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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

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As of April 21, 2014, a total of 132 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Cotham have been reported from 31 states since February 21, 2012.

  • 58% of ill persons are children 5 years of age or younger.
  • 42% of ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of Salmonella infections to contact with pet bearded dragons purchased from multiple stores in different states. Bearded dragons are popular pet lizards that come in a variety of colors.

Of the three isolates collected from ill persons, one (33%) was resistant to ceftriaxone, an antibiotic used to treat serious Salmonella infections.

Campylobacter, Vibrio Up, E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, Cryptoporidium, Cyclospora and Yersinia Flat

MMWR reported the 2013 FoodNet data today and it was a bit depressing.

FoodNet conducts active, population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed infections caused by CampylobacterCryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157 and non-O157Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia in 10 sites covering approximately 15% of the U.S. population.  For information on those bugs, see www.foodborneillness.com.

In 2013, FoodNet identified 19,056 cases of infection, 4,200 hospitalizations, and 80 deaths.  The number and incidence per 100,000 population were Salmonella (7,277 [15.19]), Campylobacter (6,621 [13.82]), Shigella (2,309 [4.82]), Cryptosporidium (1,186 [2.48]), STEC non-O157 (561 [1.17]), STEC O157 (552 [1.15]), Vibrio (242 [0.51]), Yersinia (171 [0.36]), Listeria (123 [0.26]), and Cyclospora (14 [0.03]). Incidence was highest among persons aged ≥65 years for Cyclospora, Listeria, and Vibrio and among children aged <5 years for all the other pathogens.

Compared with 2010–2012, the 2013 incidence was significantly lower for Salmonella (9% decrease; CI = 3%–15%), higher for Vibrio (32% increase; CI = 8%–61%) and not significantly changed for other pathogens.  Compared with 2006–2008, the 2013 incidence was significantly higher for Campylobacter and Vibrio.  The overall incidence of infection with six key foodborne pathogens was not significantly different in 2013 compared with 2010–2012 or 2006–2008.

The incidence of laboratory-confirmed Salmonella infections was lower in 2013 than 2010–2012, whereas the incidence of Vibrio infections increased. No changes were observed for infection with Campylobacter, Listeria, STEC O157, or Yersinia

Marler Clark Retained to File E. coli Lawsuit Against Trader Joe’s

A total of 33 persons infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 were reported from four states.

The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: Arizona (1), California (28), Texas (1), and Washington (3).

32% of ill persons were hospitalized. Two ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths were reported.

The STEC O157:H7 PFGE pattern combination in this outbreak was new to the PulseNet database.

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that consumption of two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe’s grocery store locations, was the likely source of this outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections.

On November 10, 2013, Glass Onion Catering voluntarily recalled numerous ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products that may be contaminated with STEC O157:H7.

Read the list of recalled products regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

Read the list of recalled products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

E. coli:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

Marler Clark Retained in 2013 Denver Jimmy John’s E. coli Outbreak

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the CDC and the FDA are all investigated an E. coli outbreak in the Denver metropolitan area in 2013.

In the second week of October three Jimmy John’s restaurants in the Denver Metro area reportedly served up sandwiches that sickened eight people with E. coli bacteria.

“We believe that their illness came from a produce item that was on those sandwiches that they ate,” said Alicia Cronquit, epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  Cronquist said all eight cases were reported between October 18th and 22nd, and all of the people impacted ate at Jimmy John’s between October 7th and 15th.

E. coli:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

Dinner Rolls cause of Old Country Buffet Salmonella Outbreak

Jim Hammerand of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that Health officials have identified dinner rolls as the food that likely sickened Old Country Buffet diners in Maple Grove earlier this year.

The rolls were likely cross-contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis from raw chicken used in the restaurant, Minnesota Department of Health spokesman Doug Schultz said.

The health agency’s joint investigation with Hennepin County found 36 people who were likely sickened by the bacteria after eating at the restaurant between Jan. 11 and Feb. 11. Most of the diners who fell ill ate there Jan. 25.

At least one person was hospitalized.

“Most outbreaks are preventable: They occur] because a food worker came in ill, or because of cross-contamination. … It’s just a question of what steps should have been taken,” Schultz said. “Contamination doesn’t just happen.”

More Ill with Salmonella Tainted Foster Farms Chicken

The investigation continues into Salmonella Heidelberg infections likely related to Foster Farms chicken.

Ongoing surveillance identified in February that infections from some of the previously rare outbreak strains again exceeded the number of infections expected to be reported to PulseNet during this time of year.

As of April 7, 2014, a total of 524 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 25 states and Puerto Rico, since March 1, 2013.

37% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Most ill persons (76%) have been reported from California.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.

The outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics. Although these antibiotics are not typically used to treat Salmonella bloodstream infections or other severe Salmonella infections, antibiotic resistance can be associated with increased risk of hospitalization in infected individuals.

At Least 100 Ill in Illinois with Salmonella

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck is warning people about the dangers of consuming illegally manufactured cheeses. Health officials are reporting around 100 cases of salmonellosis in 13 counties believed to be linked to consumption of an illegally manufactured Mexican-style cheese. A sample of the cheese obtained from the home of a person who became ill tested positive for Salmonella. IDPH is working with local health departments to identify the manufacturer of the contaminated cheese.

