FOOD SAFETY NEWS SCAN: Updates on two Salmonella outbreaks, Campylobacter -fighting compound

May 2, 2012

Tuna-linked Salmonella outbreak grows to 258 cases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today that a Salmonella outbreak linked to tainted sushi tuna has sickened 58 more people, raising the total so far to 258. The outbreak has also affected patients in 3 more states (California, Nebraska, and Tennessee), raising that total to 24 plus the District of Columbia. The outbreak involves two different strains, Salmonella Bareilly (247) and Salmonella Nchanga (11). So far 32 people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. The most recent illness onset date reported was Apr 20. The CDC said the investigation is ongoing, and surveillance activities are under way to identify more cases. Federal and state officials have determined that the likely outbreak source is imported scrape yellowfin tuna product distributed by Moon Marine USA Corp., which has recalled the affected products. The tuna was used in sushi, sashimi, and similar products sold in restaurants and stores.
May 2 CDC outbreak update

North Carolina officials seek link to tempeh, Salmonella outbreak strain
The Buncombe County Health Department (BCHD) said yesterday that interviews with patients sickened in a Salmonella Paratyphi B outbreak have revealed that some ate tempeh, a product that has been recalled after routine tests found Salmonella, some had connections to another sick patient, and some who were possibly exposed through other routes. Further tests are under way to determine if the Salmonella found in an Asheville company's tempeh matches the outbreak strain.
May 1 BCHD statement
In another development, the BCHD said today that the number of sick patients is expected to rise beyond the 38 cases reported so far, which is 1 higher than reported yesterday. The BCHD said the outbreak appears to be transitioning to more person-to-person transmission. It warned people with Salmonella Paratyphi B infections to avoid preparing food for others and to follow proper hand washing procedures. It said sick people who work with food, in childcare settings, or in healthcare facilities should stay home from work until lab tests show they are no longer contagious, which can take weeks after diarrhea resolves.
May 2 BCHD statement

Study finds garlic compound that disarms Campylobacter
Researchers have identified a compound in garlic that is 100 times more effective than two frequently used antibiotics for fighting Campylobacter, a finding they say might spur new treatments for raw and processed meats and food preparation surfaces. The group from Washington State University (WSU) published its findings yesterday in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. The team found that the garlic compound diallyl sulfate can easily penetrate C jejuni cells when they are protected by a biofilm that makes them 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics, according to a WSU press release. The compound kills bacterial cells by combining with a sulfur-containing enzyme, shutting down the cell's metabolism. Earlier work from the same group found that diallyl sulfate and other compounds can kill other foodborne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli O157:H7. Coauthor Michael Konkel, PhD, of WSU, said in the press release that the work is still at the basic stages, but the compound may someday be useful for cleaning industrial food equipment and as a preservative in packaged foods such as potato and pasta salads, coleslaw, and deli meats.
May 1 J Antimicrob Chemother abstract
May 1 WSU press release

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