Google+ Badge

Friday, August 24, 2012

E. coli 104H4 Mutated into a More Dangerous Form

Last summer, 4,236 people were sick and 50 people were killed by E. coli 104H4. This was the largest outbreak on record caused by a foodborne pathogen. The outbreak occurred in Germany and France. The only people who got sick in the United States had just come from Germany or France.

This outbreak was caused by infected bean sprouts. Rather, the seeds that were used to make the bean sprouts were infected. Because sprouts are grown in water, it is easy for bacteria to spread from one sprout to another. Because of the ease with which bacteria spreads in sprouts, it is advisable for children under 6 or people over the age of 65 not to eat raw bean sprouts.

E. coli 104H4 attaches to the colon and causes bloody diarrhea and can cause Kidney failure. This strain of E.coli is particularly dangerous because it is resistant to 14 different antibiotics.and can only be treated with the class of antibiotics called carbapenems.

The other thing that makes E. coli 104H4 hard to treat is that it clumps together in large groups so it is difficult for antibiotics or the immune system to kill the bacteria in the middle. The carbapenems attack the E. coli when it divides into two cells, making the new E. coli cell shed its skin. Without any skin it will not survive very long.

So far there have been no outbreaks of E. coli 104H4 in the United States. But since food is shipped around the world, it would be no surprise to see it in the U.S. Some bacteria have already shown resistance to carbapenems. It is possible that we will have totally drug resistant E. coli in the near future.

To solve the problem of drug resistance, we need to make Phage Therapy available. So far it is only available in Poland, Russia, and the Republic of Georgia. Phage Therapy should be more effective against E Coli 104H4 because of the way phage attack bacteria.The phage virus sends its DNA into the E. coli, using the energy in the E. coli to replicate itself. After it makes 50 or more Phages, they split open the E. coli and go out to find other E.coli to infect. Because E. coli 104H4 is clumped together, the Phage would easily find and destroy them, where antibiotics have difficulty even penetrating the cluster.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Two Dead - A Bad Year For Cantaloupe!!!

Two Dead - A Bad Year For Cantaloupe!!!

Several farms in Southeastern Indiana have stopped shipping cantaloupe while the FDA is investigating to find out which farm has the melons that are infected with salmonella. As a precautionary measure, Walmart has taken all cantaloupe from southeastern Indiana off their shelves.

So far, two people are dead, 31 have been hospitalized, and 141 people have been reported as being infected. Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have reported cases. More cases are expected.

The California Cantaloupe Growers put out a statement that California cantaloupe have never been responsible for any outbreak of foodborne pathogens. In fact, most growers are doing a good job of keeping us safe. But a few growers are making people sick, which hurts the whole industry because people shy away from cantaloupe.

There are 167,033 Registered Domestic Facilities that the FDA has to inspect. Of these they have personally inspected 11,007 facilities this year. The FDA is critically underfunded. The FDA's funding is through the USDA; the USDA keeps 80 % of the money and gives 20 % to the FDA.

The FDA needs to be funded by the Department of Health rather than by an agency that is in the business of promoting agriculture. This way we could improve the safety of the products we eat.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Urinary Tract Infections Caused by Chickens


A recent Canadian study found that the drug-resistant E. coli found on the chicken we eat is genetically the same as the E. coli that causes urinary tract infections (UTIs) in humans. They checked the E. coli found on beef and pork and found they were less likely to be genetically the same as this human UTI bacteria. The Canadian researchers suggest that chicken is the most probable source of the E. coli that causes UTIs.

E. coli is the leading cause UTIs in humans, causing more than 85% of these infections. Each year there are 6 – 8 million UTIs diagnosed in the United States, and 130 – 175 million worldwide. Costs related to uncomplicated UTIs in the United States are $1 – $2 billion per year. UTIs can also lead to more severe illnesses, such as pyelonephritis, bacteremia, and sepsis. During the past decade, the emergence of drug-resistant E. coli has dramatically increased. Because of this it has become harder to cure UTIs and the risks for treatment failure are higher, thus increasing hospital costs.

Almost 100% of the chickens we eat have drug-resistant bacteria on them because they are given antibiotics mixed with their feed. Because antibiotics make the animals grow faster, it is unlikely factory farms will give up this practice any time soon.

So what can be done? There are a variety of ways to approach the problem. More effectively fighting infection would be an important step. In Poland, they have found they could dramatically improve outcomes and reduce costs by using Phage Therapy instead of antibiotics. Not only is Phage Therapy cheaper, the reduced time that the patient has to stay in the hospital saves money.

