Is Foodborne Transmission of Hantavirus, Swine Flu or WNV Possible?


Any Foodborne Transmission Among Hantavirus, Swine Flu or WNV?

Not a lot, but some

BY DAN FLYNN | SEP 04, 2012

 Mangoes are likely responsible for the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak and Cantaloupes are almost certainly the source of the Salmonella Typhimurium infections, but what role does food and water play in spreading Hantavirus, swine flu and West Nile Virus?

None of the three are typically thought of as food borne diseases, but that does not tell the
whole story.


For example, the federal Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta reports that people can become infected of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome if they eat food contaminated by urine, droppings or saliva from an infected rodent.
That might not happen at your house, Hantavirus infections typically occur in people who are camping, hunting or doing other outdoor activities.  This year 10,000 people who visited Yosemite National Park have been warned about Hantavirus because they may have stayed in the park’s Curry Village which has tent-like structures.
Three confirmed and one possible case of Hantavirus have been linked to that location.
CDC says many  Hantavirus victims probably touch something contaminated with rodent urine, droppings, or saliva and then touch their own nose or mouth. Rodent bites would also do, but those are rare.
Airborne transmission is also likely from tiny droplets of urine, rodent droppings, and nestling material get into the air.
Any number of rodents, from deer mice to cotton rats–can spread the virus.  CDC has tracked Hantavirus in the U.S. since 1993, the year when attention was first focused  on the virus after unexplained deaths began occurring in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.
Yosemite’s  many park visitors being exposed to Hantavirus this year does not mean anything extraordinary is going on. Through early July, only 15 news confirmed cases had been recorded since last year when the total count since 1993 stood at 587.
The mean age for a Hantavrirus victim from 1993 to 2011 was 37 with two out of three being men with the Four Corners states of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico plus California  and Texas having the most cases.
Swine Flu
More than 300 variant influenza viruses have now been recorded in the U.S.  Most of these “swine flu” viruses have been found in Indiana and Ohio, which recently experienced the first deaths. The “term Variant” means they are similar to viruses circulating in swine.
The current U.S. outbreak of swine flu involves the H3N2 Influenza A Variant Virus.   In addition to the one death,  15 of the 288 people infected required hospitalization.
CDC reports that swine flu has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pork. Key to proper preparation is cooking pork to 145 °F throughout.
West Nile Virus (WNV)
About 30,000 Americans have suffered from West Nile Virus since 1999.  Unless you count one case where a nursing mother with West Nile Virus gave it to her baby, WNV is not much of a food borne disease.
But standing water is another story.   Mosquito do their breeding in standing water, bird baths or pet’s water bowl are enough.  Breeding areas mean more mosquitos and more WNV-carrying mosquito bites.
Dr. Lyle Petersen, CDC’s director of the division of vector-borne infectious diseases, says cases of West Nile Virus are now on the rise.
“As of August 28th, 2012, a total of 48 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes. Only Alaska and Hawaii have reported no West Nile virus activity.  Forty-three states have reported at least one human case of West Nile virus disease. CDC received reports of 1,590 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 66 deaths, Petersen told an Aug. 29 press briefing.
“Of these, 889 (56 percent) were classified as neuroinvasive disease, such as meningitis or encephalitis; and 701 (or 44 percent) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease.  These numbers represent a 40 percent increase over last week’s report of 1,118 total cases, 629 neuroinvasive disease cases, and 41 deaths.
“The 1,590 cases reported thus far in 2012, is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to the CDC through the last week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.  More than 70 percent of the cases have been reported from 6 states, which in descending order are Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan.  Nearly half of the cases are from Texas.”
© Food Safety News



Hantavirus Kills 2nd Yosemite Camper


How long before this becomes a problem in restaurants, distribution centers and warehouses where food is stored….

