NEWS SCAN: More Salmonella cases, poultry inspection plan, mystery disease in Vietnam

Apr 20, 2012

Nineteen more cases cited in sushi Salmonella outbreak
The number of people sickened in a multistate Salmonella Bareilly outbreak that authorities have linked to imported ground yellowfin tuna has grown to 160, an increase of 19 from the total reported earlier this week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today. The number of affected states remained at 20, plus the District of Columbia. Five more patients have been hospitalized for their infections, pushing that total to 26. No deaths have been reported. The latest illness onset is Apr 10, according to the CDC, which said the investigation is ongoing, along with surveillance for more cases. The frozen tuna, known as Nakaochi Scrape, was distributed by Moon Marine USA Corp., which has recalled the product. Scrape is tuna back meat that is scraped from the bones and used in sushi, sashimi, ceviche, and other dishes. In the investigation, many of the patients said they got sick after eating sushi, later found to include the affected product, from grocery stores and restaurants.
Apr 20 CDC outbreak update

USDA extends comment period for poultry inspection plan
In response to requests from constituents, the US Department of Agriculture has extended the public comment period for a proposal to change how USDA inspectors monitor food safety in poultry processing plants. The plan calls for Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel to spend less time physically inspecting carcasses and more time monitoring sanitary conditions. The plan will allow processing plants to increase production line speeds and will reduce the number of FSIS inspectors. Critics, including some FSIS inspectors, have said the plan will turn over too much of the safety monitoring responsibility to the companies. The FSIS had set an Apr 26 deadline for commenting on the proposal; the new deadline will be 30 days after the extension notice is published in the Federal Register, the agency announced yesterday. "The notice clarifies answers to questions from several groups; the posting of those answers ensures that the groups and the public have access to the same information," the FSIS announcement said. "The notice also specifies that FSIS is seeking information and data on potential impacts of line speed on worker safety."
Apr 19 FSIS announcement about extension of the comment period
Related statement by Dr. Elizabeth Hagen, USDA under secretary for food safety

Vietnam seeks WHO, CDC help in identifying fatal disease
Vietnam has asked for international help in identifying a mysterious febrile disease that has killed 19 people and sickened 171 others, most of them children and young people, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. The disease begins with a high fever, loss of appetite, and a rash on the hands and feet, according to the story. Le Han Phong, chairman of the People's Committee in Ba To District in Quang Ngai province, said patients who are not treated early can develop liver problems and eventually face multiple-organ failure. He said the disease responds well to treatment if detected early, but the story didn't say what treatment has been used. A Ministry of Health team that visited the area earlier this month couldn't identify the cause of the illness, and the ministry has since asked the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate, the story said. But a WHO spokesman told the AP the agency had not yet received Vietnam's request. The illness first cropped up in April 2011 and died down by October, but a new surge of cases began in March. Close to 100 people remain hospitalized, with 10in critical condition. An Apr 18 story in the Saigon Giai Phong newspaper said patients suffer from stiffness of the limbs ulcers on the hands and feet that look like severe burns.
Apr 18 Saigon Giai Phong story

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