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


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.


USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit 

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.


Insurers must cover residential mental-health care – Kriedler


Washington MapFrom the Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has clarified to insurance companies in Washington that mental-health services must now be offered in parity with medical services.

The commissioner updated rules on mental-health parity in 2014 and asked insurers to review previous mental-health claims that had been denied under a blanket exclusion. He asked insurers to rectify those denials.

The need for clarification arose after a consumer filed a complaint with Office of the Insurance Commissioner after being denied for residential mental-health treatment. The individual said this violated federal laws regarding mental-health parity. Continue reading


West Nile virus death reported in man from Benton County


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


Better know a germ: SALMONELLA

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


NYC hospitals to end filming patients without consent


Photo by Brainloc

By Annie Waldman

Bruised by criticism after a reality TV show surreptitiously recorded and aired a man’s death, New York City hospitals will no longer allow patients to be filmed without getting prior consent.

The Greater New York Hospital Association, an umbrella organization that represents all of New York City’s hospitals, has asked its member institutions to put an end to filming patients for entertainment purposes without getting their permission.

The move came in response to an issue raised by a ProPublica story published with The New York Times earlier this year.

“Our member hospitals strongly agree that patients deserve privacy in the course of receiving care and that their medical information should be kept confidential in accordance with the law,” said Kenneth E. Raske, the president of Greater New York Hospital Association, in a letter to City Council members last month. The letter was released this week.

ProPublica’s report, published in January, revealed how ABC’s reality show “NY Med” filmed the death of Mark Chanko, a patient at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, without getting permission from him or his family. In July, New York City Council members demanded that city hospitals prohibit the filming of patients.

“Not everything is made for TV,” said New York councilmember Dan Garodnick in an interview. “When you go into a hospital, you deserve to know that your sensitive moments are not going to end up on primetime.”

Chanko’s family only found out about the filming after the episode featuring his death aired. The family was not even aware that camera crews had been in the emergency room during Chanko’s final moments.

[Photo by Brainloc]

Continue reading


‘Defunding’ Planned Parenthood easier promised than one


GOP ThumbnailBy Julie Rovner

The undercover videos purporting to show officials of Planned Parenthood bargaining over the sale of fetal tissue have made the promise to defund the organization one of the most popular refrains on the Republican presidential campaign trail.

It’s actually a much easier promise to make than to fulfill. But that’s not slowing down the candidates.

“There is no reason in the world to have Planned Parenthood other than abortion,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. “We should stop all funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, echoed many of her fellow candidates by vowing that “we should shut down the government” rather than allow further funding of the organization. Many Republicans – though far from all – have been advocating a fight over Planned Parenthood funding this fall when it comes time to keep the federal government operating.

Candidates that are or were governors have gone even further – saying they have already eliminated funding for the organization in their states.

“I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago, long before any of these videos came out,” said Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., in the recent Fox News debate.

“As governor of Florida I defunded Planned Parenthood,” said Jeb Bush, who served from 1999 to 2007, at the same debate. “I created a culture of life in our state.”

But did they really? That depends on how you define the word “defund.” Continue reading


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

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


Prescription Meds: Too Common in Pregnancy?


Blue Pregnant BellyAlthough most doctors say prescribing drugs to pregnant women is a complex issue, they still prescribe them frequently.

More than 4 out of 5 moms-to-be were given an Rx for at least one medication, and 42% were prescribed a drug that could harm a developing fetus, researchers found in a large study.

The most commonly prescribed drugs were the antibiotics amoxicillin, azithromycin, metronidazole, and nitrofurantoin, along with promethazine, which is used to treat allergy symptoms, nausea and vomiting, and motion sickness.

Other frequently dispensed meds include the antibiotic cephalexin and codeine with acetaminophen.

Source: Prescription Meds: Too Common in Pregnancy?


UW Medicine teams up with NFL on new institute to study concussions – Puget Sound Business Journal


Illustration of the skull and brainUW Medicine announced Wednesday the opening of its Sports Health and Safety Institute.

The National Football League gave UW Medicine a $2.5 million foundational grant to open the institute.

The center and its focal point, a concussion clinic, will be based at Harborview Medical Center.

But Johnese Spisso, chief health systems officer at UW Medicine, said the work the institute will do will be spread throughout the UW Medicine system.

Source: UW Medicine teams up with NFL on new institute to study concussions – Puget Sound Business Journal


After years of study, FDA endorses safety device for giving children acetaminophen


ppmb_budnitz_demo_560x373_131227By T. Christian Miller and Jeff Gerth
ProPublica, Aug. 12, 2015, 8 a.m.

The Food and Drug Administration has endorsed the use of a safety device for bottles of children’s medication containing liquid acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.

Called a flow restrictor, the device fits into the top of a bottle to prevent kids from inadvertently squeezing or sucking out too much liquid. In high doses, acetaminophen can result in liver damage and even death.

While the FDA guidance released earlier this month does not require use of the devices, it is a strong signal to manufacturers that flow restrictors are considered an important safety feature to help reduce accidental overdoses.

“This is definitely significant,” said Dr. Dan Budnitz, a scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who is leading an effort to make children’s medicine safer.

The move comes 20 months after ProPublica and Consumer Reports reported on the devices, which have been shown to greatly reduce the liquid dose that children can accidentally remove from a bottle.

About 10,000 children each year visit the emergency room for overdosing on liquid medicines, many of them containing acetaminophen, studies show.

