Woman, 23, dies in St. Louis after contracting E. coli

A 23-year-old is dead after she got E. coli, possibly after eating at a local restaurant. Her family is now asking for an investigation into the restaurant.

KMOV reports Ciera Brookfield told her family that she felt sick after eating at a Chinese restaurant in Overland, near St. Louis, Missouri.

Ciera was just 23 when she passed away on Thursday. Her family says the Ladue Horton Watkins High School grad got sick after eating at Hon’s Wok, which is next door to where she worked at Woofie’s on Woodson Road.

“She came home about 8 that night. She came in, she laid down on the couch, she said ‘mom, I think I have food poisoning,'” said Donna Clark, Ciera’s mother. “I went to work, came back and she was very frantic, saying that she thought it was really bad.”

That was last Thursday. By Friday night Ciera was in the ICU. Mercy Hospital confirms that she had E. coli. But Ciera also suffered from Sickle Cell disease, which made the infection worse.

“It went to her blood stream and for a person with sickle cell, it’s harder to fight it,” Clark said.

As Ciera’s family grieves, they want the St. Louis County Health Department to investigate the Chinese restaurant.

“We don’t want anybody else to die like my daughter died,” Clark said.

But it’s important to note that the CDC says E. coli symptoms usually appear three to four days after someone contracts the bacteria but that it can be as short as one day.

The St. Louis County Health Department cannot confirm that Ciera contracted E. coli at Hon’s Wok. The department is investigating a complaint there but says, at this point, it does not include E. coli.

“We’ve been open over 10 years and [nothing] like this [has happened] before,” said Thao Vuong, Hon’s Wok manager.


Calif. lettuce positive for E. coli O157:H7 in Canada

Canadians are being warned by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency not to eat Tanimura & Antle brand Romaine Lettuce from Salinas, Calif. because it may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The affected product, Tanimura & Antle brand Romaine Lettuce, produce of USA, is sold in a plastic package containing 1 head of lettuce. The package bears the UPC0 27918�ى The affected product was sold at retail from August 8, 2012 through August 17, 2012.

This product has been distributed in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Nunavut and Yukon.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.


NC cantaloupe grower lacked audits, traceability; all melons recalled

Food safety needs to be marketed at retail, otherwise consumers have no idea what they are buying.

Hucksters and posers can gas on about how their food is natural, sustainable, local and comes from a farmer I can look in the eye, but I’d rather know the food safety program behind the fruit and veg, along with the data to verify things are working.

Few hawkers, at a market or a supermarket, can answer those questions.

Consumers are left with faith-based food safety.

That faith usually rests with buyers at supermarkets and retailers.

So when it was revealed that Burch Farms had to recall the entire season’s worth of rock and honeydew melon because listeria was found and then it was discovered they had never had a food safety audit — a standard but inadequate minimal requirement to secure retail space — I wondered, who buys this stuff?

“The cantaloupes and honeydew melons involved in this expanded recall were sold to distributors between June 23rd and July 27th, in the following states: FL, GA, IL, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, and VA, VT and WV. The melons may have further been distributed to retail stores, restaurants and food service facilities in other states.”

Complete distribution details on the melons are not available, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Everyone buys it.

The Packer reports today that Listeria contamination at the Burch Farms melon packing facility in Faison, N.C., was confirmed on Aug. 13.

Company spokeswoman Teresa Burch said it has not had its cantaloupe operation audited by a third party for food safety practices, and although the company has traceability programs for other items, there is none in place for its melons.

Burch Equipment LLC, doing business as Burch Farms, originally recalled about 5,200 cantaloupes July 28 after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Microbiological Data Program found listeria on one melon at retail during a random sampling.

The grower expanded the recall to include 188,900 cantaloupes Aug. 3 and corrected the variety from athena to caribbean golds. That expansion came after the FDA revealed it had found “unsanitary conditions” at the Burch packing shed.

Owner Jimmy Burch Sr. said he uses the sanitizer SaniDate in his packing facility’s water. According to the Burch Farms website, the operations are audited by PrimusLabs.

PrimusLabs in-house counsel Ryan Fothergill confirmed that the company has audited the leafy greens processing and field operations at Burch Farms but not the cantaloupe operation. Fothergill said Primus records show its staff was last at the Burch operation in March.

Burch said he planted only about 10 acres of honeydews for this season. The entire crop went to wholesalers. He said his farm has not had food safety issues in the past.

Of course not. Ignorance is bliss. And that’s the way growers and sellers prefer it. Market food safety at retail.

44 sick in Kentucky Salmonella outbreak

Why is this just being made public now?

