FOOD SAFETY NEWS SCAN: Latest Listeria numbers, ground turkey Salmonella cases, UK E coli outbreak

Sep 30, 2011

Listeria outbreak expands to 84 cases, 15 deaths
Twelve more illnesses and two more deaths have been linked to a multistate Listeria monocytogenes outbreak involving Jensen Farms cantaloupe, boosting the total to 84 cases and 15 fatalities, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today. Arkansas and Alabama reported their first outbreak cases, raising the number of affected states to 19. Earlier this week the CDC said two women were pregnant when they got sick, and in today's update it said health officials are monitoring their outcomes. Other states and cities are still investigating if their listeriosis cases are linked to the tainted cantaloupe, the CDC said, adding that it expects to keep getting more reports in the weeks ahead, given the disease's long incubation time, which can last as long as 2 months. The CDC warned that the contaminated cantaloupes could still be in consumers' homes and advised consumers who had Jensen Farms cantaloupe in their homes to take extra precautions, because the pathogen can remain and grow in the refrigerator after the product has been discarded. It advised washing refrigerator walls and shelves, cutting boards, and countertops, then sanitizing them with a solution of 1 tablespoon of chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of hot water.
Sep 30 CDC outbreak update

Ground turkey Salmonella infections climb to 129
Ten more patients have been sickened in a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to ground turkey, raising the case total to 129, the CDC said yesterday. Connecticut and Vermont reported their first cases, raising the number of affected states to 34. For 88 patients with available information, 33 (38%) were hospitalized. One previously announced death has been reported. The illnesses have been linked to two closely related multidrug-resistant strains of Salmonella Heidelberg, which can increase the risk of hospitalization and treatment failure in affected patients. On Sep 11 Cargill Meat Solutions Corp, based in Springdale, Ark., recalled 185,000 pounds of ground turkey after tests on a sample produced Aug 24 yielded the outbreak strain. On Sep 27 the US Department of Agribulture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) confirmed that that the isolate from that sample is antibiotic resistant.
Sep 29 CDC outbreak update
Sep 27 FSIS notice

UK reports 250 E coli cases, 1 death linked to leeks, potatoes
The British public found out this week that its Health Protection Agency (HPA) has been investigating for 6 months an Escherichia coli outbreak that began last December and sickened 250 people and killed one. The agency hadn't publicized the outbreak because until recently it hadn't determined the source, which is the handling of raw leeks and potatoes at home, according to a story from The Guardian yesterday. Of the 250 patients, 100 were 16 or younger and 74 required hospitalization, including 4 who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious kidney complication, The Guardian reported. The outbreak strain is a rare type of O157 called phage type 8. Dr Bob Adak, an HPA expert and head of the outbreak investigation, said in an HPA release today, "Our study showed a statistically significant association with raw loose leeks and potatoes from sacks but these vegetables may not be the only source of contamination. . . . In this outbreak, which is now over, the vegetables could have carried traces of contaminated soil. It is possible people caught the infection from cross contamination in storage, inadequate washing of loose vegetables, insufficient hand washing after handling the vegetables or by failing to thoroughly clean kitchen equipment, utensils or surfaces after preparing the vegetables." Adak added, "Now that we have established a statistically significant association with the handling of certain loose vegetables, it warrants us sharing these findings with the public, to enable them to take the necessary steps to minimise their risk of food poisoning."
Sep 29 Guardian article
Sep 30 HPA press release

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