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Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

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Botulism outbreak linked to Valley Oak Food and Fuel results in first lawsuit

20455274_1494997038.0408Illness linked to nacho cheese sauce; Victim remains in intensive care; Health Department reports as many as 9 ill and hospitalized

Sacramento resident Lavinia Kelly has filed suit against Valley Oak Food and Fuel Company of Walnut Grove, California, after she contracted Botulism from tainted nacho cheese sauce sold in the store. Ms. Kelly is alleging significant health problems as a result of her illness. She is represented by food safety advocate Bruce Clark, managing attorney at Marler Clark LLP, the Food Safety Law Firm, based in Seattle, along Quirk Law Firm, LLP, of Ventura, California. [Complaint] Kelly v. Valley Oak Food and Fuel Company, et al.

On Friday, April 21, Ms. Kelly bought tortilla chips with nacho cheese at the Valley Oak Food and Fuel store in Walnut Grove.  On April 22, the mother of three began to experience double vision and an unsteady gait. Concerned about her worsening symptoms, she sought medical attention at Sutter Medical Center ER, where she was treated and released.

The next day—Sunday, April 23—Ms. Kelly began to experience labored breathing and difficulty speaking. Her husband, Ricardo “Ricky” Torres, rushed her back to the hospital, where she was admitted and placed on mechanical ventilation.

Shortly after admission, Ms. Kelly was placed in intensive care. She has remained there ever since, unable to move much, speak, breathe on her own, or open her eyes. Family members must pull up her eyelids so she can see at all. She is in a constant state of physical pain. Her condition remains poor and her prognosis uncertain.

This outbreak of Botulism has been linked with five patients recently hospitalized with foodborne botulism. In collaboration with California Department of Public Health and Sacramento County Department of Environmental Management, Sacramento County Public Health are continuing to investigate the outbreak. The data indicates that the source of the cluster of illnesses is prepared food, particularly nacho cheese sauce, from Valley Oak Food and Fuel. The sale of prepared foods at this location was halted on May 5, 2017 by the Sacramento County Department of Environmental Management.

“This tragedy highlights the need for strict food safety standards and close examination of food service providers,” said Bruce Clark, attorney for the plaintiff. “In addition, people must be educated on food safety practices so that they can identify warning signs of food that might be dangerous to eat. No settlement can make up for the immense toll that Botulism takes on its victims.”

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium. The duration of the illness is from 1 to 10 (or more) days, depending on factors. Full recovery often takes from weeks to months. The mortality rate can range from 30% to 65%. Classic symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing and weakness. These are all symptoms of muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, limbs, and body, resulting in death from asphyxia unless intervention is applied. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days. Patients may need to stay on a respirator for weeks or months, plus intensive medical and nursing care. Even several years after acute illness, victims may experience fatigue, weakness, and other symptoms.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of food-borne illness outbreaks. The lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of 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, and has litigated Botulism cases stemming from outbreaks traced to caned chili and carrot juice, among other foods. For more information about Botulism, please visit http://www.botulismblog.com.

Rat Lungworm Cases Increase in Hawaii

13869867_GRat lungworm disease may be under recognized on Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii News Now reports that a new case of rat lungworm disease has been reported on Hawaii Island, the Department of Health said Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases statewide to 15.

The individual was hospitalized for disease-related treatment and has since been discharged, according to a health department spokesperson.

In all, nine Big Island residents had already contracted the parasite before this week’s new case, along with four Maui residents and two visitors who had stayed on the Valley Isle.

In other news, Hawaii News Now also reports the state Health Department has a message for parents: Don’t let your kids drink from the hose.

That’s because rat lungworm disease-carrying slugs can curl up in garden hoses — and could pass the brain-invading parasite on through the water.

Rat lungworm disease is caused by a parasite found in rats and passed on to snails, slugs and some freshwater animals like prawns, shrimp and fish.

Victims are infected after ingesting the parasite. Rats excrete the larvae which is ingested by the slug or snail.

Produce — such as green, leafy plants — attract snails and slugs and the infected veggies or animals are consumed by victims.

Valley Oak Food and Fuel Botulism Update

Valley-Oaks-Food-and-Fuel-California-botulismNacho cheese sauce is the likely culprit in a botulism outbreak that has sickened at least five people who visited a Walnut Grove gas station.

In collaboration with California Department of Public Health and Sacramento County Department of Environmental Management, Sacramento County Public Health is conducting an investigation to determine possible causes of illness in five patients recently hospitalized with foodborne botulism; an additional patient with suspected foodborne botulism is currently under investigation.