Careful safety precautions help. If you eat chicken, make sure to cook it thoroughly. Wash your hands and disinfect all surfaces in the area where the chicken was prepared.

However, prevention is the key to solving this problem. Eliminating or strongly curtailing the use of antibiotics in meat production could do much toward reducing the incidence of drug-resistant bacteria, but as previously mentioned, this is unlikely to be a voluntary effort on the part of meat producers. Avoiding chicken certainly reduces your personal risk. Look into the benefits of a plant-based diet.

More informatiom on the Canadian study.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Burch Farms Recall Expanded to Honeydews

Burch Farms Recall Expanded to Honeydews

Burch Farms has increased their recall to include to include honeydew. These honeydew were not labeled. If you purchased a honeydew without a label, you can contact the store where it was purchased to see if it was part of the recall.

Because of unsanitary conditions in there packing shed, Burch Farms is expanding the recall to include everything that was packed there.

In other news, Jensen Farms - whose cantaloupe caused 30 deaths last year - has gone bankrupt and the government is investigating as to whether they should file criminal charges.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Onions and Cantaloupe Recalled Due to Listeria Contamination

Onions and Cantaloupe Recalled Due to Listeria Contamination

The FDA found Listeria in onions produced by Gills Onions, LLC in a retail store. Later they found Listeria in one of their packing plants. Gills Onions, LLC is the largest producer of onions that are chopped, slivered, or peeled. They also produce chopped celery. They initiated a voluntary recall of all products made at this plant. Most of their products are used as ingredients in other products. Their products are distributed throughout the United States and Canada. You can check for more information on the recall.

They have not found any listeria in the other products that have been recalled. So far, no cases are reported of illness from the onions. Gills Onions, LLC has hired a bacteriologist to help them improve the safety of their products.

On Saturday, North Carolina's Burch Farms and Hannaford Supermarkets recalled 188,902
cantaloupes due to possible contamination with Listeria. These were shipped out between July 15 to July 27. The cantaloupes have a red label that reads 'Burch Farms' and 'Cantaloupe PLU 4319.' Some of the cantaloupe are branded as "Cottle Strawberry, Inc They were shipped to to FL, GA, IL, MD, ME, NC, NJ, NY, PA, SC and VA.

If you purchased on of these, please throw it out. So far no one has reported any illness from these cantaloupe.

Hopefully no one will get sick from these onions or cantaloupe, but. Listeria is very dangerous. Twenty percent of those who get a Listeria infection will die. Just last August, 33 died from Listeria-infected cantaloupe from Jenson Farms in Colorado.

This time, the FDA seems to have done a good job of protecting the American public. But they are working with their hands tied behind their back. Congress only gives the FDA enough money to inspect three percent of the produce that we eat.

Better Way to Treat Whooping Cough

The Center for Disease Control announced that in Washington State there was a 1300% increase in cases of whooping cough over 2011. As of July 14, they had 3014 reported cases, the most since 1942. They think the real number is much higher. The heartbreaking part of this is that babies and young children the ones most likely to die.

There is an increase in cases of whooping cough all over the United States, but not as dramatic as in Washington. Some think the bacteria causing whooping cough may have become more virulent. The Center for Disease Control feels they may have to have people vaccinated more often.

One of the problems is that adults do not get vaccinated. Even though adults don’t usually die from whooping cough, they can infect children. It is especially important that pregnant women should get vaccinated. Right now it is suggested that adults get vaccinated every 10 years, but considering the increase in cases that will likely be reduced in the near future.

The antibiotics used to treat children with whooping cough have many side effects. Here is an incomplete list to give you an idea of the problems:

  • Azithromycin - diarrhea, nausea, fever, headache, blistering peeling red skin.

  • Erythromycin - diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain,vomiting, arrhythmia, reversible deafness, anaphylaxis, psychotic reactions.
  • Clarithromycin - diarrhea, nausea, severe allergic reactions, bloody stools,depression, dizziness, fast or irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of taste or smell, red swollen blistered or peeling skin, tremor, and trouble sleeping.
  • TMP-SMZ - allergic reactions, severe liver damage, renal failure, aseptic meningitis, hallucinations, apathy and shortness of breath.

One of the main reasons I am in favor of using Phage Therapy is because there are no side effects and there is less likelihood of secondary infections. Antibiotics kill good as well as bad bacteria. Many people are aware that good bacteria help us digest food, but the good bacteria also help our immune system fight off disease. Since Phage Therapy is very selective, it only kills the bacteria that is causing your illness.