NEWS SCAN: Anthrax site reopens; raw chicken and Listeria ; plague, hantavirus alert

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Apr 19, 2010

New Hampshire site of anthrax exposure is reopened
The Waysmeet Center at the University of New Hampshire has been disinfected and was reopened Apr 16, according to a Foster's Daily Democrat report. The center is home to United Campus Ministry and the apparent source of spores that caused gastrointestinal anthrax in a woman who attended a drum circle event there last December. "We're absolutely certain it's safe to enter," said Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom, New Hampshire's deputy state epidemiologist. The patient recently returned home from the hospital and is "walking around and talking and able to answer questions," Dionne-Odom said, adding that her long-term prognosis is uncertain. Cleanup professionals scrubbed the entire building between March 22 and April 14, finding Bacillus anthracis spores, which cause anthrax, throughout the building, including on electrical outlets and two animal-hide drumheads. The cleanup cost $50,000, and the spores were ruled to be of natural origin. Officials believe the woman swallowed anthrax spores during a "brief aerosolization" event amid "vigorous drumming," Dionne-Odom said.
Apr 17 Foster's Daily Democrat story

Study: Raw chicken identified as source of Listeria at plant
A recent 21-month study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the University of Georgia concluded that incoming raw poultry rather than workers or the environment is the main source of Listeria monocytogenes contamination in commercial cooking plants. The test site was a brand-new cooking facility free of Listeria when first opened. Samples were taken regularly during the study period from potential sources of contamination, including soil and water near the facility, floors in various parts of the plant, incoming air, and raw meat. Listeria was found in floor drains within 4 months of the start of operations. The only tested source that was consistently positive for the organism was the raw meat. Study results can help facilities focus their sanitation efforts to reduce cross-contamination. The study was published in the Journal of Food Protection.
Study abstract
Apr 19 ARS news story

Plague, hantavirus alert issued for New Mexico
People in New Mexico have been warned by state health officials to be on the alert for plague and hantavirus in animals this spring after several confirmed cases of plague were reported in cats and dogs. Plague can spread to pets when they eat infected rodents or are bitten by fleas from the rodents. The disease can then spread to humans through direct contact with infected pets or bites from the pets' fleas. Humans can contract hantavirus through breathing in aerosolized virus from rodent urine, droppings, or saliva. The main carrier is deer mice. Among preventive steps are avoidance of sick and dead rodents and rabbits as well as their habitats, keeping pets from roaming and hunting and use of flea-control products, trapping mice and keeping them out of homes and cabins, not disturbing rodent nests and droppings without good ventilation, and seeing a vet if pets show fever, lethargy, or loss of appetite. Plague symptoms in humans include fever, chills, headache, weakness, and swelling of lymph nodes; early hantavirus symptoms include fever and muscle aches.
Apr 16 release from New Mexico Department of Health

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