Based on preliminary data, the source of their illnesses appears to be prepared food, particularly nacho cheese sauce, from the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove. The sale of prepared food at this location was halted on May 5, by Sacramento County Department of Environmental Management.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Symptoms can include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

Persons who consumed prepared food, particularly nacho cheese sauce, from Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station from April 23, 2017 through May 5, 2017 and have symptoms should contact their medical provider immediately.

WHAT IS BOTULISM?

Botulism is a rare but potentially life-threatening bacterial illness. Clostridium Botulinum bacteria grows on food and produces toxins that, when ingested, cause paralysis. Botulism poisoning is extremely rare, but so dangerous that each case is considered a public health emergency. Studies have shown that there is a 35 to 65 percent chance of death for patients who are not treated immediately and effectively with botulism antitoxin.

Infant botulism is the most common form of botulism. See below for symptoms specific to infant botulism.

Most of the botulism cases reported each year come from foods that are not canned properly at home. Botulism from commercially canned food is rare, but commercial canned chili products were identified as the source of a botulism outbreak in 2007.

SYMPTOMS OF BOTULISM

Botulism neurotoxins prevent neurotransmitters from functioning properly. This means that they inhibit motor control. As botulism progresses, the patient experiences paralysis from top to bottom, starting with the eyes and face and moving to the throat, chest, and extremities. When paralysis reaches the chest, death from inability to breathe results unless the patient is ventilated. Symptoms of botulism generally appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.  With treatment, illness lasts from 1 to 10 days.  Full recovery from botulism poisoning can take weeks to months.  Some people never fully recover.

In general, symptoms of botulism poisoning include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Dry skin, mouth and throat
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Body Aches
  • Paralysis
  • Lack of fever

Infant botulism takes on a different form. Symptoms in an infant include lethargy, poor appetite, constipation, drooling, drooping eyelids, a weak cry, and paralysis.

LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF BOTULISM

The majority of botulism patients never fully recover their pre-illness health. After three months to a year of recovery, persisting side-effects are most likely permanent. These long-term effects most often include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, and difficulty performing strenuous tasks. Patients also report a generally less happy and peaceful psychological state than before their illness.

BOTULISM DIAGNOSIS

If a patient displays symptoms of botulism, a doctor will most likely take a blood, stool, or gastric secretion sample. The most common test for botulism is injecting the patient’s blood into a mouse to see whether the mouse displays signs of botulism, since other testing methods take up to a week.

Sometimes botulism can be difficult to diagnose, since symptoms can be mild, or confused with those of Guillan-Barre Syndrome.

TREATMENT OF BOTULISM

If found early, botulism can be treated with an antitoxin that blocks circulation of the toxin in the bloodstream. This prevents the patient’s case from worsening, but recovery still takes several weeks.

PREVENTION OF BOTULISM

Since botulism poisoning most commonly comes from foods improperly canned at home, the most important step in preventing botulism is to follow proper canning procedure. Ohio State University’s Extension Service provides a useful guide to sanitary canning techniques.

Further botulism prevention techniques include:

  • Not eating canned food if the container is bulging or if it smells bad, although not all strains on Clostridium Botulinum smell
  • Storing garlic or herb-infused oil in the refrigerator
  • Not storing baked potatoes at room temperature

To prevent infant botulism, do not give even a small amount of honey to an infant, as honey is one source of infant botulism.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Botulism outbreaks. The Botulism lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Botulism 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 Botulism lawyers have litigated Botulism cases stemming from outbreaks traced to carrot juice and chili.

If you or a family member became ill with Botulism after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Botulism attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Hepatitis A Spikes in Colorado

