NEWS SCAN: Black pepper recall, H5N1 in Egypt, mosquitoes and West Nile virus

Mar 2, 2010

Salmonella investigation prompts black pepper recall
In connection with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into black and red pepper links to a nationwide Salmonella outbreak, an Indianapolis company is recalling its coarse black pepper products. The recall applies to black pepper the company distributed between Oct 19, 2009, and Feb 17. Sizes include 1-pound quart jars,4-pound gallons, and 8-pound buckets that bear the Heartland Foods company logo. Heartland has suspended shipments pending the FDA's investigation. The agency’s investigation into potentially contaminated red and black pepper stems from a Salmonella outbreak linked to some Daniele salami and sausage products that surfaced in late January. The FDA confirmed that samples from two lots of red pepper from Wholesome Spice, one of Daniele's suppliers, yielded Salmonella. Earlier in the outbreak investigation, Rhode Island laboratory officials found Salmonella in two open containers of black pepper that Wholesome Spice supplied to Daniele. So far, 238 people from 44 states have been sickened in the outbreak, according to a recent update from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mar 1 FDA statement

Egypt reports 69 more H5N1 poultry detections
Veterinary authorities in Egypt have detected the H5N1 avian influenza virus in samples from poultry at 69 different locations spanning 19 governorates since Feb 10, the country's Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response(SAIDR) reported today. All but 15 occurred in household birds, and the rest occurred at farms. Surveillance activities or preslaughter testing led to most of the detections, though disease notifications were linked to testing at six farms. Egypt's health ministry has reported 14 human H5N1 infections this year so far, two of them fatal. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed only 9 of those cases.

Study suggests mosquitoes pivotal to West Nile virus spread
Mosquitoes, not birds, may have played a key role in spreading West Nile virus westward across the United States, researchers suggested today in an early online edition of Molecular Ecology. Birds are known hosts of the virus and were thought to have quickly spread the virus into the Great Plains after its first US detection in 1999. However, the authors, from Johns Hopkins University, noted that spread did not follow a leap-frog pattern or follow along migratory bird routes. They analyzed DNA from mosquitoes from 20 western sites and detected three distinct clusters of Culextarsalis mosquito populations. They found extensive gene flow among the populations, indicating widespread movement. However, the gene flow was limited in certain areas, such as the Sonoran desert in Arizona, the eastern Rocky Mountains, and the High Plains plateau, that seem to have hampered movement of the mosquitoes. The investigators also found that the genetic clustering pattern matched the nation's patterns of West Nile virus infections.
Mar 2 Johns Hopkins University press release

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