dupont said. “I care about getting these kids better or finding what’s causing it so it doesn’t get any worse.”
Later, from the back of the auditorium, Dupont called out Young on his repeated insistance that a diagnosis has been completed for the 11 students.
Dupont asked parents in attendance whose daughters had developed tics to raise their hands. More than a half dozen adults raised their hands. Then Dupont asked how many had been told by their daughters’ doctors what caused the tics. Several said they had not been given a diagnosis.
12th January 2012
by: Nina Golgowski
Twelve Americans have been reported infected with a mutating and now possibly human-to-human transmitted form of the H1N1 Swine Flu virus called H3N2v.
An investigation undertaken by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that human infections of these viruses followed contact with swine as well as through ‘limited human-to-human transmission.’
‘While there is no evidence that sustained human-to-human transmission is occurring, all influenza viruses have the capacity to change and it’s possible that this virus may become widespread,’ the CDC explained through their website.
January 11, 2012
By Marie Claire Jalonick
Congressional investigators looking into an outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe linked to 30 deaths last year found that third-party auditors who gave Colorado’s Jensen Farms a “superior” rating just before the outbreak largely ignored government guidance on food safety.
A bipartisan report released Tuesday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee quotes a representative of an auditing company that graded the facility two months before the outbreak as saying audits are not intended to help clients improve food safety standards. Retailers often rely on such audits to make sure food they buy is safe.
Democrats on the panel asked the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on such third-party auditors, who often are the only outside entities to inspect food facilities. A food safety law signed last year will boost FDA inspections of such facilities, but money to carry out those inspections is not guaranteed from Congress.
“Weaknesses in third-party auditors represent a significant gap in the food safety system,” the Democrats said. Republicans on the committee signed the report but did not echo the Democratic call for more oversight.
The FDA currently does not regulate third-party auditors. The food safety law requires the agency to improve third-party audits of food facilities abroad that export to the United States, but does not address domestic audits.
August 5th, 2011
By: Lauren Williamson
Cargill announced a voluntary recall Thursday of 36 million pounds of ground turkey products in connection with a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 77 people nationwide, seven of them in Illinois.
The meat producer has also suspended production of ground turkey products at an Arkansas processing plant until it can determine the source of the contamination, Cargill said in a statement.
Of the seven reported illnesses in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Health said at least one person lives in DuPage County. The other cases were reported in Cass, Cook, Madison, Peoria, Will and Williamson counties.
At least one person in Illinois was hospitalized, the health department said. The ages of those infected range from 3 to 60.
The first illness in Illinois tied to this outbreak was reported March 21, while the most recent case was June 29, the health department said.
Salmonella is a food-borne illness characterized by diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that usually lasts from four to seven days, the health department said. Most people recover on their own, but in some cases the diarrhea is severe enough that the patient requires hospitalization.
Cooking meat such as ground turkey to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees should kill salmonella bacteria, the health department said.
Keep raw poultry and its juices away from ready-to-eat foods such as fruit or already-cooked food. Wash hands and food preparation surfaces thoroughly after they come into contact with raw poultry.
Customers who purchased turkey products on the recall list should bring them back to the store where they bought them for a full refund, Cargill said. Questions can be directed to Cargill’s customer service department at 1-888-812-1646. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has a food safety hot line: 1-888-MPHotline.
June 2nd, 2011
By: Tan Ee Lyn and Steve Gutterman
A deadly outbreak of E.coli centred in Germany and spreading across Europe is caused by a dangerous new strain, Chinese scientists who analyzed the bacteria said.
The scientists said the outbreak, which has killed 17 and made more than 1,500 others ill in at least 10 European countries and is thought to come from vegetables, carried genes making it resistant to several classes of antibiotics.
“This E. coli is a new strain of bacteria that is highly infectious and toxic,” said the scientists at the Beijing Genomics Institute in Shenzhen city in southern China who are collaborating with colleagues in Germany.
World Health Organization spokesperson Aphaluck Bhatiasevi said the WHO was waiting for more information from laboratories. “This strain has never been seen in an outbreak situation before,” he said.
In a worsening trade row prompted by the outbreak, Russia banned imports of all raw vegetables from the European Union, prompting an immediate protest by the European commission.
Moscow had already banned imports of vegetables from Germany and Spain over the outbreak, which German officials originally blamed on contaminated cucumbers imported from Spain before backtracking and apologizing to Madrid.
Gennady Onishchenko, head of the Russian consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor, said the deaths caused by the outbreak “demonstrate that the much-praised European sanitary legislation, which Russia is being urged to adopt, does not work,” Interfax news agency reported.
The new ban would take effect on Thursday morning, he said. The European Commission said it would write to Moscow within hours to say the move was disproportionate.
Spain is threatening legal action over the crisis. It wants compensation for its farmers, who say lost sales are costing them 200 million euros ($287 million) a week and could put 70,000 people out of work.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the European Commission had been slow to act.
“I would have liked a clearer reaction from the Commission, above all to clarify the rules of the game in the European Union on borders,” Zapatero said in an interview on state radio RNE.
“The German federal government should know that it has an overall responsibility to other states in the European Union and we shall ask for very forthright explanations and of course will demand sufficient reparations.”
Reinhard Burger, head of German disease control agency the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), admitted there “still is no indication of a definable source.”
The RKI reported 365 new E.coli cases on Wednesday and said a quarter of them involved a life-threatening complication of a type of E.coli known as Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC).
The World Health Organization said it had also been notified of cases in Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain.
All these cases except two are in people who had recently visited northern Germany or in one case, had contact with a visitor from northern Germany, it said. There are many hospitalized patients, several of them requiring intensive care, including dialysis due to kidney complications.
EU officials have said three cases of E.coli linked to the German outbreak have also been reported in the United States.
EU health experts say they are shocked by the outbreak, which is on a scale never seen before in the region.
Denis Coulombier, head of surveillance and response for the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which monitors disease in the EU, said studies so far show a strong link between disease symptoms and the consumption of fresh vegetables in Germany.
“To have such a high number of severe cases means that probably there was a huge contamination at some junction,” he told Reuters in an interview. “That could have been anywhere from the farm to the fork — in transport, packaging, cleaning, at wholesalers, or retailers — anywhere along that food chain.”
European Union countries exported 594 million euros ($853 million) worth of vegetables to Russia last year while EU imports of vegetables from Russia were just 29 million euros, EU data show. It was not clear what proportion of that was raw.
France, Germany and Poland are the biggest exporters of fruits and vegetables to Russia, an EU spokesman said.
High-end Russian grocery store chain Azbuka Vkusa, which sources more than 40 percent of all its fresh vegetables and fruit from Europe, said it had not received official notice of the ban but was getting ready to dump prohibited items.
“For example, we can replace European tomatoes with the Azeri ones we already have on our shelves,” spokesman Igor Yadroshnikov told Reuters. “Radishes and carrots from Europe can be swapped for Russian ones; squash, eggplants and peppers trucked in from Europe can be replaced with Turkish ones.”
Health experts are advising people traveling to Germany to avoid eating raw tomatoes, cucumbers and salad.
“Anyone returning from Germany with illness including bloody diarrhea should seek urgent medical attention,” Britain’s Health Protection Agency said in a statement.