Twenty-six cases of hepatitis A have been reported in Colorado since January, which is more than Colorado typically sees in an entire year. Some adults are at higher risk for getting hepatitis A and should be vaccinated to protect against it.
Nine counties in Colorado have reported cases of hepatitis A, with most occurring along the Front Range. All cases involve adults. Among those,  73 percent are men, and more than 50 percent of the men had sexual contact with other men. About half the people who got sick were hospitalized; there have been no deaths. Some of the people who got sick in the current outbreak reported sexual activity at adult entertainment stores.
“We’re working closely with local public health agencies and community partners to reach people who need a hepatitis A vaccination,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. “People at higher risk should get the hepatitis A vaccine, which is extremely safe and highly effective.”
If you’re unsure whether you should be vaccinated, talk to your health care provider. People who have general questions about hepatitis A can call CO-Help at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 for answers in English and Spanish.
Hepatitis A is a liver infection. Typically, a person gets the virus by ingesting food or drinks contaminated with stool from an infected person. Hepatitis A also can spread through sexual contact with an infected person, including oral-anal contact and when fingers or objects that have been in or near the anus of an infected person are placed in someone else’s mouth.
People at higher risk for hepatitis A include men who have sexual contact with men, people who live with or have sex with someone who has hepatitis A, people who inject drugs and people with chronic liver disease.
Hepatitis A vaccine is routinely recommended for children, but most adults have not been vaccinated. Two doses of the vaccine, given six months apart, are recommended for:
  • All children at age 1.
  • Men who have sexual contact with men.
  • People who live with or have sex with someone who has hepatitis A.
  • People who use injection and non-injection illegal drugs.
  • People with chronic (lifelong) liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
  • People who are homeless.
  • People who are traveling to countries that have higher rates of hepatitis A.
  • Family members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common.
  • People who are treated with blood clotting-factor concentrates.
Symptoms of hepatitis A include yellow skin and eyes, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools. Symptoms develop between two weeks and six weeks after an exposure. The illness can be severe and last several weeks or months. Rarely, hepatitis A causes liver failure and death.
“People with hepatitis A can be contagious for two weeks before they have symptoms. They can spread the virus without knowing it,” Herlihy said. “It’s easy to protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated.”

What to know about Clostridium Botulinum – Botulism – during an Outbreak

WHAT IS BOTULISM?

Botulism is a rare but potentially life-threatening bacterial illness. Clostridium Botulinum bacteria grows on food and produces toxins that, when ingested, cause paralysis. Botulism poisoning is extremely rare, but so dangerous that each case is considered a public health emergency. Studies have shown that there is a 35 to 65 percent chance of death for patients who are not treated immediately and effectively with botulism antitoxin.

Infant botulism is the most common form of botulism. See below for symptoms specific to infant botulism.

Most of the botulism cases reported each year come from foods that are not canned properly at home. Botulism from commercially canned food is rare, but commercial canned chili products were identified as the source of a botulism outbreak in 2007.

SYMPTOMS OF BOTULISM

Botulism neurotoxins prevent neurotransmitters from functioning properly. This means that they inhibit motor control. As botulism progresses, the patient experiences paralysis from top to bottom, starting with the eyes and face and moving to the throat, chest, and extremities. When paralysis reaches the chest, death from inability to breathe results unless the patient is ventilated. Symptoms of botulism generally appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.  With treatment, illness lasts from 1 to 10 days.  Full recovery from botulism poisoning can take weeks to months.  Some people never fully recover.

In general, symptoms of botulism poisoning include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Dry skin, mouth and throat
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Body Aches
  • Paralysis
  • Lack of fever

Infant botulism takes on a different form. Symptoms in an infant include lethargy, poor appetite, constipation, drooling, drooping eyelids, a weak cry, and paralysis.

LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF BOTULISM

The majority of botulism patients never fully recover their pre-illness health. After three months to a year of recovery, persisting side-effects are most likely permanent. These long-term effects most often include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, and difficulty performing strenuous tasks. Patients also report a generally less happy and peaceful psychological state than before their illness.

BOTULISM DIAGNOSIS

If a patient displays symptoms of botulism, a doctor will most likely take a blood, stool, or gastric secretion sample. The most common test for botulism is injecting the patient’s blood into a mouse to see whether the mouse displays signs of botulism, since other testing methods take up to a week.

Sometimes botulism can be difficult to diagnose, since symptoms can be mild, or confused with those of Guillan-Barre Syndrome.

TREATMENT OF BOTULISM

If found early, botulism can be treated with an antitoxin that blocks circulation of the toxin in the bloodstream. This prevents the patient’s case from worsening, but recovery still takes several weeks.

PREVENTION OF BOTULISM

Since botulism poisoning most commonly comes from foods improperly canned at home, the most important step in preventing botulism is to follow proper canning procedure. Ohio State University’s Extension Service provides a useful guide to sanitary canning techniques.

Further botulism prevention techniques include:

  • Not eating canned food if the container is bulging or if it smells bad, although not all strains on Clostridium Botulinum smell
  • Storing garlic or herb-infused oil in the refrigerator
  • Not storing baked potatoes at room temperature

To prevent infant botulism, do not give even a small amount of honey to an infant, as honey is one source of infant botulism.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Botulism outbreaks. The Botulism lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Botulism 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 Botulism lawyers have litigated Botulism cases stemming from outbreaks traced to carrot juice and chili.

