New case in botulism outbreak linked to fish

Picture: iStock

A new case of Clostridium botulism from fish, a jump in hepatitis A illnesses and investigations ending in US and Canada are outbreaks reported recently.

Germany reported a laboratory-confirmed case of botulism in a 53-year-old man living in the northwest of the country in early May. He remains in a critical condition.

Botulinum neurotoxin type E was in patient sera and Clostridium botulinum type E was detected by PCR in leftovers of fish he had eaten.

The source is suspected to be dried and salted roach bought on 29 April. A second suspected case in southern Germany is under investigation.

German authorities said the product is sold mainly in Russian shops. It came from a shop in Damme (district of Vechta) which purchased it from a wholesaler in Osnabrück.

Germany and Spain reported six cases of foodborne botulism from dried salted fish last year.

Four botulism E cases were in Germany and two from Spain. Five had a Russian origin and one a Kazakh background.

Affected chilled dried salted common roach was from Lithuania and the Netherlands with raw material from Poland.

It was distributed by Monolith Süd and Slovenian authorities named the manufacturer as M de Groot & ZN of the Netherlands – the company did not respond to our initial request for comment.

Jump in Hepatitis A cases

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in a Hepatitis A outbreak has jumped from nine to 42.

Most cases ate food produced by JB Christie before mid-April, through outlets in Airdrie and Coatbridge.

Dr Femi Oshin, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in public health medicine, said the investigation indicated products made and sold between 20 March and 13 April may have been affected.

“The bakery fully cooperated with our investigation and undertook additional control measures agreed by NHS Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire Council, which enabled it to resume trading on Tuesday 2 May.”

It also disposed of all its fresh ingredients and foodstuffs which could transmit infection.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection which leads to inflammation of the liver and can cause mild to severe illness.

It can take between 15 and 50 days from the time the virus enters the body to development of symptoms, so new cases are likely to be identified in the coming weeks.

Dr Oshin said Hepatitis A is a foodborne virus which can be spread by hand to mouth contact when there is poor hand hygiene.

“As such, one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the hepatitis A infection is good hand hygiene - thorough hand washing and drying. We would like to remind everyone that they can protect themselves by washing their hands, particularly after visiting the toilet and before preparing or eating food.”

End of outbreaks

An outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to raw milk cheeses has ended, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, the agency recommended consumers do not eat, restaurants do not serve and retailers do not sell recalled raw milk cheeses made by Vulto Creamery.

Eight people infected with the outbreak strain were reported from four states. All were hospitalized, including two people from Connecticut and Vermont who died. One illness was in a newborn.

Connecticut Department of Public Health identified the outbreak strain of Listeria in leftovers that were identified as Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery.

New York Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services found Listeria in samples taken from three wheels of Ouleout cheese made by the company.

Vulto Creamery recalled all lots of Ouleout, Miranda, Heinennellie and Willowemoc soft wash-rind raw milk cheeses and expanded it to include Andes, Blue Blais, Hamden and Walton Umber.

CDC also closed an investigation on an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections.

However, the agency warned SoyNut Butter products have long shelf lives and may still be in people’s homes. SoyNut Butter is a nut-free substitute for peanut butter.

It was made by Dixie Dew Products Inc of Erlanger, Kentucky. The FDA suspended the firm’s Food Facility Registration at the end of March – meaning no food may leave the site for sale or distribution.

Thirty-two people infected with the outbreak strains of STEC O157:H7 were reported from 12 states.

Twelve people were hospitalized and nine developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) - a type of kidney failure.

Testing identified STEC O157:H7 in opened containers of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter from the homes of ill people in California, Oregon and Washington.

Officials in California also isolated STEC O157:H7 in unopened containers of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter from retail.

Norovirus and E. coli in Canada

An outbreak of norovirus linked to raw and undercooked oysters from British Columbia has ended, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

A total of 331 clinical cases of gastrointestinal illness were reported in British Columbia (230), Alberta (42) and Ontario (59). No illnesses have been reported since March.

Illnesses can be avoided if oysters are cooked to an internal temperature of 90° Celsius/194° Fahrenheit for a minimum of 90 seconds.

The cause of contamination was not identified. Several shellfish farms where oysters are harvested in British Columbia were closed for harvest.

Temporary requirement of additional control measures, including testing oysters for E. coli on a biweekly basis, is no longer in effect.

In other news, an outbreak of E. coli O121 linked to various flour products made by Ardent Mills has been updated to include 29 cases.

Cases are in British Columbia (13), Saskatchewan (4), Alberta (5), Ontario (1) and Newfoundland and Labrador (5) with one in a visitor to the country.

PHAC said it is not safe to taste or eat raw dough or batter, regardless of the type of flour used, as raw flour can be contaminated with bacteria such as E. coli.

Illness onset dates range from November 2016 to April and eight people have been hospitalized.

Investigations by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) found one case had Robin Hood flour at home. A sample tested positive for E. coli O121.

All 29 cases have a matching genetic fingerprint and several have had contact with Robin Hood flour.

Certain flours with brand names including Apple Valley, Brodie, Creative Baker, Golden Temple, Lynn's Bakery & Deli, Mom’s Pantry / Jim & Leonie, Robin Hood, The New Food Box and Western Family have been recalled.

USDA public health alerts

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) issued a public health alert due to concerns that frozen ready-to-eat fried chicken and pork sausage produced by Pinnacle Foods may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The company told FSIS that results from environmental samples received 1 May were preliminary for L. monocytogenes. There have been no confirmed reports of illnesses.

Frozen ready-to-eat fried chicken and pork sausage items were produced from February 4, 2016 to May 4, 2017 and shipped to retail nationwide.

Affected items are 5.5-oz. microwavable dinners containing French toast and a pork sausage patty with “Aunt Jemima French toast and sausage” and UPC code 051000063915 and 16-oz. individual frozen microwavable dinners containing a waffle and a fried chicken piece with “Hungry-Man Selects Boneless Fried Chicken & Waffles” and UPC code 658276202903.

The agency also made a different alert to inform consumers that 424 pounds of raw veal products from the Netherlands may be contaminated with Non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O103.

Raw boneless veal were produced at 9EG, EKRO B.V., Netherlands and imported by MRW Food Brokers, Inc., in Owings Mills, Maryland.

Items were shipped to a distributor and further distributed to restaurants and grocery stores in Florida and Massachusetts.

The problem was discovered when an FSIS sample of veal stew meat tested positive for STEC O103 but there have been no confirmed reports of illnesses.

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