Visitors warned to beware of symptoms

The Associated Press

Posted: Aug 31, 2012 10:20 AM ET

Two more Yosemite National Park visitors have been found with a mouse-borne virus blamed for the deaths of two people, bringing the total number of infections to six, health officials in California say.

Anita Gore, a spokeswoman for California Department of Public Health, said Thursday that the discoveries were made through the agency’s investigation into cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome at the famed park.

Yosemite officials are expanding their efforts to notify visitors to a complex of tent cabins who may have been exposed to a rare but potentially deadly rodent-carried virus. Yosemite officials are expanding their efforts to notify visitors to a complex of tent cabins who may have been exposed to a rare but potentially deadly rodent-carried virus. (DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite/Associated Press)The infections spurred park officials to close 91 tent cabins atCurry Village in Yosemite Valley, where five of the six infections occurred. Gore said one of the infected people may have been in another area of the park.

“Our investigation is trying to determine which area of the park that person visited,” Gore said.

Over the past three weeks, two people have died of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome after staying in cabins at Curry Village in Yosemite Valley.

Park officials said the double-walled design of the cabins that were closed Tuesday made it easy for mice to nest between the walls. The disease is carried in the feces, urine and saliva of deer mice and other rodents.

The two that died had stayed the so-called “Signature” cabins. Mike Gauthier, Yosemite chief of staff, said the design of the luxury cabins that are new to the park allowed for rodent infestation.

“We just weren’t aware that design would lead to it,” he said.

”It’s impossible to get rid of the deer mice, so there is going to be some risk to being in a wilderness area.’— Vicki Kramer

The illness begins as flu-like symptoms but can quickly affect the lungs. It can take up to six weeks to incubate. Five of the people who fell ill are known to have stayed in the tent cabins in June or July, and warnings have gone out to visitors who stayed in Curry Village in June, July or August.

The hantavirus outbreak occurred despite efforts by park officials to step up protection efforts last April. A 2010 report from the state health department warned park officials that rodent inspection efforts should be increased after a visitor to the Tuolumne Meadows area of the park fell ill.

The new hantavirus policy, enacted April 25, was designed to provide a safe place, “free from recognized hazards that may cause serious physical harm or death.”

More cabin inspections

It came after the state report revealed that 18 per cent of mice trapped for testing at various locations around the park were positive for hantavirus. The report said park officials should take steps to prevent mice from entering areas where people sleep.

“Inspections for rodent infestations and appropriate exclusion efforts, particularly for buildings where people sleep, should be enhanced,” it said.

“We worked with Yosemite to evaluate risk and make recommendations to reduce the possibility of transmission to people,” added Vicki Kramer, chief of the health department’s vector-borne disease section. “That included reducing the number of mice, and excluding them from structures.”

In 2009, the park installed the 91 new, higher-end cabins to replace some that had been closed or damaged after parts of Curry Village, which sits below the 3,000-foot Glacier Point promontory, were determined to be in a rock-fall hazard zone.

The new cabins have canvas exteriors and drywall or plywood inside, with insulation in between. Park officials found this week when they tried to shore up some of the cabins that mice had built nests in the walls.

The deer mice most prone to carrying the virus can squeeze through holes. They are distinguished from solid-coloured house mice by their white bellies and gray and brown bodies.

“Those cabins were all immediately investigated and cleaned when initial reports came out,” Gauthier said. “But we want to be extra sure and not take any chances.”

Yosemite’s hantavirus plan also calls for awareness training of park employees and prescribes protective measures and equipment to reduce exposure.

“That’s been a clear part of our messaging. My understanding is we did implement all of the measures of those recommendations,” Gauthier said.

The state concurs that officials in Yosemite took steps to deal with potential hantavirus exposure, but there are limitations, given the location.

Cleaning mouse droppings

“Yosemite, to their credit, has taken quite a few steps to address this,” Kramer said. “But it’s a wilderness area and these buildings aren’t going to be tight. It’s impossible to get rid of the deer mice, so there is going to be some risk to being in a wilderness area.”