If you or a family member became ill with Botulism after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Botulism attorneys for a free case evaluation.

FDA Steps into Deer Antler Botulism Outbreak

U.S. Deer Antler Ex. & Imp., of Los Angeles, CA is recalling a variety of Herbal Teas prepared on premises between 3/1/17 and 4/30/17 in cooperation with an inspection made by the California Department of Public Health. The aforementioned Herbal Teas, especially those with low-acidity held at room temperature, were not produced according to approved guideline, making them susceptible to contamination by Clostridium botulinum.

Below are the product descriptions and photographs:

Products Packaging Cases
Herbal Tea Variety Batches prepared on premise between 3/1/17 – 4/30/17 120 ml/ Pouch 40 Pouches / Case

The Herbal Teas were distributed to individual customers and acupuncturists in California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

deer antler tea2Symptoms of Clostridium botulinum typically begin with blurred or double vision followed by trouble speaking, swallowing; and progression to muscle weakness starting in the upper body, moving downward.  Botulism can lead to life-threatening paralysis of breathing muscles requiring support with a breathing machine (ventilator) and intensive care. http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Botulism.aspx

People experiencing these symptoms who have recently consumed these Herbal Teas should seek immediate medical attention.

In its ongoing cooperation with the California Department of Public Health, U.S. Deer Antler Ex. & Imp., Inc. has immediately segregated its entire inventory of Herbal Tea varieties, and is notifying consumers and customers not to consume potentially-contaminated product. Furthermore, U.S. Deer Antler Ex. & Imp. Inc. is voluntarily recalling all varieties of general Herbal Teas prepared on-site in the period of 3/1/17 to 4/30/17 to ensure consumer safety.

Consumers in possession of these products are to stop consumption and return unconsumed product to their original place of purchase.

U.S. Deer Antler Ex. & Imp., Inc. will be sending recall notices to all of its direct customers.  Please contact Joong W. Park (323) 735-9665 for further information.

언론보도

미주녹용건재상사

보툴리눔균 감염우려가 있는 한약탕제 파우치 리콜안내

연락처:

전화번호:  (323) 735-9665

긴급고지 – 가주 로스엔젤레스

2017년 5월 1일

가주 로스엔젤레스에 위치하고 있는 미주녹용이 2017년 4월 1일부터 4월 30일 사이에만들어진 여러 종류의 탕제 리콜을 시행하고 있다.

가주보건국의 감사에 따라 상기 기간에 만들어진 탕제들이 저산도와 상온에 보관 되어 허락된 지침에 따르지 않아 보툴리눔균에 오염될 가능성이 있다.

제품 설명 및 사진

제    품 포 장 단 위 수     량
탕제 (Herbal Tea Variety Batches)  

120 ml /파우치

 

 

40 파우치 / 박스

이 탕제들은 남가주 및 플로리다, 일리노이즈, 메릴랜드, 노스캐롤라이나, 텍사스, 버지니아주에 있는 한의원들과 고객에게 판매되었다.

보툴리눔균의 감염 증상은 처음에 시야가 흐려지거나 혹은 이중으로 보이는 증상이시작되고 이어서 말하기와 음식을 삼키는데 어려움이 따르며, 상체에서 하체로 내려가는 근육약화 증상으로 진행된다. 보툴리즘은 치명적인 호흡근육의 마비로 인해 인공호흡기 사용 같은 적극적 치료를 해야 할 수도 있다.

최근에 이 탕제를 복용하고 상기와 같은 증상을 경험한 사람은 즉각적인 치료를 받아야 한다.

가주 보건국의 요청에 따라 미주녹용은 만들어진 모든 탕제를 폐기 조치하고 감염될가능성이 있는 제품이 사용되지 않도록 소비자들에게 알리고 있다. 나아가서 미주녹용은 2017년 4월 1일부터 4월 30일 사이에 제조된 탕제에 대하여 자발적 리콜을 실시하고 있다.

이 제품을 구입한 소비자들은 복용을 중지하고 구입한 곳에 나머지를 반품하면

된다.

미주녹용은 거래하는 모든 소비자들에게 리콜고지서를 발송하고 있다. 보다 자세한정보는 중 박 (323) 735-9665 에게 문의하기를 바란다.

Botulism Outbreak Reported at Valley Oak Food and Fuel

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 11.21.42 AMFive people sickened.

