NEWS SCAN: More recalled ground turkey, cantaloupe linked to listeriosis, USDA E coli testing, flu vaccine effectiveness, congenital malaria

Sep 12, 2011

Positive Salmonella sample prompts recall of more ground turkey
Cargill is recalling 185,000 more pounds of ground turkey products produced at its Cargill Meat Solutions facility in Springdale, Ark., after tests on a product sample suggested they may be contaminated with the same strain of Salmonella Heidelberg that earlier this summer was linked to a multistate outbreak that has sickened at least 111 people in 31 states, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced yesterday. So far the company and the FSIS aren't aware of any illnesses linked to the latest batch of recalled meat. Recalled products include 16-ounce chubs, fresh ground turkey trays, and fresh ground turkey patties that were produce on Aug 23, 24, 30, and 31 and bear the establishment number "P-963" inside the USDA inspection mark. They were distributed nationally to retail outlets. The sample that tested positive was collected on Aug 24, and the firm is recalling products from Aug 30 based on pending positive match samples. The FSIS said the strain that prompted the latest recall is identical to the one that led to the Aug 3 recall, including the same XbaI and BlnI pulse-field gel electrophoresis patterns. An FSIS incident investigation team collected samples after the earlier recall. On Aug 25 Cargill announced that it had asked a panel of three experts to review the ground turkey safety procedures at the plant.
Sep 11 FSIS recall release
Aug 26 CIDRAP News Scan

Cantaloupe suspected in multistate Listeria outbreak
Colorado health officials, who have been investigating an unusually high number of Listeria cases over the past few months, announced recently that nine cases are linked to a multistate outbreak and that preliminary investigation findings suggest cantaloupe is the likely source. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said in a Sep 9 statement that it initially reported 13 Listeria cases, but only 9 are linked to a multistate outbreak, which includes 2 possible cases in Texas and 1 in Nebraska. In the 4 other cases, lab results are pending or involvement in the outbreak has been ruled out. All of Colorado's listeriosis patients were hospitalized. Two deaths were reported, but one was not among the 9 outbreak cases. Colorado's confirmed cases are from nine different counties. Patient ages range from the 30s to the 90s, with an average age of 84 and the majority of patients women. The CDPHE said Colorado typically sees only about 10 listeriosis cases each year. It added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is coordinating a multistate investigation along with the Food and Drug Administration, the USDA, and state and local health partners. Dr Chris Urbina, chief medical officer and executive director of the CDPHE, said in the statement that though cantaloupe is suspected and not yet confirmed as the outbreak source, people at high risk for Listeria infections, such as older people and those with underlying medical conditions, should avoid it and other possible sources of Listeria, including deli meats that aren't reheated to 165ºF, refrigerated pate or meat spreads, refrigerated smoked seafood, and soft cheeses such as queso fresco unless made with pasteurized milk.
Sep 9 CDPHE press release

USDA stops testing some ready-to-eat meat products for E coli O157
The USDA says it has stopped testing cooked meat patties and certain types of ready-to-eat sausages for Escherichia coli O157:H7 because none of the products have tested positive since 1994. The decision covers dry and semi-dry fermented sausages and fully cooked meat patties, both domestic and imported, the FSIS said in a Sep 9 notice. The agency will continue to test these products for Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. More than 10,000 samples of the products have been tested since 1994 without a positive finding, the FSIS said. Sampling resources previously used on these products will be used to increase testing for E coli O157:H7 in raw products, the announcement said.
Sep 9 FSIS notice

Internet survey suggests 50% effectiveness for seasonal 2010-11 flu vaccine
Based solely on input from an online survey, a team of UK and Italian researchers determined that the 2010-11 flu vaccine was 52% effective in preventing influenza-like illness (ILI), according to a study today in Epidemiology and Infection. Analyzing data from 647 patients (62% female) who provided information on ILI and vaccination to the UK's Internet-based FluSurvey, the researchers found that vaccine effectiveness was 52% against ILI (95% confidence interval [CI], 27%-68%). For comparison, VE for those who received both the 2010 seasonal vaccine and the monovalent 2009 H1N1 vaccine was 59% (95% CI, 27%-77%), and for those who received the 2010 vaccine alone it was 46% (95% CI, 8%-68%). They write that these data are consistent with the results of a randomized controlled trial and other studies on VE. Among the study limitations that the authors list are self-selection of participants, which led to under-representation of younger and older age-groups, and a lack of data on lab-confirmed influenza. They note, though, that a Web-based system allows estimates of VE in almost real time.
Sep 12 Epidemiol Infect abstract

Combo artemisinin therapy lowers rate of congenital malaria
Treating uncomplicated malaria with artemisinin-combination therapy in the second or third semester of pregnancy dropped the rate of infection in newborns markedly, according to a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Indonesian, Australian, and UK researchers looked at the transmission rate from mother to baby among 4,878 pregnant women at a hospital in Papua, Indonesia, from April 2005 through January 2010. Malaria occurred in 38 of 4,884 live births (0.8%). However, introducing dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for uncomplicated malaria in the second or third trimester of pregnancy dropped the incidence of congenital malaria from 3.2% to 0.2%.
Sep 9 J Infect Dis abstract

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