Category Archives: Food Virus

USA – Famous Anthony’s owners filing for bankruptcy in wake of Hepatitis A outbreak

Food Safety News

Owners of a Roanoke, VA, restaurant chain have closed one location and are filing bankruptcy for two others in relation to a deadly hepatitis A outbreak that swept through the community this past fall.

At least four people have died, more than 50 were sickened and 36 people were hospitalized in the outbreak associated with an infected employee who worked at three Famous Anthony’s locations. An infected person can transmit the virus to others up to two weeks before and one week after symptoms appear. 

Attorney Andrew Goldstein said the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing allows the company to reorganize and remain open. In 90 days, the company owners will submit a plan outlining a payment schedule for the people who have claims against their restaurants.

Sweden – Report on food poisoning in Sweden during 2020. 

Livsmedelsverket

The report describes how many people become ill from the food, which are the most common infectious agents and foods that cause the disease cases, where in the food chain the designated foods are contaminated, which countries of origin were indicated for the designated foods, what contributing factors were identified, seasonal variation and changes in recent years. The results from the report provide information to those who have an interest or need for this type of knowledge in their profession and not least to show and give feedback on the valuable work performed by those who investigate, report and otherwise study food poisoning.

Summary Reported Foodborne Illness in Sweden 2020
This Report compiles food poisonings reported to the Swedish Food Agency in 2020. A new online form for submitting reports to the Swedish Food Agency was launched in January 2020, aiming to raise the quality of reported data. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic was ongoing also, which affected the number of food poisoning outbreaks during the year.
By food poisoning is meant here an illness caused by eating food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins. The main purpose of the compilation is to support food poisoning investigations in several ways:
by giving the present position of the most recent food poisonings;
by presenting data that can be used to connect different pathogens to different kinds of foods.by making it possible to follow the development of different combinations;
by making it possible to implement risk management measures as effectively as possible.
The Swedish Food Agency regulation LIVSFS 2005:7 instructs municipal control authorities, in co-operation with health professionals, the County Administrative Board and the Public Health Agency of Sweden, to conduct epidemiological investigations of foodborne outbreaks.
The results must be reported to the Swedish Food Agency without delay. Health Agency and Swedish Food Agency in consultation supplement the control authorities’ reports with reports on local and national outbreaks.
The Report is based on 173 reported events of suspected or confirmed food poisoning with a total of 1,314 cases of illness. In 160 of the reports it was stated that two or more persons were infected from the same source. When compared to the 2019 compilation, we can note that both the number of reports and cases of illness were almost halved in 2020.
This reduction may be due to the restrictions and recommendations introduced in connection to Covid-19 pandemic. For example, there were fewer people using restaurant services, better hand hygiene among people handling food and the cancellation of major public events where food may have been served.
Most reports indicated that the cause was unknown (71%), however for 44% of the reported cases virus was cited as the cause. This is due to 23 outbreaks with 571 cases of illness where the cause was virus. Norovirus continues to cause major outbreaks (22 food poisoning outbreaks with a total of 513 cases), followed by campylobacter which was reported in 4 outbreaks with 158 cases, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, an unusual foodborne pathogen in Sweden, was associated with one outbreak of 50 cases of illness.
The food categories that had the most reported cases of illness were bakery products (210 cases), chicken (155 cases) and foods from the sea (164 cases).Bakery products were a source of infection in outbreaks where norovirus and STEC (Shigatoxin-producing E. coli) were the cause -200 cases and 10 cases, respectively.

Chicken was a source of infection in outbreaks where Campylobacter was the cause -155 cases.
When the source of infection was food from the sea, norovirus in oysters was the cause most cases of illness (124 cases), followed by Vibrio parahaemolyticus in seagrass (50 cases) and histamine in fish (34 cases).
The number of food poisoning reports was highest during the first quarter: between January to March there were 63 reports in, with a total of 634 cases of illness. This is due to both a number of oyster-related outbreaks early in the year and fewer outbreaks occurred during the rest of the year due to restrictions and hygiene recommendations during the covid-19 pandemic. For almost 65% of the disease cases, the source of contamination was food contaminated early in the production chain, e.g. industrial facilities, from which the food was then widely distributed (industry 30 %, primary production 3% and other 31.5%). In order to reduce the number of food poisonings, it is therefore important to have good systems for food safety in primary production and such facilities.
The most commonly mentioned contributing factor was incorrect storage with respect to time and temperature. This factor was listed in 21 reports. For example, this may refer to inappropriate temperature when keeping food heated, or not low enough temperature in cold storage. The second most common factor was “a contaminated ingredient”, as stated in 11 reports.
There is often no information about the country of origin of the implicated food products. This may be due to the fact that this information is optional in the reporting form. It can be also difficult to know in which country viruses or bacteria contaminated a food product.
The reporting authority usually does not have access to information about whether patients have received hospital care. However in 5 reports, it was stated that a total of 7 people received hospital care. No deaths were reported.

