Category Archives: Infections

Public health officials investigate E. coli outbreak

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Six people have been infected with the same strain of E. coli (three have been hospitalized) Everyone who became sick had something in common – they ate food prepared by, a local food vendor called Los Chilangos.

From Public Health – Seattle & King County

Escherichia Coli_NIAID E Coli Bacteria

E coli / NIAID

Public Health is currently investigating an outbreak of E. coli 0157 – one of the most serious foodborne illnesses you can contract. Our thoughts are with the families affected by this outbreak, and we appreciate the support of the community as we work to protect the health of the public.

A person can get an E. coli O157 infection from many different sources: by eating or drinking something contaminated with animal or human fecal matter, through animal contact, or through contact with another person who has an E. coli infection.

One of our responsibilities at Public Health is to track down these sources. When there are illnesses associated with any one of the more than 12,000 food establishments in the county, we search for contaminated products, ill food workers, or improper food handling.

We follow specific steps to find clues that help us pinpoint the source(s) that may be linked to illness. Here are key steps of this current investigation. Continue reading

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Vaccine rates leave many Washington toddlers at risk

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Alert IconFrom Washington State Department of Health

New immunization rates show many toddlers across the state aren’t getting vaccinated for certain diseases on time, if at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Immunization Survey.

The trend means more children are at risk of getting measles, whooping cough, or other preventable diseases.

The trend means more children are at risk of getting measles, whooping cough, or other preventable diseases.

The annual survey reports that children between 19 and 35 months of age weren’t any more protected against serious and potentially fatal diseases than the year before. About 67 percent of toddlers in 2014 were fully vaccinated by 3 years of age.

This overall rate is about 3 percent lower than 2013, but statistically the two rates are not significantly different.Washington’s immunization rates for 2014 did not improve for most recommended vaccines for young children.

The lone exception was the dose of hepatitis B vaccine given at birth. Coverage rates for the hepatitis B birth dose vaccine exceeded national coverage rates, increasing to almost 80 percent.

“The data show that we’re not protecting all of our kids as well as we should,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “We’re disappointed that our rates aren’t higher. When kids aren’t fully protected, it puts those kids and the wider community at risk of disease. The recent spike in measles cases and the ongoing whooping cough outbreak highlights the need for high vaccination rates.” Continue reading

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Seattle Children’s discovers lapse in sterilization at Bellevue clinic | Patients may need to be tested for Hep. B, C, HIV – Bellevue Reporter

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Seattle Children's Whale LogoSeattle Children’s Hospital is working with the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control after it was revealed that the required procedures for cleaning and sterilizing surgical instruments at the hospital’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center were not always followed.

“I understand that families will be concerned, and rightly so, but from a scientific perspective, the risk is low, which I hope that families find reassuring,’ Seattle and King County Public Health official Justin Duchin, M.D. said at a press conference on August 26.

As a result of the problems with sterilization, patients who had a surgical procedure at the Bellevue Clinic may need to be tested for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV, the hospital said in a statement.

Source: Seattle Children’s discovers lapse in sterilization at Bellevue clinic | Patients may need to be tested for Hep. B, C, HIV – Bellevue Reporter

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Fairs and petting zoos are in season: tips to avoid animal-spread illnesses

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Rooster looking through the wires of a cage

Photo by dragonariaes

From the Washington State Department of Health

Millions of people go to agricultural fairs and petting zoos this time of year, and children of all ages love to be around the animals.

Taking a few safety precautions can help reduce the chance of getting sick after spending time with animals or their surroundings.

“We encourage people to enjoy their local fairs and petting zoos,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Just make sure your visit is a safe one. Washing your hands is the number one way to do just that.”

Handwashing is the most effective way to reduce chances of getting sick. The spread of illnesses from animals, such as those caused by E.coli and Salmonella, are commonly linked to hand-to-mouth contact. Continue reading

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Nearly all contact lens users report risky eye care behaviors that can lead to eye infections

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Photo: Etan J. Tal (CC)

Photo: Etan J. Tal (CC)

From the CDC

Almost all of the 41 million estimated contact lens wearers in the United States may be engaging in at least one behavior known to increase their risk of eye infections, according to a report published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly one-third of contact lens wearers who participated in a national survey reported going to the doctor for red or painful eyes related to wearing contact lenses.

