Category Archives: Infections

Four things to know about the Listeria recall

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listeria-largeBy Lydia Zuraw
Kaiser Health News and NPR

Frozen vegetables are a staple in many diets, so a huge recall of them has us peering at the packages in our freezers.

On Tuesday evening, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an outbreak of the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria and frozen vegetables and fruits are believed to be the cause.

More than 350 products like green beans, broccoli, peas and blueberries sold under 42 brands at U.S. and Canadian grocers including Safeway, Costco and Trader Joe’s have now been recalled.

Here are the four things to know about listeria and this massive recall:

Listeria is deadly.

Although much less common than other foodborne pathogens like salmonella or E. coli, listeria is the most lethal. Most healthy immune systems can keep an infection at bay, but if the bug makes it into the bloodstream, it causes listeriosis and kills one in five victims. Continue reading

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First Zika case reported in King County

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2016 Cynthia Goldsmith Caption:This is a transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus, which is a member of the family Flaviviridae. Virus particles are 40 nm in diameter, with an outer envelope, and an inner dense core. Additional Information:“Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.”For more information on the Zika virus, follow the link below.

From Public Health – Seattle & King County

The first case of Zika infection in a King County resident has been identified by Public Health – Seattle & King County. This Zika case does not pose a risk to the public in Washington state.

The types of mosquitoes that transmit Zika are not found in the Pacific Northwest so local health officials do not expect Zika virus to spread.

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, or less commonly, through sexual contact with a recently infected man.

The illness was identified in a man in his forties who had recently been in Colombia, a country that has Zika virus spreading actively and is on the list of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) travel advisories.

This is the third case of Zika found in Washington state. All three cases were found in people who became infected while in countries that have current Zika outbreaks.

With ongoing widespread outbreaks in the Americas and the Caribbean including Puerto Rico, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to King County and elsewhere in the mainland United States will likely increase.

This Zika case does not pose a risk to the public in Washington state. Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, or less commonly, through sexual contact with a recently infected man.

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CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco Washington issues massive recall of its frozen vegetables due to Listeria concern

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Recall includes approximately 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands sold in all fifty U.S. states and the Canadian Provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 3.38.59 PMAs a precaution, CRF Frozen Foods of Pasco, Washington is expanding its voluntary recall of frozen organic and traditional fruits and vegetables.

We are performing this voluntary recall in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, Listeriainfection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

This expanded recall of frozen vegetables includes all of the frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in CRF Frozen Foods’ Pasco facility since May 1, 2014.

All affected products have the best by dates or sell by dates between April 26, 2016 and April 26, 2018. These include approximately 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands, the details of which are listed below.

Products include organic and non-organic broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, edamame, green beans, Italian beans, kale, leeks, lima beans, onions, peas, pepper strips, potatoes, potato medley, root medley, spinach, sweet potatoes, various vegetable medleys, blends, and stir fry packages, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries. For a complete list of affected products go here. Continue reading

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As water infrastructure crumbles, many cities seek private help

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Drinking Water WarningBy Mindy Fetterman
Stateline

WOODBURY, N.J. — As city councilors here discussed the local water system recently, Summer Smith, a homeowner, rose to ask a question: “Can you explain in plain English what ‘emergent water conditions’ means? It sounds kind of alarming.”

David Trovato, the council president, acknowledged that any hint of a water quality emergency “would scare the hell out of me, too.” But there is no emergency in Woodbury.

New Jersey has designated Woodbury’s water system as “emergent” because it can’t meet the need for water at peak demand times. So this town of 10,000 across the Delaware River from Philadelphia is considering selling its water system to a private company.

Woodbury isn’t alone.

More than 2,000 municipalities have entered public-private partnerships for all or part of their water supply systems, according to the National Association of Water Companies, which represents private water companies like Veolia North America and American Water.

Partner municipalities include San Antonio; Akron, Ohio; and Washington, D.C. Miami-Dade County is considering partnerships for three water facilities, including one built in 1924. And Wichita, Kansas, is starting to study the issue.

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where old pipes leached out lead into water supplies, has raised new worries that cities aren’t keeping up with maintenance and improvements. Continue reading

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It’s not just doctors and nurses, patients need to wash their hands, too

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Hygiene. Cleaning Hands. Washing hands.

