NEWS SCAN: Food recalls, ready-to-eat food safety, falconer flu risk, meningococcal vaccine in kids, hemorrhagic fever diagnosis, chikungunya in France

Apr 25, 2011

Sampling prompts food recalls for Salmonella, Listeria
Positive findings on routine microbiological tests recently triggered four food recalls, three involving fresh produce and one that applies to smoked salmon, according to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall notices. No illnesses have been linked to any of the recalls. Jonathan Sprouts, based in Rochester, Mass., first recalled certain shipments of six types of its alfalfa sprouts because of possible Salmonella contamination on Apr 19, and then expanded the action to all sell-by dates and product codes 3 days later. The company's sprout products were distributed to 11 northeastern states. The potential contamination was identified in routine sampling conducted through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Microbiological Data Program.
Apr 22 FDA sprout recall notice update
Also on Apr 22, L&M Companies, Inc., based in Raleigh, N.C., recalled one lot (1,590 cartons) of cucumbers that were sold to wholesalers in five states and a retailer with distribution centers in four more, after random FDA testing detected Salmonella on products that were stored in a cooler at a Florida produce company.
Apr 22 FDA recall notice
Meanwhile, Satur Farms, in Cutchogue, N.Y., on Apr 20 recalled 138 pounds of cilantro after routine USDA tests detected Salmonella. Further tests were under way to determine if the seeds are the source of the contamination. The cilantro was sold to food service customers in New York City.
Apr 20 FDA recall notice
In another development, Woodsmoke Provisions, LLC, based in Atlanta, recalled 40 pounds of smoked salmon on Apr 18 after the Florida Department o Agriculture found possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination in routine sampling. The 4-ounce packages of Fresh Market Signature Collection Atlantic Smoked Salmon were distributed to The Fresh Market, Inc., stores in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Apr 18 FDA recall notice

USDA draft targets pathogen reduction in ready-to-eat meat and poultry
The USDA today released draft guidelines to help small and very small meat and poultry manufacturers reduce bacterial contamination in ready-to-eat foods. The USDA said in a press release that the guidance doesn't reflect new requirements for the two groups, but will assist them in meeting current Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulations. Al Almanza, administrator of the FSIS, said in the press release that the guidelines highlight the recommended best practices for producing food items that consumers don't usually cook before eating. "Our goal it to help industry apply some of the recent lessons we have learned," he said. The USDA said several foodborne illness–related recalls in 2010 prompted the USDA to improve its guidance. For example, it said in some instances pathogens were introduced—such as during spice or sauce application—after products were processed. The USDA is seeking public comments on the draft document, available on its Web site, over the next 60 days and will update the guidance based on the feedback it receives. The public can submit comments electronically at or through the mail.
Apr 25 USDA press release
Apr 22 USDA guidance

Study suggests avian flu risk low in falconers
The risk of contracting avian influenza is low in falconry, according to a field study that involved a group of German falconers, their falcons, and the birds' avian prey. The study, which appeared an Apr 23 early online edition of Virology Journal, followed 43 falconers during two hunting seasons from 2006 through 2008 in an area that included 11 of the country's 16 states. The falconers collected tracheal and cloacal swabs from 1,084 prey birds. Researchers took blood samples from 54 falcons, as well as the falconers. Researchers found evidence of avian influenza exposure (H6, H9, or H13) in 4.1% of gulls and 3.8% of ducks. The remaining prey birds tested negative, as did the falcons. Testing done on the falconers showed all had been exposed to influenza A, with further tests negative for H7, H7, H6, H9, and H13. Researchers concluded that though H5N1 has been detected in falcons before, the risk of avian influenza transmission to those who handle falcons and their prey appears to be low.
Apr 23 Virol J abstract

FDA approves meningococcal vaccine for children under 2 years old
The FDA recently approved the use of the Menactra vaccine to prevent certain forms of invasive meningococcal disease in children 9 through 23 months old, which the agency said will protect some of the children most vulnerable to the disease. The vaccine—previously approved for people aged 2 through 55 years—is designed to prevent meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, C, Y and W-135, the FDA said in an Apr 22 announcement. N meningitidis is a leading cause of meningitis in young children, and the highest rate of meningococcal disease occurs in children under 1 year of age, the agency said. The safety of Menactra in children as young as 9 months was evaluated in four clinical trials in which more than 3,700 participants received the vaccine, the FDA reported. The most common adverse events in children who received the vaccine at 9 months and 12 months were injection-site tenderness and irritability, the statement said. Occurrence of fever was comparable to the pattern seen with other vaccines routinely recommended for young children. Menactra, made by Sanofi Pasteur, is given as a two-dose series beginning at 9 months, 3 months apart.
Apr 22 FDA press release

Tick-borne hemorrhagic fever may have longer incubation than thought
A small subset of people bitten by carrier ticks may experience a much longer incubation period before developing Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) than previously thought, according to a study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. Turkish researchers analyzed data from 825 patients with CCHF from a single hospital from 2007 through 2010 and found that 312 had "undoubtedly" received a tick bite. Of those, 12 had an incubation period longer than 12 days, the previously reported maximum. In those lab-confirmed cases, the incubation period ranged from 13 to 53 days, with a mean of 24 days. The authors conclude, "Physicians serving in endemic regions should be aware of these longer incubation periods after a tick bite. It is suggested that they perform more follow-ups on clinically and serologically highly suspected patients than they currently do."
Apr 21 Int J Infec Dis abstract

Indigenous chikungunya cases reported in France
A new report in Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) describes two indigenous (autochthonous) cases of chikungunya virus infection in young girls in southeastern France. The two girls, who live in Var department and were close friends, got sick at the same time, 3 days after they had spent the night at the same home and reported getting many mosquito bites. Neither girl had recently traveled to an area with endemic chikungunya. But their illnesses occurred about 3 weeks after another young girl, who lived 2.5 km from one of the patients, got sick with chikungunya shortly after a visit to India. Her case was classified as imported. None of the patients suffered complications, but all three had persistent weakness and joint pain 3 months after the acute phase of illness. A molecular study of isolates from the imported case and one of the other two cases showed that both belonged to a cluster closely related to strains from India, suggesting that the isolate from the autochthonous case might have been derived from an Indian strain introduced by the other patient. Following intensive local mosquito-control measures, no further cases were indentified in active surveillance for 45 days after the autochthonous cases. The authors say reinforced surveillance for both chikungunya and dengue virus infections should become a higher priority in Europe.
Apr 22 EID report

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