Meanwhile, the park sent warning emails and letters Wednesday to another 1,000 people who stayed in tent cabins, after officials found that a computer glitch had stopped the notices from going out with the original 1,700 warnings Monday. The warning says anyone with flu-like symptoms or respiratory problems should seek immediate medical attention.

In 2011, half of the 24 U.S. hantavirus cases ended in death. But since 1993, when the virus first was identified, the average death rate is 36.39 per cent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most of the nearly 600 cases reported since 1993 have been in New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, Arizona and California. Most often they are isolated, so having this cluster of cases from a small area in Yosemite has perplexed public health officials.

The federal government has two epidemiologists working in the park. They are trapping mice and rodents in an effort to determine how much of the population carries the virus and to see whether there are more mice in Yosemite Valley this year than in other years.

Kramer warned people never to sweep or vacuum mouse droppings. Instead, spray them with a mixture of bleach and water then wipe it up with paper towels or a mop.


Sunterra Market Recalls Fruit Cups


Store-made FRUIT CUPS, YOGURTS, and SALADS sold at Sunterra Markets in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta may contain Salmonella Braenderup bacteria

OTTAWA, August 30, 2012 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Sunterra Market are warning the public not to consume the store-made Fruit cups, Yogurts, and Salads described below because these products contain recalled Daniella mangoes as an ingredient which may be contaminated with Salmonella Braenderup.

The following products are affected by this alert.

Product UPC Size Best Before Dates Up to and including
Fresh Mango Cup 0204628 602992 210 g 2012AU28
Strawberry and Mango Cup 0201747 602995 210 g 2012AU27
Quinoa and Mango Salad 0201725 201400 Various weights 2012AU30
Strawberry and Mango Salad 0201745 201404 Various weights 2012AU29
Quinoa, Mango and Edamame Salad Box 0201726 307996 450 g 2012AU29
Cajun Chicken and Fresh Mango Salad Box 0211527 307996 440 g 2012AU27

These products were sold at Sunterra Markets in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta.

The following product was sold from one Sunterra market location only, Lendrum Shopping Centre 5728- 111 Street Edmonton, AB.

Product UPC Size Best Before Dates Up to and including
Granola and Yogurt Cup Mango and Raspberries 0208236 602993 294g 2012AU27

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria may cause salmonellosis, a foodborne illness. In young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems, salmonellosis may cause serious and sometimes deadly infections. In otherwise healthy people, salmonellosis may cause short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Long-term complications may include severe arthritis. If you think you have illness symptoms related to salmonellosis, please contact your family doctor.

The manufacturer, Sunterra Market, Calgary, Alberta is voluntarily recalling the affected products from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

For more information consumers and industry can call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY1-800-465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).

Granola and Yogurt Cup Mango and Raspberries
Granola and Yogurt Cup Mango
and Raspberries
Fresh Mango Cup
Fresh Mango Cup
Strawberry and Mango Cup
Strawberry and Mango Cup
Quinoa and Mango Salad
Quinoa and Mango Salad
Strawberry and Mango Salad
Strawberry and Mango Salad
Quinoa, Mango and Edamame Salad Box
Quinoa, Mango and Edamame
Salad Box
Cajun Chicken and Fresh Mango Salad Box
Cajun Chicken and Fresh Mango
Salad Box


Shopping for a Loaf of Bread

Hot-FlashOkay, I’m having a HOTFLASH!

I stopped by my local grocery store this morning to get a loaf of bread… simple right!! NOT SO FAST!  My first hot flash was getting it sliced!

They now have a help yourself bread slicer on the counter, at first glance/thought I think.. great.  But then, I think to ask how often is this machine cleaned…what happens if my gluten-free bread is pushed through this slicer…then I noticed there are no hand sanitizer or gloves.. gulp!

