Food Outbreak Scan for Jun 16, 2016

Foodborne illness patterns
Salmonella in turtles

Study finds similarity in outbreak and sporadic foodborne illnesses

Foodborne illness patterns are generally similar when comparing outbreaks with sporadic infections, except in some instances for children, according to an analysis of the characteristics of four bacteria monitored by surveillance sites that are part of the US FoodNet system.

Researchers from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported their findings yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases. The pathogens they explored were Campylobacter, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria, and Salmonella.

They said it's not possible to directly compare exposures for both types of illnesses, but to come up with an estimate they looked at demographic, clinical, temporal, and geographic patterns for outbreak and sporadic illnesses.

For Campylobacter, E coli, and Listeria, outbreak and sporadic illnesses were similar for severity, sex, and age. However, Salmonella illnesses for the two groups were only similar for severity and sex, with lower percentages of outbreak illnesses seen in the youngest age-group, children up to age 3 years. They also found some differences by season in reported Salmonella cases.

The researchers concluded that differences among FoodNet sites in outbreak and sporadic illnesses might reflect differences in reporting practices. They noted that the analysis is limited but still useful—similarities between the two groups wouldn't necessarily imply identical food exposures, but big differences in disease characteristics might point to different food exposures.

The information could be useful for making food safety decisions and monitoring the impact of interventions, they said.
Jun 14 Emerg Infect Dis study


Multistate Salmonella outbreaks caused by turtles increasing, CDC says

An analysis of US salmonellosis outbreaks linked to pet turtles revealed an increasing incidence, high impact on children and Hispanics, and low knowledge of the connection between small turtles and Salmonella risk, according to a report published yesterday in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

CDC researchers detailed 15 multistate outbreaks from 2006 through 2014, comprising 191 illnesses, 156 hospitalizations, and 1 death, in an infant. They ranged from 4 to 135 lab-confirmed cases, with a median of 44. In all outbreaks the median age was less than 10 years.

The year 2012 was especially bad for salmonellosis caused by turtles, the authors noted, with eight outbreaks accounting for 473 illnesses and a total cost of $2.8 million. Among 191 patients for whom information was available, 85 (45%) said they were Hispanic. Turtles with shells less than 4 inches long, which are illegal to sell in the United States, accounted for 124 (88%) of 141 cases.

In addition, only 14 of 95 patients (15%) were aware that reptiles can carry Salmonella. That compares with 20% in a 2007-08 outbreak and 27% in a 2008 outbreak.

Slowing the trend of salmonellosis caused by turtle exposure, especially in children, will take a One Health approach involving human, animal, and environmental health officials as well as the turtle industry and the retail pet industry, the authors conclude. They also underscored the importance of public health awareness campaigns in English and Spanish.
Jun 15 Emerg Infect Dis report

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