News Scan for Aug 22, 2017

Saudi MERS case
Candida auris uptick
Tainted sprouts

Saudi Arabia reports new MERS case linked to camels

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) announced a new case of MERS-CoV yesterday, in a patient who had contact with camels, a known risk factor for contracting the virus.

A 48-year-old Saudi man from Al Aflaj in the central part of the country was diagnosed as having MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) and is in stable condition after presenting with symptoms of the virus. According to the MOH, his possible source of infection was direct contact with camels.

Saudi Arabia now has now recorded 1,702 MERS-CoV cases, 690 of them fatal, since the first detection in humans in 2012. Eleven people are still receiving treatment for their infections.
Aug 21 MOH report


CDC reports that Candida auris cases now top 100

The number of Candida auris cases in the United States has risen to 112, according to a case count update yesterday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The multidrug-resistant fungus has now been identified in healthcare facilities in nine states, with the vast majority of cases in New York (77) and New Jersey (23). The count reflects the number clinical cases of C auris infection, which rose from 98 in July. The pathogen has been isolated from an additional 120 patients from healthcare facilities in four of the affected states, meaning those patients were colonized with the fungus but did not show clinical signs of infection.

The CDC warned healthcare facilities about C auris in June 2016 based on reports from other countries about severe invasive infections caused by the fungus, which has shown increasing resistance to all three major classes of antifungal drugs. This type of resistance has not been seen in other Candida species. C auris can also persist on hospital surfaces and appears capable of spreading between patients.

In patients with compromised immune systems, C auris can cause serious invasive infections that affect the bloodstream, heart, brain, ear,            and bones. The CDC estimates that more than 1 in 3 patients with an invasive C auris infection die, and reports from other countries estimate mortality rates as high as 50%.

The CDC encourages all laboratory staff who identify C auris to notify state or local public health authorities and CDC officials.
Aug 21 CDC case count update

Report: FDA finds sprout contamination from a number of sources

Citing 2014-2016 data, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today published a report on sprout contamination, noting that 14 (1.7%) of 825 samples from across the country tested positive for Salmonella or Listeria, with most of the positive samples coming from four sprouting operations.

The agency tested bean, alfalfa, and other sprouts for pathogens because, from 1996 to July of last year. sprouts were implicated in 46 foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States, which caused at least 2,474 illnesses, 187 hospitalizations, and 3 deaths. Officials tested for Salmonella, Listeria, and Escherichia coli O157:H7, three common food outbreak bacteria.

Of the 825 samples collected, 74% were from growers, 12% from distributors, and 14% from retailers. Scientists collected samples in 37 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

All positive samples were from production sites, with 6 samples testing positive for Salmonella and 8 for Listeria. Of the Salmonella samples, 4 were from pre-sprout seeds, 1 from the finished product, and 1 from spent irrigation water. For Listeria, 1 sample was from seeds, 6 from finished product, and 1 from spent irrigation water. No samples tested positive for E coli O157:H7, but the FDA did not test seeds for E coli because of test limitations.

Ten of the 14 positive samples were collected from 4 growers, 2 in the Southwest, 1 in the Midwest, and 1 in the West. The other samples were collected from 4 other sprouting operations.

The  executive summary of the report concludes, "The fact that the agency found multiple positive samples at some of these operations underscores the need for sprouting operations to comply with the agency’s Produce Safety Regulation (published November 2015), which seeks to prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness and improve sprout safety."

In addition, "The FDA will continue to consider microbial contamination of sprouts and how best to reduce it. . . . Going forward, the FDA intends to inspect sprouting operations to ensure they are complying, as applicable, with the Produce Safety Rule, which includes new requirements for sprouts growers."
Aug 22 FDA sprout sampling report

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