I decide to slice my own bread at home.. ahhh I’m so wise! As im patting myself on the back for making a good food-safe decision, I round the corner to see staff placing sliced watermelon right next to raw chicken.  My second hotflash!  Except this one is hotter.  I decide to take a picture, giving prove of what I’ve seen. Cross-ContaminationSuddenly I’m accosted by, presumably, someone in authority, to tell me I’m “NOT ALLOWED to take pictures in this store!” but .. but .. I say.. I’m not comfortable with this potential of cross-contamination.  I try to explain that I can’t wash this sliced watermelon at home if raw chicken were to contaminate it… I’m told that I will be escorted from the store. Not another HOTFLASH!!

I sigh,  knowing that I’m making a fuss, I’m getting unwelcome attention, I’m upsetting the status quo, I’m making a point, I’m challenging the policies, I’m too aware of food safety concerns… I ask myself how this can be wrong!  I just wanted a loaf of bread!

I start to notice more things.. I don’t mean to.. but my hot flashes are coming faster …. I observe a gentleman reaching in the bun bins with bare hands, not using the available tongs… I see the unattended child spitting into the dry goods containers, giggling to himself… I see a staff member taking a cantaloupe off the shelf without washing the fruit, cutting and serving it to customers… I realize that there are no thermometers to read the temperature in the deli case,  the milk is leaned up outside the refrigeration curtain..

Surely this store doesn’t want to hurt me, has my best interest at heart, and wants me back as a regular customer? Right!!  I smile as I read the message on the staff t-shirts..”CUSTOMERS COME FIRST” ! That answers my questions, but why are they insisting I leave the store and not take pictures!

The revelation that hits me like another hot flash, they are afraid, they want me to continue to go by blind faith, make the assumption that everything is fine and will be fine…that nothing I observe or don’t observe will harm me.   I so wish that were true, if only I hadn’t heard of the deaths and sickness and recalls from every corner of the country. If only I wasn’t so observant…..

Share your  “ hot flashes “ with me, maybe we can fire up some enthusiasm together for answers to our questions and make changes to our world.

Suspected norovirus at P.E.I. resort investigated

About 60 people were sick with gastrointestinal illness last weekend

CBC News Posted: Aug 23, 2012 6:25 PM

An outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness at the Stanhope Beach Resort and Conference Centre last weekend is being investigated by the Department of Health, according to P.E.I.’s chief health officer.

Dr. Heather Morrison says about 60 people had symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or diarrhea after attending events at the resort.

Morrison says it could possibly be a norovirus-like illness.

“No cause has been identified to date. Food histories have not identified a likely food source of the illness. And no bacterial cause of the illness has been identified to date,” she said.

“We do have some viral testing pending … there have been no reports of any new ill staff or guests at the resort over the last few days.”

Most people who reported symptoms are feeling better, she said.

The health department says there were three different weddings at the resort on the weekend.

No one else has become sick since then. There has never been an illness of this kind reported at the resort before, Morrison said.

Audrey Firth, the general manager of the resort, says they are co-operating fully with the Department of Health in its investigation to determine the cause of the illness.

She says the facility has always maintained a high degree of cleanliness in all parts of the property and has re-doubled its efforts to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Cruise Ship Suspected Source of Outbreak That Closed Halifax Restaurants


CTV Atlantic
Published Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012 6:10PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012 7:16PM ADT

A cruise ship that stopped in Halifax about two weeks ago is the suspected source of an outbreak that shut down two restaurants on the waterfront this week.

It turns out at least 200 people on the ship reported feeling ill, and restaurant and business owners in downtown Halifax are now asking why they weren’t notified of the outbreak.

Lisa Drader-Murphy owns a clothing store in Bishop’s Landing. She developed norovirus-like symptoms Sunday; about a week after her store manager fell ill.

“We had had an incident, or a day in our store where many cruise ship passengers had come through and told our staff there was a Norwalk outbreak on their cruise ship,” says Drader-Murphy.

The Carnival Glory docked in Halifax on Aug. 9 and it appears it may have carried more than just passengers to the waterfront.

