Friday, August 19, 2011

Deer confirmed as E. coli source in Oregon Strawberry Outbreak

Deer dropping are the reported source of E.coli that contaminated strawberries.  For those who deal with fresh, ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables, this case puts additional pressure on addressing the movement of wild animals onto agricultural fields.

Deer confirmed as E. coli source in Oregon

08/17/2011 4:24:36 PM  The Packer
Coral Beach

State officials announced test results that confirmed deer as the source of E. coli O157:H7 that contaminated fresh strawberries in Oregon, causing one death and making at least 14 other people sick in July.

Oregon’s Public Health epidemiologist Katrina Hedberg reported the results in a news release Aug. 17. Six samples positively matched the E. coli that was found in the people who were infected, Hedberg stated in the release.

More than 100 samples were taken Aug. 6 from five fields where the berries were grown at Jaquith Strawberry Farm in Newberg, Ore. Those samples included deer droppings, soil and strawberry plants. Growers Joe and Jerri Jaquith have been cooperating with state officials, who have said that no sub-standard or problematic conditions were found when the farm was inspected.

Oregon health and agriculture officials remain concerned that some of the strawberries may remain in consumers’ hands. They repeated warnings Aug. 17 that uncooked strawberries used for “freezer jam” or frozen for later use should be thrown out. The strawberries were sold at roadside stands and farmers markets. Harvest at the farm ceased July 29.

“At this time, the Oregon Department of Agriculture believes it has identified those operators and locations that possibly sold Jaquith strawberries,” Hedberg stated in the Aug. 17 release. A list of the 57 locations and 36 vendors is on the department website.

This outbreak, which sickened people from July 10-29, marks the second time in Oregon that E. coli O157:H7 carried by deer has been implicated in human illness.

The bacteria is most often associated with beef and dairy products, but in 1997 Oregon epidemiologist William Keene confirmed that venison jerky was contaminated with the pathogen. Since that time, E. coli has also been confirmed in wild elk.

Monday, August 15, 2011

There is an outbreak of E. coli O157 related to fresh strawberries in Oregon.  13 people have become ill from eating strawberries that came from a particular farm in NW Oregon.  No source has been identified on how the strawberries came to be contaminated.   This is the first outbreak of STEC E.coli related to strawberries.

Recall -- State / Local Press Release

FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and safety alerts from states as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA is not responsible for the content of these notices.

Fresh Strawberries From Washington County Farm Implicated In E. coli O157 Outbreak In NW Oregon

Jonathan Modie
503-758-4914 (Primary)
971-673-1102 (Desk)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 8, 2011 - Oregon Public Health officials have identified fresh strawberries from a Newberg farm as the source of a cluster of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections that sickened at least 10 people last month, including one person who died.

The strawberries were produced last month by Jaquith Strawberry Farm located at 23135 SW Jaquith Road in Newberg. Jaquith finished its strawberry season in late July, and its strawberries are no longer on the market. Jaquith sold its strawberries to buyers who then resold them at roadside stands and farmer’s markets.

Health officials are urging consumers who may have purchased strawberries grown on this farm to throw them out. Strawberries that have been frozen or made into uncooked jam are of particular concern. Cooking kills E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.

“If you have any strawberries from this producer—frozen, in uncooked jam, or any uncooked form—throw them out,” says Paul Cieslak, M.D., from Oregon Public Health Division. He says people who have eaten the strawberries, but remain well need take no action. The incubation period for E. coli O157:H7 is typically two to seven days.

None of the following have been implicated in this outbreak:

  • Berries other than strawberries.
  • Strawberries sold since Aug. 1.
  • Strawberries sold south of Benton County or east of Multnomah County.
  • Strawberries sold in supermarkets.
  • Strawberries picked at Jaquith Strawberry Farm’s U-pick field.

Ten people have confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infection caused by a single strain. They include residents of Washington, Clatsop, and Multnomah Counties. Six other people in northwest Oregon also have recently developed E. coli O157:H7 infection and appear to be part of this outbreak.