Click to access l-2021-nr-23-rapporterade-misstankta-matforgiftningar-2020.pdf

USA – 11 Hepatitis A cases linked to Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria

Food Poison Journal

The Montgomery County Office of Public Health (OPH) announced today the temporary closure of Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in West Norriton in relation to a Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) outbreak in the county. The restaurant will be closed until further notice while the investigation continues.

At this time, 11 total cases are under investigation, with 9 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A and 2 potential cases of Hepatitis A. Of the 9 confirmed cases, 7 people were hospitalized. To date, one death is confirmed and one additional death is under investigation.

USA – One death confirmed, another under investigation in Pennsylvania hepatitis A outbreak; officials name restaurant

Food Safety News

The Montgomery County Office of Public Health in Pennsylvania announced today the temporary closure of Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in West Norriton in relation to a deadly hepatitis A virus outbreak.

County officials say the restaurant will be closed until further notice while the investigation continues.

Authorities believe the outbreak began in late November, and current data suggests that the outbreak “no longer presents a risk.” However, officials are continuing to look into the situation.

Per standard public health protocols, the county health department coordinated with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to issue a health advisory on Wednesday, but the restaurant was not named at that time. The county continues to receive additional information to support its investigation and identify additional potential cases.

Investigation conducted to date suggests the exposure occurred in late November and no longer presents a risk. However, additional investigation into probable cases resulting from the health advisory associated with this outbreak are underway.

USA – Fourth person dies in hepatitis A outbreak traced to Virginia restaurants

Food Safety News

A fourth person has died in a hepatitis A outbreak traced to Famous Anthony’s restaurants in Roanoke Valley in Virginia.

Larry Vest died on Christmas after fighting the liver disease for months. His wife Diane, who was also infected, died in the fall of 2021. 

More than 50 people were infected with the hepatitis A virus in relation to an infected employee who worked at three Famous Anthony’s locations at Grandin Road Extension, Williamson Road and Crystal Spring Avenue, according to public health officials. Infected people may not show symptoms for up to two weeks while they are contagious.

James Hamlin, a Roanoke County man, died Oct. 8. The name of the other person who died has not been released. About 30 people have been so sick from the virus that they had to be admitted to hospitals.

Hepatitis A can be prevented with a vaccine. Vaccines are generally available from primary care providers, occupational health care clinics or health departments.

USA – Wendy’s patrons may have been exposed to hepatitis A; still time for treatment for some

Food Safety News

The Arkansas Department of Health  is warning of possible hepatitis A exposures after an employee of Wendy’s at 721 North Arkansas, in Russellville tested positive for the virus.

Anyone who ate at the restaurant between Dec. 12, 2021, and Jan. 3, 2022, should seek care immediately if they have never been vaccinated against hepatitis A or are unsure of their vaccine status.

There are no specific treatments once a person contracts the liver virus. However, it can be prevented through vaccination. It can also be prevented from developing in people who have been exposed if a medicine called immune globulin is administered within two weeks of exposure. This medicine contains antibodies from other people who are immune to hepatitis A.

Research – Main Groups of Microorganisms of Relevance for Food Safety and Stability

NCBI

Microbiology is important to food safety, production, processing, preservation, and storage. Microbes such as bacteria, molds, and yeasts are employed for the foods production and food ingredients such as production of wine, beer, bakery, and dairy products. On the other hand, the growth and contamination of spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms is considered as one of the main causes to loss of foodstuff nowadays. Although technology, hygienic strategies, and traceability are important factors to prevent and delay microbial growth and contamination, food remains susceptible to spoilage and activity of pathogen microorganisms. Food loss by either spoilage or contaminated food affects food industry and consumers leading to economic losses and increased hospitalization costs. This chapter focuses on general aspects, characteristics, and importance of main microorganisms (bacteria, yeasts, molds, virus, and parasites) involved in food spoilage or contamination: known and recently discovered species; defects and alterations in foodstuff; most common food associated with each foodborne disease; resistance to thermal processing; occurrence in different countries; outbreaks; and associated symptoms.

UK – Estimating deaths from foodborne disease in the UK for 11 key pathogens

NCBI

Objective

To estimate the number of deaths from foodborne disease in the UK from 11 key pathogens.