Two waterfront restaurants, The Bicycle Thief and Ristorante a Mano, had to close after at least 26 staff and customers became ill with what also appears to be the norovirus.

According to a statement released by the Carnival Glory, of the roughly 4,800 people on board the ship, roughly 200 had norovirus-like symptoms when they docked in Halifax.

Carnival Cruise Lines tells CTV News all guests who experienced norovirus-like symptoms were required to remain on the ship and not go into port. It also says Health Canada was notified of the outbreak.

In a statement to CTV News, Health Canada says:

Health Canada was made aware of the presence of a gastrointestinal illness aboard the Carnival Glory on August 9, 2012. As gastrointestinal illness rates did not exceed three per cent of the passengers or crew while in Canadian waters, no official inspections were conducted.

However, calculations made by CTV News show otherwise, as three per cent of the ship makes up 143 passengers and Carnival Cruise says a total of 215 passengers were sick.

Some Halifax residents say the outbreak has made them think twice about dining on the waterfront.

“Certainly be more cautious, knowing that’s around right now, until everything’s cleared,” says Scott Chapman. “It’s certainly disconcerting.”

“I would think twice about visiting a restaurant on the waterfront that would be frequented by the cruise ships,” says Gary Armitage.

The Bicycle Thief and Ristorante a Mano remained closed today, although food safety officials gave the owners approval to re-open.

The owners say they chose to keep the restaurants closed for an extra day as a precautionary measure, and they plan to re-open tomorrow.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Alyse Hand

Read more:


Suspected Case of Norovirus Hits Halifax Restaurant


Several customers and staff at The Bicycle Thief in downtown Halifax got sick Thursday.Several customers and staff at The Bicycle Thief in downtown Halifax got sick Thursday. (CBC)
Capital Health officials are investigating a suspected case of Norovirus at a popular Halifax restaurant, after several staff members and customers got sick earlier this week.

On Thursday, some people who were at The Bicycle Thief complained of acute gastroenteritis symptoms.

“As the owners of The Bicycle Thief, we took a precautionary step to close the restaurant Saturday evening,” said owners Stephanie and Maurizio Bertossi in a statement.

Individuals who had symptoms reported feeling better within 12 hours, they said.

Shauna Robar says she is still recovering after being sick for days.

“My friends and I went out for a celebratory dinner at The Bicycle Thief and we all had our dinners there and we were fine. And then all of us — for me it was around 1:30 in the morning — we all started getting sick.”

“We were sick throughout the entire night. I’ve actually never been that sick in my life,” she said.

Robar says one of her friends went to the hospital, where other sick people told her friend they had eaten at the restaurant on Thursday night.

The restaurant will reopen Tuesday.The restaurant will reopen Tuesday. (CBC)Stephanie Bertossi says 14 of her 80 staff members also got sick.

“We’re unsure of what’s going on right now. We’ve had a couple of clients contact us as well that they have become ill,” she said.

Bertossi has closed the restaurant until Tuesday.

“We apologize to our loyal customers for the inconvenience and we look forward to Tuesday,” the statement said.

Officials at the Capital Health District are investigating, the Department of Health confirmed.


Woman Sues Over 2010 Folklorama Outbreak


BY DAN FLYNN | AUG 16, 2012

The Folk Arts Council of Winnipeg Inc., also known as Folklorama, and the Russian Pavilion are being sued for lost wages, pain and suffering by 52-year-old Trudy Andrew of Oakbank.
Winnipeg’s Folklorama Festival claims to be the world’s largest and longest running cultural event in the world. Its 2012 run began August 5 and will continue through August18.
Andrew was one of the 40 people who were infected with E. coli O157:H7 between Aug. 9 and Aug 30, 2010  after attending the popular Folklorama event two years ago and visiting the Russian Pavilion.