By Shefali Luthra
Kaiser Health News

Encouraging doctors and nurses to wash their hands frequently has always been considered an easy and effective way to curb the spread of infection in hospitals and other health facilities.

But a new research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine points to another key group of people who aren’t always keeping their hands so clean and, it turns out, probably should: patients.

Researchers focused on inner-city Detroit and examined patients who went from hospitals to post-acute care facilities — places like rehabilitation centers, skilled-nursing facilities, hospice and long-term care hospitals.

They found that almost one in four adults who left the hospital had on their hands a superbug: a virus, bacteria or another kind of microbe that resists multiple kinds of medicine. While in post-acute care, about 10 percent of patients picked up another superbug. Of those who had superbugs, 67 percent still had them upon being discharged, even if they hadn’t gotten sick.

These findings add to a growing body of research about hand hygiene and the patient’s role in infection transmission, and speak to an underlying problem with health care facilities — they can increase the odds of getting sick. The paper’s authors suggest it highlights a potential, so far underused strategy for addressing that concern: getting patients to wash their hands. Continue reading

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Wonderful Pistachios recalled due to Salmonella concerns

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From the Washington State Department of Health

Wonderful Pistachios Orders Recall Due to Risk of Salmonella Contamination

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 12.20.46 PMOLYMPIA — Wonderful Pistachios announced yesterday the recall of a limited number of flavors and sizes of in-shell and shelled pistachios here in Washington because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Nine states reported having 11 people infected with Salmonella. Two of the 11 people are from Washington.

The pistachios were sold under the brand names Wonderful, Paramount Farms, and Trader Joe’s, and can be identified by a lot code number on the lower back or bottom panel of the package.

A table of recalled products is available on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Recall & Advice to Consumers and Retailers web page.

“Salmonella is very serious, and it is important that people take the proper steps to reduce their risk of infection,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist.

lot-code-image

Click to go to a list of the recalled lots.

It is recommended that consumers do not eat and retailers do not sell recalled pistachios produced by Wonderful Pistachios.

Contact your health care provider if you think you may have become ill from eating this product. More information about Salmonella can be found on the DOH’s Salmonella web page.

Information about the recall is also available on the company’s web page.

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New chickenpox vaccine requirement for Washington high school students this fall

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All public and private high school students will be required to get two doses of the chickenpox vaccine before they enter school.

From Washington State Department of Health

Alert Icon with Exclamation Point!Parents of Washington high schoolers may be surprised to hear about a new chickenpox (varicella) vaccine requirement in the coming school year. In the 2016-17 school year, all public and private high school students will be required to get two doses of the chickenpox vaccine before they enter school.

Parents are encouraged to get their teens vaccinated soon to avoid a last minute rush before the start of school.

Parents are encouraged to get their teens vaccinated soon to avoid a last minute rush before the start of school.

People may consider chickenpox a routine and mild childhood illness; however, it is a very contagious disease that spreads quickly and causes an itchy rash, fever, and sometimes serious illness.

People infected with chickenpox are at risk for developing shingles, a painful skin rash, later in life. Chickenpox is transmitted through the air by coughing and sneezing or by touching chickenpox blisters. Continue reading

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Zika virus case confirmed in Spokane County

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640px-Map_of_Washington_highlighting_Spokane_County.svgSPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane Regional Health District officials, working with Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed Zika virus infection in a U.S. citizen diagnosed in Spokane County, Washington.

The individual is a woman, in her 20s, and was in an area where Zika transmission is happening. The woman was pregnant at the time she had symptoms of Zika virus infection.

She delivered her baby and the child tested negative for Zika virus. The baby shows no signs of the health problems linked to Zika virus infection.

This is the second confirmed case of Zika virus infection in a returning traveler to Washington state.

“Although we can be thankful that mom is symptom-free at this point, and that her baby appears unaffected at this time, this serves as a timely reminder for anyone considering traveling to countries where the virus is circulating to be aware of the risks, and for pregnant women to delay their travel if possible,” said Dr. Joel McCullough, SRHD interim health officer.

Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus. The risk factors and frequency for adverse health effects to the baby are still being studied, including microcephaly (abnormally small heads) in infants, and miscarriage.

CDC experts still do not know if there is a link between Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological immune disorder that most people recover from.

This is the second confirmed case of Zika virus infection in a returning traveler to Washington state. The first was in a Mason County, Washington male who recently traveled to a Zika affected area.

The Spokane woman was tested based on CDC guidance that all pregnant women who traveled to a place with a Zika outbreak during pregnancy receive antibody testing for the virus. Continue reading

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Zika virus exposes weaknesses in public health

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2016 Cynthia Goldsmith Caption:This is a transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus, which is a member of the family Flaviviridae. Virus particles are 40 nm in diameter, with an outer envelope, and an inner dense core. Additional Information:“Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.”For more information on the Zika virus, follow the link below.

By Michael Ollove
Stateline

Zika is the latest public health threat facing an undermanned public health system.

State health officials were heartened when President Barack Obama this month asked Congress for $1.8 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus because they fear they don’t have the resources to fight the potentially debilitating disease on their own.

Budget cuts have left state and local health departments seriously understaffed and, officials say, in a precariously dangerous situation if the country has to face outbreaks of two or more infectious diseases — such as Zika, new strains of flu, or the West Nile and Ebola viruses — at the same time.

Budget cuts have left state and local health departments seriously understaffed, officials say.

“We have been lucky,” said James Blumenstock of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, of states’ and localities’ ability to contain the flu, West Nile and Ebola threats of the last five years.

“Not only have the last major threats not been as severe as they might have been, they have also been sequential,” Blumenstock said. “The issue is: What if the next pandemic is not as mild as the last ones? What if more than one of them happens at once?”

States to varying degrees have cut back spending on public health since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007. Overall state spending on public health fell by $1.3 billion between 2008 and 2014, two health research organizations — the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — reported last year. Continue reading

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First case of Zika virus disease reported in Washington

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Health officials urge heightened disease prevention awareness among travelers

From the Washington State Department of Health

2016 Cynthia Goldsmith Caption:This is a transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus, which is a member of the family Flaviviridae.  Virus particles are 40 nm in diameter, with an outer envelope, and an inner dense core. Additional Information:“Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.”For more information on the Zika virus, follow the link below.

Zika virus – Photo: Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC

Washington State Department of Health received confirmation today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that a Mason County man in his 20’s, who visited a Thurston County hospital, is the first person in the state to test positive for Zika virus.

The person recently traveled to the South Pacific before returning to Washington.

People who’ve returned from Zika-affected areas who are pregnant or having symptoms of Zika illness should contact their healthcare provider.

“Because many people travel to and from places where Zika is spreading, we’ve been expecting to have imported cases of Zika virus disease,” said Dr. Scott Lindquist, State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases for the Department of Health. “While the Zika virus is of greatest risk to pregnant women, it is understandably concerning to many of us. The good news is this virus spreads through the bite of a type of mosquito we don’t have in Washington state, so it is very unlikely that this virus would spread widely here.” Continue reading

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Vaginal ring provides partial protection from HIV in large multinational trial

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From the National Institutes of Health

NIH-funded study finds protective effect strongest in women over age 25.

Woman holding the dapivirine vaginal ring tested in the NIH-funded ASPIRE study. International Partnership for Microbicides

Woman holding the dapivirine vaginal ring tested in the NIH-funded ASPIRE study. International Partnership for Microbicides

A ring that continuously releases an experimental antiretroviral drug in the vagina safely provided a modest level of protection against HIV infection in women, a large clinical trial in four sub-Saharan African countries has found.

The ring reduced the risk of HIV infection by 27 percent in the study population overall and by 61 percent among women ages 25 years and older, who used the ring most consistently.

These results were announced today at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston and simultaneously published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Women need a discreet, long-acting form of HIV prevention that they control and want to use,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the primary funder of the trial. “This study found that a vaginal ring containing a sustained-release antiretroviral drug confers partial protection against HIV among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Further research is needed to understand the age-related disparities in the observed level of protection.”

Women accounted for more than half of the 25.8 million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014. Finding effective HIV prevention tools for adolescent girls and young women in particular is critical, as one in four new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa occur in this group. Continue reading

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