jueves, 9 de abril de 2009

U.S. Food Safety No Longer Improving

New efforts are needed urgently 

 After decades of steady progress, the safety of the nation’s food supply is no longer improving. And in the case of Salmonella — the dangerous bacteria recently found in peanuts and pistachios — infections may be creeping upward.

In 2008, 16 out of 100,000 people in the United States had laboratory-confirmed cases of salmonella infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That translates into about 48,000 serious illnesses, since individual stool samples are sent to labs generally only when someone is suffering a severe bout. In 2005, the figure was 14 people per 100,000 — or about 42,000 cases of laboratory-confirmed salmonella infections.

The apparent increase in Salmonella is not statistically significant and could be a statistical fluke, according to the disease centers. Across a range of different food-borne illnesses, there has been no statistically significant change over the past three years in the share of the nation’s population that has been severely sickened by food.

But health experts said the lack of improvement was disheartening. And in the case of Salmonella, the numbers mean that the nation is unlikely to meet goals created in 2000 under the government’s “Healthy People 2010” program to reduce the incidence of salmonella infections to about half its current level.

“This highlights the urgent need to overhaul our food-safety system,” said Erik D. Olson, director of food and consumer product safety at the Pew Charitable Trusts. “In some cases, there are early indications that progress may be reversing for some diseases. The children and elderly in our families are most at risk, and it is our duty to better safeguard them.”

Roughly 76 million people in the United States suffer food-borne illnesses each year, 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die, according to estimates by the disease centers. Children younger than 4 are sickened by food more than those in any other age group, but adults over age 50 suffer more hospitalizations and death as a result of food-related infections.

Since 1996, when the system began, the burden of illness from Campylobacter, Listeria, Shigella, E. coli 0157 and Yersinia has decreased, although all of that decrease occurred before 2004. There has been no statistically significant change in the incidence of salmonella and Cryptosporidium and there has been a marked increase in cases of Vibrio, a relatively rare disease mostly associated with raw oysters.

There are unexplained variations in infection rates among the 10 states in the FoodNet system. The incidence of Campylobacter, for instance, is highest in California while Salmonella infections are highest in New Mexico and Georgia. Geographic differences in diet may be the cause, officials said.

“The lack of recent progress toward the national health objective targets and the occurrence of large multistate outbreaks point to gaps in the current food safety system and the need to continue to develop and evaluate food safety practices as food moves from the farm to the table,” disease center epidemiologists wrote in a note accompanying the release of FoodNet’s latest data. “You can only tell people so much to wash their cutting boards and wash their hands,” Dr. Jones said. “I think we’re running out of things to do to make dramatic improvements.”

miércoles, 8 de abril de 2009

Un muerto y 11 casos por nueva cepa de Listeria monocytogenes

Nuevo brote de listeriosis en Santiago, clon es distinto al del 2008

Un nuevo brote epidémico de listeriosis ataca en la Región Metropolitana (Colina y Lampa), donde hasta ayer se habían detectado 11 casos confirmados, incluidos una muerte, un anciano con sepsis y dos abortos provocados por la presencia de la bacteria, que ya se detectó en la zona oriente de la capital durante el año pasado.
El caso de muerte corresponde a un adulto mayor, que desarrolló una septicemia a causa del mal, a este episodio se suman una muerte fetal y un aborto.
Durante el brote de 2008 hubo 119 infectados y cinco casos de muertes, y la "Listeria monocytogenes" estaba presente en una variedad de queso blando de la empresa "Chevrita", pero esta vez la cepa de la bacteria es distinta, por lo que debe pesquisarse cuál es la fuente de contagio.
Este patógeno adquiere por la ingestión de alimentos contaminados y en pacientes inmunodeprimidos puede
causar distintas meningitis y septicemia, y la muerte en el 30% de los afectados.
La detección del brote se logró tras confirmar que el "clon" involucrado por PFGE es distinto al detectado el año 2008. Como los 11 casos reportados tienen el mismo clon las autoridades piensan que debieron ingerir un mismo alimento.
La autoridad sanitaria está estudiando la posibilidad de que sea un tipo de cecina la responsable del brote, se espera los resultados de los análisis de los alimentos que consumieron las 9 personas afectadas. En cualquier caso se reiteró  las recomendaciones para que las personas consuman carnes y pescados bien cocidos y evitar la contaminación cruzada  manteniendo separados los alimentos crudos de los cocidos.

miércoles, 1 de abril de 2009

Vibrio parahaemolyticus-killing virus identifed

Vp58.5 phage induce Vibrio  lysis.

A virus known to attack and weaken marine-borne bacteria has been responsible for fewer cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus-infected humans, a Chilean scientist discovered.The Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacterium lives in marine waters and ‘hides’ in shellfish and fish. When these products are consumed by people, the organism travels to the colon and produces such discomforts as diarrhoea. According to official statistics, some 8,000 people were intoxicated in the region of Los Lagos in 2005. This summer, however, the figure did not rise above 800 cases of infection.

Researcher Romilio Espejo, of the University of Chile's Nutrition and Food Technology Institute (INTA), discovered that the virus Vp58.5, when not immeditately fatal to the bacteria, mortally infects it.Vibrio parahaemolyticus was detected in Chile in 1998, in Antofagasta, and later in the Los Lagos region. Two years before, the same strain has appeared on the coasts of Vietnam, El Mercurio reports.

"This pandemic strain is the first such pathogen to have dispersed around the world,” Espejo explained. The Vp58.5 is a specific virus that does not attack any other bacterium. The scientist confirmed that the first attack wipes out 30 per cent of the bacteria and remains latent in those that survive. Only one in 10 million is immune, he uncovered.

But those bacteria carrying the latent virus are "cursed," as the virus multiplies and kills under sun exposure. This explains the fall in intoxication cases, Espejo explained. Even though Vietnam and Antofagasta are already free of the strain, to soon be joined by the Los Lagos region, the INTA expert stated his research will continue given that the virus and the bacteria mutate constantly and creating new defences.

Future versions of the virus may be used to eliminate the mutated bacteria, when the latter manifests, Espejo speculated.

Consumer measures preventing Vibrio parahaemolyticus intoxication include: consuming only cooked shellfish and fish; Keeping the cold chain uninterrupted before consumption, as bacteria proliferate at room temperature or under the heat of the sun.

Source: Applied and Environmental Microbiology magazine, March 2009

Pistachio Product Recalls: Salmonella Updated:March 31, 2009

The FDA and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) are investigating Salmonella contamination in pistachio products sold by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc, Calif. The company has stopped all distribution of processed pistachios and will issue a voluntary recall involving approximately 1 million pounds of its products. Because the pistachios were used as ingredients in a variety of foods, it is likely this recall will impact many products. In addition, the investigation at the company is ongoing and may lead to additional pistachio product recalls.

The contamination involves multiple strains of Salmonella. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Thus far, several illnesses have been reported by consumers that may be associated with the pistachios. It is not yet known whether any of the Salmonella strains found in the pistachio products are linked to an outbreak. The FDA is conducting genetic testing of the samples to pursue all links.

Fuente: http://www.fda.gov/pistachios/