NEWS SCAN: More on Salmonella in cantaloupe, Colorado pertussis, egg guidance, food safety for the elderly

Aug 20, 2012

CDC releases more details about cantaloupe-linked Salmonella outbreak
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued its initial report on a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana that has sickened 141 people in 20 states and led to the death of two people from Kentucky. According to previous reports from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state health officials, epidemiologic investigations and lab tests by Kentucky authorities on retail cantaloupe have linked the illnesses to the Indiana-grown cantaloupe. In an Aug 17 statement, the CDC said an Indiana farm is working with its distributors to remove their cantaloupe from the market and has agreed to stop distributing its cantaloupe for the rest of the growing season. The CDC said in patients for whom information is available, illness onset ranges from Jul 7 to Aug 4; age ranges from younger than 1 to 92 years, with a median of 49; and 55% are female. The CDC said the Salmonella pattern has been seen in PulseNet before and typically causes about 10 to 15 cases per month. Preliminary tests suggest that the strain is susceptible to commonly prescribed antibiotics. The CDC said more surveillance efforts are under way to identify additional cases linked to the outbreak and to determine if other types of melons are involved. The CDC is urging consumers to look at cantaloupe labels to determine where the fruit is grown and to discard cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana. The farm hasn't been publically identified yet and no recall notice has been issued, but as a precaution Wal-Mart is contacting its stores with instructions to remove cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana, according to an Aug 18 Bloomberg News story. Company spokeswoman Dianna Gee told Bloomberg that Wal-Mart doesn't have an indication or confirmation that any of the contaminated cantaloupes were sold at their stores.
Aug 17 CDC outbreak announcement
Aug 18 Bloomberg News story

Colorado reports pertussis epidemic
Colorado's top health official today issued an alert to the public about an epidemic of pertussis cases in the state. Chris Urbina, MD, chief medical officer and executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in a statement also urged residents to get vaccinated against the disease. So far in 2012, 715 pertussis cases have been reported in Colorado, dramatically higher than the average 158 cases reported from 2007 to 2011 for this time in the year. The CDPHE said infection rates are highest in infants younger than 6 months, followed by older babies and children ages 11 to 14 years old. Many counties are reporting cases, with five reporting the largest numbers: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, and Jefferson. No deaths have been reported. Symptoms in adolescents and adults may be relatively mild, and people may not realize they're infected, the CDPHE said, adding that these individuals can still spread the disease to others, a particular concern for babies who are too young to be immunized and youngsters who don't have all their doses. Other parts of the country are reporting rising numbers of pertussis cases. In April, Washington state declared a pertussis epidemic, and in July federal officials said the pace of cases is on track to reach the highest count in decades. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also noted an illness spike in 13- and 14-year-olds that it said could suggest waning vaccine immunity, which could be playing a role in rising pertussis activity across the nation.
Jul 19 CIDRAP News story "CDC: Pertussis numbers suggest vaccine protection gap"

FDA issues new guidance for shell egg producers
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today released a new guidance resource for egg producers that is geared toward answering a host of questions about new egg safety rules. The FDA issued the egg safety rule in 2009 to prevent Salmonella Enteritidis in shell eggs, and the final provisions that address production, storage, and transportation went into effect for intermediate-sized farms in July. In December 2011, the FDA issued final guidance to help egg producers follow the new rules. The new 14-page guidance document, issued by the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), addresses several questions the FDA has received from egg producers, such as whether and when they must comply. The document covers questions about prevention measures, sampling and testing, facility registration, and enforcement. The agency said it also has plans to release draft guidance for producers who provide layer hens with outdoor access.
Aug 20 FDA CFSAN constituent update
Aug 20 FDA CFSAN guidance
Dec 29, 2011, CIDRAP News story, "FDA issues final egg safety rule guidance"

Gaps in food safety knowledge in older adults' care providers
Improvements in the food safety and foodborne disease education of healthcare providers who see older adults is needed and would could have an important public health impact, says a study published recently in Educational Gerontology. Eight telephone-based focus groups organized by type of provider were conducted from March to May 2010 to determine participants' knowledge of foodborne illness risk factors and pathogens by having them discuss their training in foodborne disease and food safety, their knowledge of food safety practices including those recommended specifically for older people, the importance they placed on educating older adults about food safety, and their suggestions for disseminating food safety information to older adults and to those providing care for this population. The groups included physicians; nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants; home health providers; and relative caregivers who worked with people 60 years of age and older. Upon analysis of the data collected, the authors found that a gap existed between older adults' trust in caregivers as a source of information and providers' training, knowledge, and in some cases willingness to provide food safety information to this population. The nonphysician groups were most receptive to improving their own knowledge and passing it on to the people they care for. Among the recommendations for dissemination of educational materials were distribution of food safety pamphlets and information sheets in doctor's offices, senior centers, grocery stores, and other locations as well as classes at senior centers.
Aug 14 Educ Gerontol article first page

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