Maybe it has been public and slipped my mind.

WSAZ reports that nine cases of Salmonella have been confirmed in Olive Hill, Ky., and at least four are part of a statewide outbreak sickening at least 44 people.

People apparently started getting sick about July 11, and there have been no new cases of Salmonella reported since July 31.

Two weeks later and the outbreak becomes public.

A statewide investigation is underway to try to find the source of the cases.

Handwashing is never enough at petting zoos – North Carolina edition

In 2004, 187 people became ill with E. coli O157 after visiting the North Carolina State fair in Raleigh. One of those visitors was a two-year-old who was hospitalized for 36 days with hemolytic uremic syndrome. That led to the passage of Aedin’s Law, which directs the Commissioner of Agriculture to adopt rules establishing sanitation requirements for petting zoos and animal exhibitions.

The law says that all animal events need to be permitted, and it is the responsibility of the permit holder to follow rules around signage, education, provision of handwashing facilities and risk-reducing animal care and management practices. Changes happened because a bunch of people got sick.

In 2011, 25 attendees at the same fair acquired E. coli O157 by walking through the Kelley Building where a livestock competition was held. The epidemiology didn’t point to animal contact as a risk factor. In response to the outbreak, Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler formed a multiagency group to evaluate management practices and come up with changes to be implemented at future events.

These changes were released last week and focus on limiting access to animal areas (including show areas and washing areas where the poop is knocked off of animals), increasing the availability of handwashing stations, evaluating their use, and increased communication about risks.

Not sure what that last one means.

Outbreaks of zoonotic disease at petting zoos demonstrates that although contact with animals in public settings (such as fairs, petting zoos, and schools) can provide educational and entertainment opportunities, the potential to spread disease exists at these events if proper hygiene measures and precautions are not taken and reinforced. Human illness outbreaks have been linked to visiting petting zoos or similar settings with animal contact in the U.S., Canada, U.K., New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has documented approximately 150 outbreaks of human infectious disease involving animals in public settings from 1996-2010.

Children have an increased risk of infection in animal-contact settings due to certain factors and behaviors, including lack of awareness of the risk for disease, inadequate handwashing, lack of close supervision, and frequent hand-to-mouth activities (e.g., use of pacifiers, thumb-sucking, and eating).

In the fall of 2009, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at Godstone Petting Farm in the U.K resulted in 93 illnesses – primarily little kids.

The investigation into the Godstone outbreak identified evidence of environmental contamination outside the main barn, indicating acquisition of illness through both direct animal or fecal contact, and indirect environmental contact (e.g. contacting railings or soiled footwear).

Aerosolization of potential pathogens is also possible, as suggested in an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at a county fair in Oregon, in which 60 people fell ill.

As part of the response to the Godstone outbreak, U.K. health types recommended handwashing stations with soap and water only (no wipes or sanitizers, because they don’t work that well under certain conditions).

Ihekweazu et al. subsequently concluded that in the Godstone outbreak, “handwashing conferred no demonstrable protective effect. …

“Moreover, from the findings of many previous published studies, it must be assumed that all petting or open farms are potentially high-risk environments for the acquisition of VTEC O157 infection.”

Against this backdrop, the Raleigh News Observer wrote in an editorial last week that Commissioner Troxler has instituted some common sense changes to the fair like limiting contact with animals and moving some food vendors away from the animal buildings.

That may be common sense after two E. coli outbreaks at the same fair, but it’s not common sense unless organizers have actually thought about it. At the Ekka yesterday in Brisbane, we saw untold amounts of food, water bottles, pacifiers, and baby bottles being consumed or transported, all while petting animals through a fence.

Troxler also said, “Handwashing, handwashing, handwashing.”

This means that as folks go through the fairgrounds, they ought to take advantage of well-placed handwashing stations and lather up (or use sanitizer) often. Very often. And it means giving the little ones a frequent handwashing exercise as well.

Sanitizers have limited effectiveness, and in a petting zoo situation, so does handwashing; it’s only one component of an overall strategy to reduce risk. But it’s easy to say handwashing because that blames the patrons, not something else.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/petting-zoos-outbreaks.

State Fair taking E. coli precautions

Petting zoo chaos at Ekka; better design, messages could reduce risk

Yesterday we joined over 70,000 for our second People’s Day at the Ekka.

The petting zoo was a mess.

The Brisbane Exhibition, or Ekka, runs over 10 days and is similar to American-style state fairs or the CNE in Toronto: bad food, hucksters of various wares, a large midway, and the best livestock from across the state.

