NEWS SCAN: E coli O157 vs non-O157, prison Salmonella outbreak, scarlet fever drop

Jul 18, 2011

Study: E coli cases of all types dropping; non-O157 strains outnumber O157
A long-term study of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) data from Connecticut shows that both E coli O157 and non-O157 infections decreased from 2000 through 2009 and that non-O157 strains as a group were more common than O157. Starting in 2000, Connecticut labs were required to submit to the sate lab all clinical samples that tested positive for Shiga toxin (ST), according to the report in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Through 2009, ST testing detected 392 STEC infections, 58% of which were non-O157. Nationally the number of O157 infections has been decreasing while non-O157 cases have been increasing, but the increase is probably a result of the growing use of ST testing, which detects all STEC strains, the authors note. After adjusting their data for the increasing use of ST testing, they estimated that the rates of non-O157 STEC infection "show a decrease comparable to that for O157 STEC infections." They estimate the overall decline in STEC infections over the decade at about 34%. They also found that O157 is associated with the most severe disease and that O157 and the top four non-O157 serogroups—O111, O103, O26, and O45—made up a stable percentage of all STEC isolates over the decade.
August Clin Infect Dis abstract

Salmonellosis in Pennsylvania prison
A Salmonella outbreak involving more than 300 inmates at a Pennsylvania high-security federal prison in late June has been linked to tainted chicken, according to an Associated Press (AP) story. A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons confirmed that chicken served in fajitas on Jun 25 was the cause, says the story. The chicken was cooked and prepared in the prison kitchen, which was closed temporarily and cleaned as a precaution; stored food was thrown away. The supplier of the chicken and source of contamination have not been identified, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health is investigating. No new illnesses have been reported since Jul 2. A Seattle law firm that specializes in foodborne illness litigation has received phone calls from relatives of inmates and is investigating. The prison, US Penitentiary-Canaan, is about 125 miles north of Philadelphia and houses about 1,400 male inmates in the high-security area and about 125 in a minimum-security satellite camp.
Jul 15 AP story

Hong Kong reports drop in scarlet fever cases
The number of new scarlet fever infections in Hong Kong dropped over the last few days, with 28 new cases reported, compared with 81 new cases during the region's previous reporting period, according to a statement today from the Centre for Health Protection (CHP). The patients range in age from 2 to 16 years. The new cases push the outbreak total to 923. No new deaths were reported, keeping the fatality level at 2. Only one new outbreak was reported, which occurred at a nursery school. Hong Kong's summer school session ended on Jun 30, and classes resume on Aug 23, according to a school Web site.
Jul 18 CHP statement
Hong Kong schools Web site

This week's top reads