Ellen Garrison of the Sacramento Bee reports today that the Sacramento County Public Health officials are investigating the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove after several customers who ate prepared food from the station contracted botulism.

A county press release said the department is collaborating with the state Department of Public Health and the county Department of Environmental Management, which has the authority to stop the sale of prepared food at the gas station.

Botulism is a rare and potentially fatal type of food poisoning caused by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms include double vision, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, dry mouth and muscle weakness. The county is asking that anyone experiencing these symptoms after eating prepared food at the gas station from April 23 through Sunday contact their healthcare provider.

Botulism:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Botulism outbreaks. The Botulism lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Botulism 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 Botulism lawyers have litigated Botulism cases stemming from outbreaks traced to pesto, carrot juice and chili.

If you or a family member became ill with Botulism after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Botulism attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.  Clostridium botulinum is the name of a group of bacteria commonly found in soil.  It is an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming rod that produces a potent neurotoxin.  These rod-shaped organisms grow best in low oxygen conditions.  The bacteria form spores, which allow them to survive in a dormant state until exposed to conditions that can support their growth. The organism and its spores are widely distributed in nature. They occur in both cultivated and forest soils, bottom sediments of streams, lakes, and coastal waters, and in the intestinal tracts of fish and mammals, and in the gills and viscera of crabs and other shellfish.

Four types of botulism are recognized: foodborne, infant, wound, and a form of botulism whose classification is as yet undetermined. Foodborne botulism is the name of the disease (actually a foodborne intoxication) caused by the consumption of foods containing the neurotoxin produced by C. botulinum.

Most of the 10 to 30 botulism outbreaks that are reported annually in the United States are associated with inadequately processed, home-canned foods, but occasionally commercially produced foods have been involved in botulism outbreaks. Sausages, meat products, canned vegetables and seafood products have been the most frequent vehicles for human botulism.

I. M. Health Soy Nut Butter E. coli Outbreak Hits 32

soynut-butter-productThe CDC reported on May 4, 2017, that although the outbreak investigation is over, illnesses may continue for some time. The recalled SoyNut Butter products have long shelf lives and may still be in people’s homes or in institutions. People who don’t know about the recalls could continue to eat the products and get sick.

Thirty-two people infected with the outbreak strains of STEC O157:H7 were reported from 12 states. Arizona 4, California 5, Florida 2, Illinois 1, Massachusetts 1, Maryland 1, Missouri 1, New Jersey 1, Oregon 11, Virginia 2, Washington 2 and Wisconsin 1. Twelve people were hospitalized. Nine people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths were reported. Twenty-six (81%) of the 32 ill people in this outbreak were younger than 18 years. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicated that I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter was the likely source of this outbreak. Several soy nut products were recalled:

  • On March 7, 2017, The SoyNut Butter Company recalled all varieties of I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butters and all varieties of I.M. Healthy Granola products.
  • On March 10, 2017, The SoyNut Butter Company expanded its recall to include Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit Butter.
  • On March 24, 2017, Pro Sports Club recalled 20/20 Lifestyle Yogurt Peanut Crunch Bars because they contain a recalled ingredient.
  • On March 28, 2017, the FDA issued a Suspension of Food Facility Registration Order to Dixie Dew of Erlanger, Ky., after an inspection revealed insanitary conditions at the firm that could affect the safety of finished products. Dixie Dew is the contract manufacturer for SoyNut Butter Company’s soy nut butter products. The close out of the outbreak investigation does not affect the suspension order.

Vulto Creamery Listeria Outbreak “over” at 8 with 2 dead

big-map-5-3-17Case Count: Connecticut (1), Florida (1), New York (5) and Vermont (1)

CDC collaborated with public health and regulatory officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis). Listeria causes a serious, life-threatening illness.

Listeria specimens from ill people were collected from September 1, 2016 to March 13, 2017. Ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 89 years, with a median age of 52 years. Five of eight ill people were female. All eight (100%) ill people were hospitalized, including two people from Connecticut and Vermont who died. One of the illnesses was reported in a newborn.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that soft raw milk cheese made by Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, was the likely source of this outbreak.

State and local health departments interviewed ill people or their family members about the foods they ate or other exposures in the month before their illness started. Based on those interviews, eight (100%) of eight people ate a soft cheese. The ill resident of Florida reported traveling to New York state and eating soft cheese there before becoming ill. Available information indicated that cheese made by Vulto Creamery was for sale at stores where at least seven of the ill people bought cheese before getting sick.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health collected leftover cheeses from the home of the deceased person in Connecticut. The outbreak strain of Listeria was identified in a leftover cheese that the family identified as Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery.