Design

Four different models were developed using data from a range of sources. These included enhanced surveillance, outbreaks, death certificates and hospital episode statistics data. For each model, median estimates were produced with 95% credible intervals (CrI). The results from the different models were compared.

Results

The estimates for foodborne deaths for each pathogen from the different models were consistent, with CrIs largely overlapping. Based on the preferred model for each pathogen, foodborne norovirus is estimated to cause 56 deaths per year (95% CrI 32 to 92), foodborne Salmonella 33 deaths (95% CrI 7 to 159), foodborne Listeria monocytogenes 26 deaths (95% CrI 24 to 28), foodborne Clostridium perfringens 25 deaths (95% CrI 1 to 163) and foodborne Campylobacter 21 deaths (95% CrI 8 to 47). The considerable overlap in the CrIs means it is not possible to make any firm conclusions on ranking. Most of these deaths occur in those aged over 75 years. Foodborne deaths from ShigellaCryptosporidiumGiardia, adenovirus, astrovirus and rotavirus are all rare.

Conclusions

We estimate that there are 180 deaths per year in the UK (95% CrI 113 to 359) caused by foodborne disease based on these 11 pathogens. While this is a small fraction of the estimated 2.4 million cases of foodborne illness per year it still illustrates the potential severity of these illnesses demonstrating the importance in continuing efforts to reduce these infections.

Keywords: infectious disease, CampylobacterSalmonella

Summary box

What is already known about this subject?

  • Foodborne disease is a common illness in the UK.

  • Previous research has estimated that there are 566 000 cases, 74 000 general practitioner presentations and 7600 hospital admissions related to foodborne disease from 13 known pathogens in UK; no estimate was made for deaths.

  • Campylobacter and norovirus are the most common foodborne pathogens in the UK.

  • Other common foodborne pathogens include Clostridium perfringens and Salmonella.

What are the new findings?

  • This study provides updated estimates of deaths for each of the 11 key foodborne pathogens considered; in total, these 11 pathogens cause 180 deaths per year in the UK (95% credible interval (CrI) 113 to 359).

  • Among them, Campylobacter, C. perfringens, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella and norovirus pathogens are responsible for over 98% of these deaths.

  • Ranking between these five is difficult due to overlapping CrIs.

How might it impact on clinical practice in the foreseeable future?

  • This highlights the potential severity of Salmonella, L. monocytogenesC. perfringensCampylobacter and norovirus, particularly in comparison with other infectious intestinal diseases that have a food source.

USA – Hepatitis A outbreak linked to unnamed Italian restaurant in Montgomery County Pennsylvania – 8 cases with 1 death – Hepatitis A scare tied to Russellville Arkansas Wendy’s

Food Poison Journal

Food Safety News reports that State officials are reporting a hepatitis A outbreak among patrons of an unnamed Italian restaurant in Pennsylvania. One death is being investigated as part of the outbreak.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Montgomery County Office of Public Health are investigating the outbreak in southeast Pennsylvania.

Health officials report that there are eight confirmed patients among Pennsylvania residents in Montgomery County. Of seven people with information available, six have been so sick they had to be admitted to hospitals.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable, liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus ranging in severity from mild infection lasting a few weeks to severe disease lasting several months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The virus usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests microscopic amounts of it from objects, food or drinks contaminated by an infected person.

Research – USA – Hepatitis A

Food Safety News

As of Nov. 9, 2021, health officials in Roanoke, Virginia, confirmed a total of 50 primary cases and two secondary cases of hepatitis A linked to a hepatitis A positive food service employee who worked at three Famous Anthony’s restaurants. Of those 52 cases, there have been at least 31 hospitalizations with one liver transplant, and unfortunately, three deaths. 

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious disease that attacks the liver. It is also the only vaccine-preventable foodborne illness. Hepatitis A vaccines are available and given out nationwide for free by local health departments, or at a cost of less than $100. 

So why aren’t all food workers vaccinated against hepatitis A? Your guess is as good as mine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hepatitis A vaccines are safe and effective at preventing hepatitis A infections. Severe allergic reactions following vaccination are rare, and the common side effects are usually mild and last 1-2 days. 

Had the food service employee who exposed patrons of three Famous Anthony’s restaurants been vaccinated, the Seattle law firm Marler Clark would not be representing 27 individuals in this outbreak and the families of two who died.  The cost to this restaurant will be in the tens of millions of dollars and will likely result in bankruptcy.

In the link above is what employers of food service employees and the CDC can do to prevent future illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.