There was a petting zoo, a sorta controlled-chaos the like of which I’d never seen (left, exactly as shown) where hundreds of parents and their kids roamed in a large enclosure with goats, sheep, cattle, and shelled out some cash to feed the animals from a cup. Kids were crying and falling in poop, animals were scarfing down food, parents were chatting with friends and not noticing their toddler doing things that shouldn’t be done in a petting zoo.

At one point, Amy told Sorenne not to put her fingers in her mouth after petting an animal; the mother next to her told her kid, “Yeah, don’t put your fingers in your mouth.”

Amy couldn’t tell if it was sarcasm or sincere.

Both hand sanitation and handwashing stations were available at the departure point, which was good, although reminders could have been more effective: the compliance rate appeared low. As Anderson and Weese found in 2011 at a temporary petting zoo in Guelph using video observation, 58 per cent of visitors performed some form of hand hygiene (either using water, soap and water, or hand sanitizer), and two interventions (improved signage while offering hand sanitizer, and verbal hand hygiene reminders by venue staff) were associated with increased hand hygiene compliance. U.K. health officials currently recommend handwashing stations with soap and water only (no wipes or sanitizers).

There was a person collecting feed cups at the exit (which we did not buy) but she said nothing about handwashing as I left.

And handwashing is never enough. While some studies suggest inadequate handwashing facilities may have contributed to enteric disease outbreaks or washing hands was protective against illness, others suggest relevant infectious agents may be aerosolized and inhaled. Handwashing tool selection may also contribute to the success of hand hygiene as a preventive measure, as some outbreak investigations have reported alcohol-based hand sanitizer was not protective against illness, especially when hands are soiled.

All the refs can be found in our recent paper, a sorta secret petting zoo shopper,

Observation of public health risk behaviors, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011.

Snappy title.

I’m fine with animal interactions; but people, and organizers, should be a lot more careful than they thought. That’s what I told my 3-year-old’s daycare as they prepared for a chicken coop. I’m not sure people like that message.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available athttp://bites.ksu.edu/petting-zoos-outbreaks.

Erdozain GKukanich KChapman BPowell D. 2012. Observation of public health risk behaviours, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011. Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Jul 30. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2012.01531.x. [Epub ahead of print]


Observation of public health risk behaviors, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011Outbreaks of human illness have been linked to visiting settings with animal contact throughout developed countries. This paper details an observational study of hand hygiene tool availability and recommendations; frequency of risky behavior; and, handwashing attempts by visitors in Kansas (9) and Missouri (4), U.S., petting zoos. Handwashing signs and hand hygiene stations were available at the exit of animal-contact areas in 10/13 and 8/13 petting zoos respectively. Risky behaviors were observed being performed at all petting zoos by at least one visitor. Frequently observed behaviors were: children (10/13 petting zoos) and adults (9/13 petting zoos) touching hands to face within animal-contact areas; animals licking children’s and adults’ hands (7/13 and 4/13 petting zoos, respectively); and children and adults drinking within animal-contact areas (5/13 petting zoos each). Of 574 visitors observed for hand hygiene when exiting animal-contact areas, 37% (n=214) of individuals attempted some type of hand hygiene, with male adults, female adults, and children attempting at similar rates (32%, 40%, and 37% respectively). Visitors were 4.8x more likely to wash their hands when a staff member was present within or at the exit to the animal-contact area (136/231, 59%) than when no staff member was present (78/343, 23%; p<0.001, OR=4.863, 95% C.I.=3.380-6.998). Visitors at zoos with a fence as a partial barrier to human-animal contact were 2.3x more likely to wash their hands (188/460, 40.9%) than visitors allowed to enter the animals’ yard for contact (26/114, 22.8%; p<0.001, OR= 2.339, 95% CI= 1.454-3.763). Inconsistencies existed in tool availability, signage, and supervision of animal-contact. Risk communication was poor, with few petting zoos outlining risks associated with animal-contact, or providing recommendations for precautions to be taken to reduce these risks.



Kathie Lee pees in the shower?

Following U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Locte’s admission that he pees in the pool, the train wreck that is Kathie Lee and Hoda on NBC decided to share their thoughts on the issue – 10 days later.

Lochte had originally said, “There’s something about getting into chlorine water that you just automatically go.”

Wannabe microbiologist Kathie Lee chimed in this morningthat, “chlorine doesn’t take care of ALL the germs.”

“Don’t you pee in the shower?” asked Hoda.

KLG admits that she does, but only because she’s concerned about the earth, and doing so saves a flush.

Ryan Lochte Pees in Pool