Food Safety Scan for May 26, 2015

E coli in Washington kids
Salmonella in Canada
Rotavirus declines in children
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E coli at fairgrounds in Washington same as outbreak strain

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has announced that samples from 4 of 10 areas tested at the Whatcom County fairgrounds implicated in an outbreak of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 that began sickening people last month matched the outbreak strain, according to a May 22 update.

The Northwest Fairgrounds, located in Lynden, Washington, hosted the Milk Makers Fest Apr 21 through 23, which more than 1,300 children, most of them first graders, attended through school trips. Among the exhibits was a farm animal petting zoo.

To date, 25 people have fallen ill with E coli infections; 14 are children who attended the fair or individuals who worked there, and 9 are secondary cases (ie, they did not attend but are close contacts of those who did). Hospitalization has been necessary in 10 cases, including 4 involving hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially deadly kidney complication. Several more possible cases are under investigation.

A four-person team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been in Washington since May 11 assisting in the investigation. No common source of the outbreak has been determined to date.
May 22 DOH update


Canadian Salmonella outbreak tied to baby chicks from Alberta hatchery

Officials are investigating a 34-case outbreak of Salmonella infection in three Canadian provinces linked to contact with live baby poultry from a hatchery in Alberta, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced yesterday.

Cases so far include 17 in Alberta, 13 in British Columbia, and 4 in Saskatchewan. Illness onsets occurred from Apr 5 to May 12. All case-patients have had contact with baby poultry, most of them from the Alberta hatchery.

The PHAC is leading the human health investigation, and the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is involved in finding the source of the infection; informational letters have been sent to all hatchery customers who ordered live baby poultry from the hatchery from Mar 1 onward.

Young children are at increased risk for salmonellosis, both because of their immature immune systems and because they enjoy holding baby poultry and may put their fingers and other contaminated items near their mouths.

The PHAC is urging consumers to see a physician if they or their children have symptoms of Salmonella (fever, chills, diarrhea, cramping, headache, nausea, vomiting) and to always practice good hygiene (and help children do so) after contact with live poultry as well as after contact with and when cooking eggs and raw poultry meat.

A Reuters story today on the outbreak pointed out that "Trade in agricultural products can be sensitive to detection of salmonella, although Canadian poultry exports are limited due to the country's system of managing supply."
May 25 PHAC notice
May 26 Reuters story


Study: Rotavirus dropped markedly after vaccine introduced

Cases of rotavirus (RV) gastroenteritis in US children have decreased by well over 90% since introduction of RV vaccine in 2006, say results of a study published in the June issue of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

Study results were based on analysis of a large US health insurance claims database that the authors say represents about 3% to 4% of US annual birth cohorts. The researchers identified infants born from January 1, 2002, through July 31, 2011, and grouped them according to whether they had received RV vaccine, had received diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine before introduction of RV vaccine, or had received DTaP but no RV vaccine after the latter was available.

Mean peak incidence of medical encounters for rotavirus in RV-vaccinated children overall was 95% to 96% lower than in DTaP-vaccinated children who did not receive RV vaccine. In addition, the incidence of RV gastroenteritis in the children receiving DTaP was higher before RV vaccine was available (151 cases per 100,000 children) than after its introduction (110 per 100,000), suggesting herd immunity conveyed RV vaccination programs.

A pentavalent human-bovine reassortant RV vaccine (RV5) given to infants in a three-dose series was approved in February 2006 and recommended as a routine vaccination later that year, and a monovalent vaccine (RV1) given in a two-dose series was approved and recommended for routine use in April 2008. The authors note that RV vaccine coverage in 2012 was nearly 70% in the United States.
June Pediatr Infect Dis J study


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