More than 99 percent of survey respondents reported at least one risky behavior. The majority of wearers reported:

  • Keeping their contact lens cases for longer than recommended (82.3 percent);
  • “Topping off” solution in the case—adding new solution to the existing solution instead of emptying the case out fully before adding new solution (55.1 percent); or
  • Wearing their lenses while sleeping (50.2 percent).

Each of these behaviors has been reported in previous studies to raise the risk of eye infections by five times or more. Continue reading

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Washington firm recalls 116,000 pounds of whole hogs due to Salmonella concerns.

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Alert IconFrom the US Department of Agriculture

Kapowsin Meats of Graham, Washington, is recalling approximately 116,262 pounds of whole hogs that may be contaminated with Salmonella, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The “Whole Hogs for Barbecue” item were produced on various dates between April 18, 2015 and July 27, 2015. The following products are subject to recall:

On July 15, 2015, the Washington State Department of Health notified FSIS of an investigation of Salmonella  illnesses. Working in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined that there is a link between whole hogs for barbeque from Kapowsin Meats and these illnesses.

Traceback investigation has identified 32 case-patients who consumed whole hogs for barbeque from this establishment prior to illness onset. These illnesses are part of a larger illness investigation.

Based on epidemiological evidence, 134 case-patients have been identified in Washington with illness onset dates ranging from April 25, 2015 to July 29, 2015. FSIS continues to work with our public health partners on this ongoing investigation.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.

Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume pork and whole hogs for barbeque that have been cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F with a three minute rest time.

The only way to confirm that whole hogs for barbeque are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature, http://1.usa.gov/1cDxcDQ.

For whole hogs for barbeque make sure to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in several places. Check the temperature frequently and replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass as you can serve within 1-2 hours.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact John Anderson, Owner, at (253) 847-1777.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

PREPARING PRODUCT FOR SAFE CONSUMPTION

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit 
www.fsis.usda.gov

Wash hands with soap water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Also, wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Clean spills immediately.

Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and egg products and a separate one for fresh produce and cooked foods.

Color is NOT a reliable indicator that meat has been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.

The only way to be sure the meat or poultry is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

  • Beef, Pork, Lamb, &Veal (steaks, roasts, chops): 145°F with a three minute rest time
  • Ground meat: 160°F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165°F
  • Fish: 145°F

Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90º F. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

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West Nile virus death reported in man from Benton County

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Benton CountyFrom Washington State Department of Health

The first person to die from West Nile virus in Washington this year was reported in a Benton County man who was in his 80s. He was hospitalized before his death and was likely exposed to the virus near his home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently conducting tests to confirm the infection.

Ten other people have been diagnosed with West Nile virus infection this year and one blood donor with no symptoms tested positive for the infection; the cases were exposed in Adams County (1), Benton County (8), Franklin County (1), and one multi-county exposure.

First death in Washington in 2015; high number of detections in mosquitoes and horses.

Year after year, south-central Washington has been a “hot spot” for the virus with the most in-state human and animal cases exposed in this area. So far this year, a higher than average number of animal cases and infected mosquitoes have been identified in this region. ‘

Six horses have been confirmed as positive for West Nile virus in Adams, Benton, Franklin, and Yakima counties. Ninety-eight mosquito samples have tested positive in Benton, Franklin, Grant, Walla Walla, and Yakima counties.

West nile virus wnv

While most testing of mosquitoes for the virus happens in the south-central part of the state, the species that transmit the virus are found throughout the state. Regardless of where you live or travel, you should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Continue reading

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Better know a germ: SALMONELLA

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Janice Haney Carr, CDC

Salmonella – Janice Haney Carr, CDC

By Lindsay Bosslet
Public Health – Seattle & King County

Our state, and our county in particular, is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. Government agencies at every jurisdictional level are working hard to stop it.

We sat down with Berhanu Alemayehu from our food safety program to learn more about what people can do to keep themselves safe.

What is salmonella? How do you spot it?
Salmonella is a bacteria that is found on raw meat and poultry, raw eggs, birds, raw fruits and veggies, and even pet lizards. You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it.