Andrew told the Winnipeg Free Press that without hospitalization she “wouldn’t have made it.”
Among the 40 people who became sick who attended the 2010 event, which last two weeks, 34 ate at the Russian Pavilion. Three others were children who were left at a daycare center, but who were likely infected by someone who dined at the pavilion.
During the 2010 outbreak, 17 people required emergency treatment and five were hospitalized, including a two-year-old boy who suffered kidney failure and required dialysis.
An investigation by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority determined that a locally made juice called “kompot” was the source of the outbreak. The juice was apparently cross-contaminated with E. coli-laced ground beef.
The kitchen at the Russian Pavilion was cited for deficiencies on the first day of the 2010 event, including for improper ground beef storage and faulty operating temperatures.
Sofia Barklon, coordinator of the Russian Pavilion, has maintained for the past two years that the  community center where the pavilion sets up for the show is responsible for the faulty refrigeration equipment.
Barklon says the Russian Pavilion no longer serves meals with ground beef.
Andrew, a self-employed trucker, was hospitalized for eight days,  She has been unable to return to work or lead a normal lifestyle as she cannot travel or ride horses as she did before.  Her claim was filed in the Queen’s Bench.
Folklorama and the pavilion have not yet responded to Andrew’s lawsuit.  She is the only victim from the 2010 outbreak to file a lawsuit.

© Food Safety News


The Power of the Consumer and Social Media


Burger King Employee Posts Photo Of Himself Stepping In Lettuce, Gets Busted By 4chan Users

Posted: 07/17/2012 1:42 pm Updated: 07/17/2012 1:48 pm

Burger King Employee Steps In Lettuce

An unidentified employee at an Ohio Burger King posted a photo of himself stepping in lettuce to 4chan on Monday. Users of the popular image board responded by pinpointing his location and contacting management and news media.

The tech media likes to describe Internet image board 4chan as a lawless, unruly place, but apparently there’s justice in the Web’s Wild West after all.

An anonymous 4chan user and Burger King employee posted a photo of himself stepping in bins of lettuce to the site on the evening of July 16. The original poster captioned the image with “This is the lettuce you eat at Burger King.”

But some 4chan users were appalled by the image and decided to take action. They grabbed the GPS data included in the picture in an effort to pinpoint where the photograph had been taken, the Cleveland Scene reports.

In addition to contacting local news media in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, where the image originated, users also managed to pull up the address and telephone number of the exact Burger King location where the event allegedly took place. E-mails and phone calls quickly followed.

And according to Hypervocal, it only took 4Chan users about 15 minutes to expose the alleged perpetrator.

montage of the 4chan users’ responses was posted to Reddit on Tuesday.

The Huffington Post contacted a manager at the Mayfield Heights Burger King, who said that the alleged perpetrator was a long-time employee. Though the manager refused to disclose other details, she stated this was the employee’s first disciplinary incident in his employment history.

The Cleveland Scene spoke with a shift manager about the incident, who said that both the employee and the shift manager on duty at the time of the incident would be fired.


George Clooney and Stacy Keibler get food poisoning in Italy

This just goes to show that no matter how big of a star you are and how much money you have, EVERYONE is susceptible to a foodborne illness.

George Clooney and his actress girlfriend Stacey Keibler became ill with food poisoning while vacationing in Italy.

The couple was dining with friends on the Fourth of July in Cernobbio when they, and the rest of their party, became ill.

However, a manager of the restaurant they were at denied they became ill from his food and that their illness must have originated elsewhere.

“Finally had a bad meal in Italy,” Keibler tweeted Thursday. “Our whole dinner party got food poisoning #ohwell at least I’m still in Italy.”

Keibler, 31, and Clooney, 51, have been dating for a year. They arrived in Italy in June and have reportedly spent much time at his home at Lake Como.

They were also recently seen on a double date with Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. The quartet was seen boarding a private jet last week.

Clooney, Keibler and the rest of their July 4 party were not hospitalized and are reportedly recovering from their illness.