NEWS SCAN: E coli outbreak, GI anthrax update, avian flu in Texas

Jan 7, 2010

E coli outbreak takes in 16 states
Twenty-one people in 16 states have been sickened in the recent steak-related outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced. Nine victims have been hospitalized, one with hemolytic uremic syndrome. The outbreak began in mid-October and was detected by CDC staff in foodborne-illness test results in mid-December. On Dec 24 the US Department of Agriculture announced that Oklahoma-based National Steak and Poultry was recalling 248,000 pounds of "blade tenderized" steak that had been made into 25 different products. Five national restaurant chains have indicated they had purchased meat that is now part of the recall or closely linked to it: Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Darden Restaurants Inc.'s Olive Garden, Moe's Southwest Grill, Carino's Italian, and KRM Inc., operator of a chain called the 54th Street Grill & Bar.
Jan 6 CDC outbreak notice

New Hampshire woman with GI anthrax improves
A young New Hampshire woman who was in critical condition with a gastrointestinal (GI) anthrax infection has improved enough to be taken out of intensive care, the Associated Press reported today. Investigators believe the woman probably swallowed anthrax spores while attending a drum circle gathering in Durham, N.H., on Dec 4. Tests revealed anthrax spores on two of 64 animal-hide drums used at the gathering and in a sample from an electrical outlet in the building where it was held. The CDC confirmed on Dec 31 that the anthrax strain in those samples matched the strain that infected the patient. Contaminated animal hides from Africa were implicated in two cases of cutaneous anthrax in Connecticut in 2007 and an inhalational anthrax case in a New York City man in 2006. GI anthrax, which is usually contracted by eating raw or undercooked contaminated meat, is nearly unknown in the United States.
Jan 7 AP report

Japan bans Texas poultry after avian flu found
Japan has ceased accepting imports of poultry raised and slaughtered in Texas, based on a finding of a possible low-pathogenic avian flu virus in a live-bird market associated with a duck flock. Bloomberg News reported today that the Texas Animal Health Commission restricted movement of about 1,000 birds following the identification of a "weak positive" at the market during routine surveillance. Subsequently, the Japanese government acted to refuse any imports of poultry or eggs from the state, dating back to a slaughter or collection date of Dec 1.
Jan 6 Bloomberg News story
USDA notice of import restriction

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