Of the confirmed cases, four have been hospitalized, and one elderly woman in Washington County died from kidney failure associated with E. coli O157:H7 infection. There were twelve females and four males among the cases, and their ages ranged from 4 to 85. They fell ill between July 10 and July 29.

Cieslak, manager of the Oregon Public Health’s communicable disease section, said his team has been working with county public health officials and the Oregon Department of Agriculture on tracking the infection cases. When a potential outbreak is investigated, public health officials ask those who’ve been sickened, family members and health care providers a slate of questions to find common exposures and “trace back” to the source.

“If someone gets sick, we ask questions about everything from what they’ve eaten, to whether they’ve been to common gatherings, to whether they’ve been swimming in a particular place, and then out of this we try to find commonalities,” he said. “The commonality among these cases has been strawberries at roadside stands and farmer’s markets supplied by this one farm last month.”

E. coli is a common inhabitant of the gastrointestinal tract and is usually harmless. But E. coli O157:H7 is a strain of the bacterium carried by some animals, that can contaminate food and water, and that produces toxins that can cause mild to severe intestinal illness, including severe cramps and diarrhea that is often bloody. Some patients develop complications that require hospitalization. About 5 percent of infected persons, especially young children and the elderly, suffer serious and potentially fatal kidney damage.

Antibiotics are not recommended for treatment of E. coli O157:H7 infection, and they may actually make kidney failure more likely. People infected with E. coli O157 should rest and drink plenty of fluids to reduce fatigue and dehydration.

Public health officials emphasize that fruits and vegetables are still important to a healthy diet; at least five servings per day are recommended. However, people need to take the following precautions with any uncooked produce:

  1. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
  2. Keep fruits and vegetables and other raw food separated from cooked food
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling raw foods, as well as before eating, after using the toilet, and after changing diapers.

Owner of Jaquith Strawberry Farm saddened by E. coli outbreak

Published: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 9:42 AM Updated: Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 1:23 PM

Deer suspected as source of nation's first E. coli outbreak traced to tainted strawberries

Published: Monday, August 08, 2011, 8:38 PM Updated: Tuesday, August 09, 2011, 10:55 AM

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Salmonella outbreak linked to Ground Poultry

(My comments are in parenthesis and italicized.)

Cargill Meat Solutions is recalling 36 million pounds of ground turkey products that has been linked to a Salmonella outbreak with 79 infected individuals in 26 states.  Of that, 22 have been hospitalized and there has been one death.

Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, a Springdale, Ark. establishment, announced the recall on August 3rd after learning their product may be contaminated with a multi-drug resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg.  (One probable reason for the delay is the wide distribution of the cases and more importantly, the long time period over which the cases occurred.  CDC receives many reports each day, and it can be difficult in identifying trends when there is only a case or two coming in at a time).

The products subject to recall today bear the establishment number "P-963" inside the USDA mark of inspection

According to the CDC on August 1st, a total of 77 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 26 states between March 1 and August 1, 2011. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows:AL (1), AZ (2), CA (6), GA (1), IA (1), IL (7), IN (1), KY (2), LA (1), MA (1), MI (10), MN (1), MO (2), MS (1), NC (1), NE (2), NV (1), NY (2), OH (10), OK (1), OR (1), PA (5), SD (3), TN (2), TX (9), and WI (3).

The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight to 72 hours of eating a contaminated product. It can be life-threatening to some with weakened immune systems.

It is important that all poultry products be cooked to the proper temperature of 165ºF.  It is also important to prevent cross contamination through thorough hand washing after handling raw meat products such as poultry and to clean any surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry including knives and cutting boards. Consumers with questions about this recall should contact Cargill's consumer relations toll free telephone number at 1-888-812-1646. (People tend to undercooked or mishandle ground meat, whether it is ground beef or ground turkey.  Additionally, it is very difficult to use color or firmness as an indicator of doneness when cooking raw ground poultry – the safest way to measure doneness is to use a thermometer, making sure ground poultry has reached 165ºF).