“We’re concerned that people who consume this manufactured cheese may become sick from Salmonella,” said Dr. Hasbrouck. “It is important for you to check the labeling to make sure the product was made by a licensed dairy manufacturer – even if you purchased the cheese from a grocery store. If you become ill after eating Mexican-style cheese, contact your health care provider and your local health department.”

Local health departments in Boone, Cook (including the city of Chicago), DuPage, Fayette, Kane, Lake, LaSalle, Macon, Marion, McHenry, Vermillion, Washington and Will counties have reported to IDPH since July 2012 around 100 cases with the same strain of Salmonella believed to be associated with this cheese. The average age of people who have become ill is nine-years-old and a third of all the cases have been hospitalized.

Anyone with information about illegally manufactured cheese should contact their local health department for follow up. Without this information, it will not be possible to prevent further illnesses. People who become ill after eating illegally manufactured cheese, should keep the cheese for possible testing.

Many cases have reported consuming Mexican-style cheese obtained from worksites, including factories, and at train stations, from street vendors and from relatives and friends. The cheese is not labeled and is often wrapped in aluminum foil. IDPH recommends that people who have Mexican-style cheese in their home, but cannot clearly identify the product was made by a licensed or regulated manufacturer, should not eat the cheese.

While Salmonella bacteria cannot be detected by sight, taste or smell, it can cause illness, including fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Most individuals can recover on their own in 3 to 5 days. The infection can be more severe in young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune system.

IDPH advises against buying or consuming cheese that is suspected to be made by an unlicensed dairy manufacturer. IDPH encourages consumers to always purchase milk and dairy products made by licensed dairy manufacturers. Legitimate Mexican-style cheeses are available in the refrigerated case at retail stores and in most cases, label information specifies the legal name of the product, the name and address of distributor or processor, quantity of contents, an ingredient statement, and nutrition facts.

1 Sick Dog Prompts Salmonella Pig Ear Recall – 615 Sick Humans Prompts Silence?

On May 17, 2011 Boss Pet Products, Inc. announced that it recalled its Diggers Natural Treat Pig Ear pet treats because the products had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Boss Pet had been notified by one of its suppliers, Keys Manufacturing Company, Inc., that a batch of Keys’ pig ear treats tested positive for Salmonella. Keys Manufacturing had initiated a voluntary product recall in cooperation with the FDA and had identified several shipments of potentially affected products which Boss Pet shipped out under its Diggers brand in November, 2010 through April, 2011.

There had been a report of one dog in Missouri having Salmonella. Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans.  Salmonella can affect animals eating the product and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the product or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Over the last year the CDC reported a total of 481 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg in 25 states and Puerto Rico and an earlier total of 134 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg in 13 states.  Although FSIS issued a Public Health Alert following the second outbreak announcement, no recall was issued despite the chicken products being linked to Foster Farms.

People infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

LSD Linked to Walmart Steak

Tampa Bay Police report, shortly after dinner, Ronnie Morales felt sick and called 911. However, he was feeling so ill that his girlfriend drove him to St. Joseph’s Hospital. When they arrived his girlfriend also became ill and was rushed across the street to St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital where they induced labor, as she was 9 months pregnant. A short time later, her daughters, 7-year-old Elyana and 6-year-old Rayna, started experiencing hallucinations and felt ill. Both children and Ronnie Morales received tracheal intubation and were hospitalized. They were released from the hospital in good condition on Wednesday, March 5th. The mother and her healthy baby boy were released Thursday, March 6th.

TPD’s Forensic investigators took possession of the food items that the family consumed prior to falling ill. They also took the family’s oven for testing. Initial test results received today from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the family consumed bottom round steak contaminated with LSD. Toxicology test on samples from the family members are pending. Results are expected in the next three weeks.

Detectives determined the family bought the meat at a Walmart located at 1501 North Dale Mabry Highway. The chain has been very cooperative with the investigation and voluntarily turned over all meat of that type that was on their shelves at that time. The Medical Examiner is currently testing that meat. TPD does not have any other similar cases. At this point, it appears this is an isolated incident. Detectives are still working to determine if a crime has occurred. The Federal and Florida Department of Agriculture along with the Hillsborough County Health Department are investigating the case with TPD detectives.

Foster Farms Sickens More With Salmonella – No Recall

According to the CDC today the investigation continues into Salmonella Heidelberg infections likely related to Foster Farms chicken.

As of February 28, 2014, a total of 481 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 25 states and Puerto Rico, since March 1, 2013. 38% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported. Most ill persons (76%) have been reported from California.

The number of reported infections from all seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg returned to baseline levels in January and the outbreak appeared to be over, as noted in the previous update on January 16, 2014. However, the investigation continued.

Ongoing surveillance identified in February that infections from two of the previously rare outbreak strains have again exceeded the number of infections expected to be reported to PulseNet during this time of year.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.

The outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics. Although these antibiotics are not typically used to treat Salmonella bloodstream infections or other severe Salmonella infections, antibiotic resistance can increase the risk of hospitalization in infected individuals.