Why is it bad?
Salmonella causes food poisoning. Within 12-72 hours of consuming food contaminated with salmonella, a person may experience vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and fever. These symptoms can lead to hospitalization if not treated properly.

How do you get it?
By eating raw or undercooked meats (beef, pork and poultry), by eating raw eggs, and by eating raw fruits and vegetables that were processed using same utensils used to process raw meats and poultry. Salmonella is an equal opportunity offender – you can get it in a restaurant, at home, or at a catered event. Pregnant women, babies, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible. Continue reading

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Number of Salmonella cases in the state linked to pork climbs to 134

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Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories,NIAID,NIH

Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories,NIAID,NIH

From the Washington State Department of Health

The Salmonella outbreak linked to pork products has grown to 134 cases in 10 counties around the state. Consumers are advised to cook pork thoroughly.

The case count has continued to grow as state health officials work with Public Health — Seattle & King County along with other local, state, and federal partners on the disease investigation.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent its team of “disease detectives” to the state to help. Investigators are interviewing the most recent cases and comparing information to early cases, which were first reported in the spring.

Exposure for many of the ill people apparently was whole roasted pigs, served at private events and restaurants.

Disease investigators are searching for possible contamination and exposure sources from a wide range of possible venues, including restaurants, markets, slaughter facilities, and farms/ranches.

Salmonella bacteria are commonly found in animals used for food, and proper storage, handling, preparation, and cooking can help prevent the illness known as salmonellosis.

Most of the illnesses have been confirmed with the outbreak strain of Salmonella bacteria, and early testing shows a connection to a slaughter facility in Graham, WA. Samples were collected at Kapowsin Meats in Pierce County last week. Testing confirms the outbreak strain was present. Continue reading

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Washington Salmonella outbreak expands to 90 cases

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CDC investigators to join state and local health officials next week

From the Washington State Department of Health

Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories,NIAID,NIH

Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories,NIAID,NIH

The Salmonella outbreak that may be linked to pork products has grown to 90 cases in several counties around the state. The ongoing outbreak is under investigation by state, local, and federal public health agencies.

With the increase in cases, state health officials have asked the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to send a special team to help with the investigation. This team of “disease detectives” will arrive in Washington next week.

The likely source of exposure for some of the ill people appears to have been whole roasted pigs, cooked and served at private events.

Disease investigators are searching for possible exposure sources from farm to table. An apparent link to pork consumption or contamination from raw pork is the strongest lead, though no specific source has yet been found.

The likely source of exposure for some of the ill people appears to have been whole roasted pigs, cooked and served at private events. Continue reading

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What an itch!: Swimmer’s edition

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From Public Health – Seattle & King County

Close your eyes. You’re floating on your back (wearing a life preserver, most likely) at your favorite lake, with ducks and geese gently quacking as they feed nearby. Puffy clouds overhead, willows on the bank, and lily pads forming a soothing backdrop for your relaxing float.

And then a microscopic parasite burrows into your skin. You just got swimmer’s itch!

swimmers-itch-image

What is swimmer’s itch?
Swimmer’s itch (cercarial dermatitis) is an itchy rash caused by a parasite in lake water. If you come into contact with water contaminated with parasites the microscopic parasites can burrow into the skin. Continue reading

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Kroger recalls 4 spices on Salmonella concerns

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The Kroger Co. is recalling Kroger Ground Cinnamon, Kroger Garlic Powder, Kroger Coarse Ground Black Pepper and Kroger Bac’n Buds sold in its retail stores due to possible contamination from Salmonella.

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A sample of Kroger Garlic Powder from a store in North Augusta, South Carolina was tested by the FDA and found to be contaminated with Salmonella. To date, no illnesses have been reported in connection with these products. Out of an abundance of caution, the company has recalled all four seasonings produced on the same equipment in the same facility.

Stores under the following names in the 31 states where Kroger operates are included in this recall: Kroger, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, City Market, Smith’s, Dillons, Baker’s, Gerbes, Jay C, Ruler Foods, Pay Less, Owen’s, and Scott’s. Continue reading

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