NEWS SCAN: H5N1 hits Bhutan, cruise ship outbreak, E coli admission, Salmonella cases

Feb 23, 2010

Bhutan reports first H5N1 outbreak
Agriculture officials in Bhutan today reported the country's first H5N1 avian influenza outbreak, which struck free-range chickens in a village near the southwestern border with India, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The outbreak, located in Chhuka province, began Feb 18, killing 8 birds and sickening 14 others. The remaining 28 birds on the premises were culled. The virus's presence in samples from the birds was confirmed by the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal, India, and at the National Institute of Animal Health in Bangkok, Thailand. Bhutan's report raises the number of countries that have been hit by H5N1 outbreaks to 63.
Feb 23 OIE report

Cruise ship has big norovirus-like outbreak
A Celebrity Cruises ship sailing the Caribbean has been overwhelmed with an outbreak of illness that may be norovirus, according to the USA Today blog Cruise Log. About 23% of the Celebrity Mercury’s 1,800 passengers have developed upset stomachs, vomiting, and diarrhea during the 11-night round-trip voyage from Charleston, S.C. The cruise line dispatched an extra doctor and nurse to meet the vessel mid-cruise, and ship crew members have begun the aggressive cleaning needed to keep the bug at bay. Such outbreaks were once common but have become less so; there were 34 in 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but only 13 last year.
Feb 23 Cruise Log post

Meat company acknowledges E coli in suit
The agribusiness conglomerate Cargill Inc. has acknowledged in a court filing that E coli O157:H7 in ground beef that it packaged caused illness in a Minnesota woman, according to the St. Cloud Times. The woman, Stephanie Smith, developed hemolytic uremic syndrome after eating a hamburger in September 2007 and became paralyzed from the waist down. Her attorney, food-liability lawyer Bill Marler, said it is the first time he has seen an admission of liability at such an early stage of court proceedings. The lawsuit is expected to go to trial this summer.

CDC reports more Salmonella cases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it has received three more reports of patients who were sickened in a national Salmonella outbreak linked to sausage products, raising the total to 233, according to a Feb 18 update. The number of affected states remained at 44, the latest illness onset is now Jan 31, and one more patient has been hospitalized. In other developments, the company that produced the salami and sausage products that have been recalled in connection with the outbreak said it detected the bacteria in sealed containers of red pepper from two suppliers, the Washington Post reported on Feb 19. Daniele Inc's initial recalls involved products that contained potentially contaminated black pepper. The latest recall came on Feb 17, when the company reported finding evidence of Salmonella in red pepper it used in its products. The company's test results await confirmation by federal laboratories, the Post report said. One of the two companies that reportedly supplied the red pepper said federal investigators had not found Salmonella in its products; the other company did not respond to calls.
Feb 18 CDC Salmonella outbreak update
Feb 19 Washington Post story
Feb 17 CIDRAP News story

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