The New York Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services collected three intact wheels of Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery. The outbreak strain of Listeria was identified in samples taken from the three wheels of cheese. On March 7, 2017, Vulto Creamery recalled all lots of Ouleout, Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc soft wash-rind raw milk cheeses. On March 10, the company expanded the recall to include four other cheeses: Andes, Blue Blais, Hamden, and Walton Umber. The raw milk cheeses were distributed nationwide, with most sold in stores in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states; California; Chicago; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria 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 Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Marler Clark retained by Hospitalized woman: 13 cases of Rat Lungworm in Hawaii this Year

untitledratHawaii health officials report that two more cases of rat lungworm disease have been confirmed in the state, bringing the total up to 13 in 2017 as opposed to 11 in all of 2016.

The patients in two new cases are from the Big Island and are separate from kava elixir-related cases reported earlier this week. One of patients is being treated at a local hospital after tests for the disease came back positive Wednesday. The other was at a hospital on the mainland (Washington) and tested positive a month ago.

The sources of the new patients’ exposure have not been determined. This year’s cases have been linked to the Big Island and Maui.

Angiostrongyliasis, also known as rat lungworm, is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a parasitic nematode (roundworm parasite) called Angiostrongylus cantonensis. The adult form of A. cantonensis is only found in rodents. However, infected rodents can pass larvae of the worm in their feces. Snails, slugs, and certain other animals (including freshwater shrimp, land crabs, and frogs) can become infected by ingesting this larvae; these are considered intermediate hosts. Humans can become infected with A. cantonensis if they eat (intentionally or otherwise) a raw or undercooked infected intermediate host, thereby ingesting the parasite.

This infection can cause a rare type of meningitis (eosinophilic meningitis). Some infected people don’t have any symptoms or only have mild symptoms; in some other infected people the symptoms can be much more severe. When symptoms are present, they can include severe headache and stiffness of the neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin or extremities, low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting. Sometimes, a temporary paralysis of the face may also be present, as well as light sensitivity. The symptoms usually start 1 to 3 weeks after exposure to the parasite, but have been known to range anywhere from 1 day to as long as 6 weeks after exposure. Although it varies from case to case, the symptoms usually last between 2–8 weeks; symptoms have been reported to last for longer periods of time.

You can get angiostrongyliasis by eating food contaminated by the larval stage of A. cantonensisworms. In Hawaii, these larval worms can be found in raw or undercooked snails or slugs. Sometimes people can become infected by eating raw produce that contains a small infected snail or slug, or part of one. It is not known for certain whether the slime left by infected snails and slugs are able to cause infection. Angiostrongyliasis is not spread person-to-person.

Diagnosing angiostrongyliasis can be difficult, as there are no readily available blood tests. In Hawaii, cases can be diagnosed with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, performed by the State Laboratories Division, that detects A. cantonensis DNA in patients’ cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) or other tissue. However, more frequently diagnosis is based on a patient’s exposure history (such as if they have history of travel to areas where the parasite is known to be found or history of ingestion of raw or undercooked snails, slugs, or other animals known to carry the parasite) and their clinical signs and symptoms consistent with angiostrongyliasis as well as laboratory finding of eosinophils (a special type of white blood cell) in their CSF.

There is no specific treatment for the disease. The parasites cannot mature or reproduce in humans and will die eventually. Supportive treatment and pain medications can be given to relieve the symptoms, and some patients are treated with steroids. No anti-parasitic drugs have been shown to be effective in treating angiostrongyliasis, and there is concern that they could actually make the symptoms worse because of the body’s response to potentially more rapidly dying worms. Persons with symptoms should consult their health care provider for more information.

To prevent angiostrongyliasis, don’t eat raw or undercooked snails or slugs, and if you handle snails or slugs, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands. Eating raw or undercooked freshwater shrimp, land crabs and frogs may also result in infection, although, there has not been any documented cases in Hawaii. You should also thoroughly inspect and wash fresh produce and vegetables, especially if eaten raw. Eliminating snails, slugs, and rats founds near houses and gardens might also help reduce risk exposure to A. cantonensis.

When preparing food for cooking, any suspect food products should be boiled for at least 3 to 5 minutes, or frozen at 5°F (15°C) for at least 24 hours; this will kill the larval stage of the worm.