The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) urged proper maintenance of bird feeders could help prevent disease transmission, particularly in these late winter months when songbirds are especially vulnerable.
New Yorkers can help curtail the spread of disease in songbirds by emptying and cleaning feeders and birdbaths with hot soapy water at least every two weeks. It is also a good idea to soak feeders in a dilute 10 percent bleach solution and allow them to dry before re-hanging them. Waste seed on the ground beneath feeders should be cleaned up and discarded. Spreading feeders out and relocating feeders periodically can also limit the build-up of waste. Practice good hygiene when cleaning feeders and birdbaths by wearing gloves to handle seed waste and washing hands after performing maintenance.
Salmonellosis or “Songbird Fever” is among the most common diseases associated with bird feeders. Outbreaks can affect many bird species including cardinals, goldfinches, sparrows, cowbirds and pine siskins. The bacteria can be shed in the bird’s feces even when the bird appears healthy. Salmonellosis can spread through contact with infected birds, contaminated seed, seed waste on the ground or water in birdbaths. It is important to note that salmonellosis is a zoonotic disease and can be spread to both people and domestic animals.
Public health experts report there have been at least four cases of Salmonella associated with bearded dragons in Britain in the last eight months.
Children are particularly at risk because they like to stroke and handle pet reptiles.
Bearded dragons have become popular as pets but their feces can contain Salmonella.
Owners of bearded dragons and other reptiles are advised to wash their hands thoroughly after handling them and clean down any surfaces, which they may have been in contact with.
The CDC published this week in MMWR that in August 2012, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) was notified of gastrointestinal illness outbreaks in two unnamed Arkansas state prisons. ADH investigated the outbreaks and conducted case-control studies to identify the source of the illnesses. The report described the results of these investigations, which identified 528 persons with onset of diarrhea during August 2–18, 2012.
Results from one prison investigation identified chicken salad as the most likely vehicle. At the second prison, person-to-person transmission and contamination of multiple foods likely contributed to illness.
Analysis of stool specimens from inmates identified eight serotypes and 15 pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns of Salmonella.
Isolates of Salmonella from eggs produced at the second prison matched two outbreak patterns. An additional 69 inmates were positive by culture but were not interviewed or did not report diarrhea, making the total case count 597.
Sanitarians identified problems with food preparation, hand washing, and food safety training.
New report on two-year-old Norovirus outbreak.
According to Eurosurveillance, from September through October 2012, the largest recorded foodborne outbreak in Germany occurred.
Norovirus was identified as the causative agent.
Overall, there were nearly 11,000 cases of gastroenteritis.
The outbreaks occurred predominantly at schools and childcare facilities and were supplied almost exclusively by one large catering company. The analytical epidemiological studies consistently identified dishes containing strawberries as the most likely vehicle.
All affected institutions had received strawberries of one lot, imported frozen from China.
The outbreak vehicle was identified within a week, which led to a timely recall and prevented more than half of the lot from reaching the consumer.
The outbreak exemplifies the risk of large outbreaks in the era of global food trade.
It underlines the importance of timely surveillance and epidemiological outbreak investigations for food safety.