Saturday, May 10, 2008

Recalls and Outbreaks: News Briefs

After several days of focusing on Myanmar, it's time to catch up on what's been happening around the United States.

R&R Alsatian Sausage and Products of Castroville has recalled beef jerky sold in bulk quantities on or after April 25th. Tests conducted by the Texas Department of State Health Services detected Listeria monocytogenes in the jerky. The testing was part of a routine sampling program, and no illnesses have been reported. Customers who purchased beef jerky from the Castroville location should either destroy it or return it to the company.

The State Department of Health Services (SDHS) is investigating a food poisoning outbreak, which is linked to a Relay for Life event that took place in Shelby County (east Texas) on May 2nd. More than 36 of the 450 attendees at the fund raiser later complained of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and fever. KTRE (Channel 9) in east Texas reported yesterday that the illness was diagnosed as Salmonella, but SDHS has not confirmed either the food or the microbe at the source of the outbreak.

The San Diego hepatitis A outbreak has now expanded to include 22 victims – 10 women and 12 men. There is still no news on the source of the virus. All of the victims were customers of the Chipotle Mexican Grill in La Mesa, CA. None of the 26 restaurant employees tested positive for a recent hepatitis infection.

Norovirus has made an appearance at Gage Elementary School in Rochester, MN. At least 13 students complained of nausea, severe vomiting, and diarrhea, keeping the school janitors busy. The Olmsted County Public Health department has sent out letters to parents in the school district, warning of the norovirus outbreak.

New York
Two Brooklyn neighborhoods have been alerted to an outbreak of Shigella that is making the rounds of the Orthodox Jewish residents. The communities of
Borough Park and Williamsburg have experienced more than 150 cases so far this year. The New York City Department of Health is working with community leaders and rabbis to raise awareness of the disease and help to contain the outbreak. Shigella is found in the stools of infected persons and can be spread through fecal contamination of food or water. The infection can spread rapidly in schools and daycare centers.

The Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco was the venue for a Norovirus outbreak last week. According to city public health officials, about 70 people – all but 3 of them staff members – fell ill between April 30th and May 8th. The health department is working with Moscone management to determine the origin of the outbreak and make cleaning recommendations. Scheduled events are going on as planned. If you are attending an event at the Moscone Convention Center, please take extra precautions to wash your hands thoroughly and often – especially before eating.

New Jersey
Seventeen cases of Salmonella have now been confirmed in the Princeton University outbreak. An additional 70 cases of gastrointestinal illness are being investigated, but have not yet been confirmed as Salmonella, according to the University. Health officials are investigating, but have not yet identified the source of the outbreak. Nevertheless, the school has stopped serving some produce items, and has closed a salad bar and a Mexican food station in the dining center.

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