PHOTO: Bryan Meltz for ProPublica

Continue reading


Employers look to tighten control costs of expensive drugs


Twenty-dollar bill in a pill bottleBy Lisa Gillespie

More than half of large employers in 2016 will aim to more tightly manage employees’ use of high-priced specialty drugs, one of the fastest-growing expenses in their health plans.

Despite those efforts, companies still expect the cost of specialty drugs that are carefully administered to treat conditions such as cancer, HIV and hepatitis C to continue rising at a double-digit annual rate — well ahead of the pace for traditional pharmacy drugs or companies’ overall spending on health benefits, according to the National Business Group on Health.

55% of employers plan to direct employees to specialty pharmacies if they need high-cost drugs

.The group released a survey Wednesday that found 55 percent of employers next year plan to direct employees to specialty pharmacies if they need drugs that can cost thousands of dollars for a single treatment. That share was up from a third in the group’s survey a year ago on companies’ plans for 2015 health plans.


More companies also say they will require employees to get prior authorization before buying specialty drugs under the employer’s health plan — 53 percent vs. 29 percent a year ago. Continue reading


How Much Is That Eye Exam? Study Probes The Elusive Quest For Health Care Prices


EyeThe Pioneer Institute called the offices of 96 Massachusetts dentists, ophthamologists, dermatologists and gastroenterologists (the doctors who perform colonoscopies) last month, asking for the price of five basic services. The results show that prices vary widely. But getting the information wasn’t easy.


Women in combat zones can face difficulty getting some contraceptives


Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 12.43.44 PMBy Michelle Andrews

Next year, the military will officially lift restrictions on women in combat, the end of a process that may open up as many as 245,000 jobs that have been off limits to women.

But women who deploy overseas may continue to face obstacles in another area that can have a critical impact on their military experience: contraception.

It’s not a minor issue. Rates of unintended pregnancy among women in the military are 50 percent higher than those of women in the general population. And because of strict federal rules, their insurance does not generally cover abortion.

Rates of unintended pregnancy among women in the military are 50 percent higher than those of women in the general population.

Tricare, the health care plan for more than 9 million active and retired members of the military, covers most contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Active-duty service members pay nothing out of pocket. Spouses and dependents of service members may face copayments in some instances.

But all methods aren’t necessarily available at every military hospital and clinic, and overseas, for example, women may have difficulty getting refills of their specific type of birth control pill.

Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, says, “It is unfortunate that here we have the military, that has one of the best health care systems in the country, and where we still have a gap is in contraception.”

Fifteen percent of active duty service members are women, and 97 percent of them are of childbearing age.

In a 2013 study, based on more than 28,000 responses to the 2008 Department of Defense health-related behaviors survey, researchers found that after adjusting for the larger concentration of young women in the military, the rate of unintended pregnancy among military women was 7.8 percent, compared with 5.2 percent among women in the general population.

“It’s critically important to address unintended pregnancy in the military, because it can be particularly damaging to women’s careers, and it’s hard to access abortion care,” says Dr. Daniel Grossman, a study co-author who is vice president for research at Ibis Reproductive Health, a research and advocacy group.

Abortion is available at a military facility or covered by military health care only if a woman’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape. Women who want an abortion in other circumstances must use a non-military health care provider and pay for the procedure out of pocket, according to Department of Defense health officials.

Coverage for emergency contraception, meanwhile, has recently been expanded to all active duty service women and female beneficiaries without cost sharing.

It can be challenging to use contraceptives while deployed overseas for many reasons. There is the problem of trying to schedule a daily birth control pill when traveling across time zones, and desert conditions may make a contraceptive patch fall off. Although women are allowed a 180-day supply of contraceptives before deploying, obtaining refills of the same pill is sometimes difficult, some women reported in a 2012 study published in Contraception about access to contraception during deployment that was based on survey of 281 servicewomen.

Women also reported that they were told that contraceptives were unnecessary because having sex during deployment was forbidden or that they couldn’t receive an intrauterine device because they hadn’t yet given birth. Neither of those claims is true.

The majority of women surveyed also noted that they weren’t counseled about using contraception for either pregnancy prevention or menstrual suppression before deploying.

Pre-deployment counseling that specifically addresses women’s contraceptive needs could help counter confusion and ensure women have access to birth control methods that meet their needs. According to military health system officials, contraceptive and reproductive counseling is a covered benefit under Tricare and is an expected component of good clinical practice.

The House and Senate versions of the Pentagon’s spending bill for the fiscal year that begins in October contain measures that would affect contraception coverage in the military.

The Senate version of the bill would guarantee family planning education and counseling, while the House version would make available a broad range of FDA-approved contraceptives at military treatment facilities and ensure that women servicemembers have enough contraceptives to last for the duration of their deployment. A congressional conference committee is working to write a compromise between those two bills.

Defense Department officials said they had no comment on the pending legislation.

Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.


Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

khn_logo_lightKaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


To address doctor shortages, states focus on residencies


By Rebecca Beitsch

Last year, 369 students graduated from Iowa medical schools, but at least 131 of them had to finish their training elsewhere because Iowa had only 238 residency positions available.

The story was the same for at least 186 students who graduated from Missouri medical schools and 200 who studied at Tennessee schools.

States such as New York, California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were happy to take them—all four states took in more residents than students they trained.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 10.17.55 AM

This is the world of medical resident matching. When states don’t have enough residency positions for the medical students they’ve trained, they become resident exporters. When states have more residency positions than they have students to fill them, they become importers.  Continue reading