Category Archives: outbreak

USA – FDA says poor records stalled outbreak work; feedlot likely source of E. coli

Food Safety News

Federal officials won’t say definitively that contaminated canal water was behind this year’s deadly E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, but they are saying they “found no evidence in support of alternative explanations.” 

Another point made clear in an outbreak investigation report released yesterday puts the FDA firmly on record when it comes to antiquated shipping and receiving recordkeeping used by many in the leafy greens industry. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, issued a blunt statement calling for growers, processors and distributors to do the right thing.  

Gottlieb said what consumer groups and industry observers have been saying for months — traceback efforts to determine the specific romaine behind the outbreak were “challenging” because most of the necessary records were hand written and/or were not available electronically. Those out-of-date methods resulted in the FDA and CDC telling the public to avoid all romaine grown in the Yuma, AZ, area earlier this year because specific growers and shippers could not be identified. 

“We strongly encourage the leafy greens industry to adopt traceability best practices and state-of-the-art technologies to help assure quick and easy access to key data elements from farm to fork,” Gottlieb said.

Sweden/Austria – Hepatitis A outbreak linked to imported frozen strawberries by sequencing, Sweden and Austria, June to September 2018


Hepatitis A virus is an important cause of food-borne diseases and has been associated with several European outbreaks linked to berries [14]. Here, we describe an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in Sweden and Austria and the confirmation of frozen strawberries imported from Poland as the source of infection. The aims are to highlight the importance of sequencing in outbreak investigations and, due to the long shelf-life of the food vehicle, to increase awareness and warnings towards HAV infections related to frozen strawberries in Europe

On 14 June 2018, the Public Health Agency of Sweden (PHAS) received a notification from the Regional Office of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention of a suspected local outbreak of HAV in County A with five cases. An epidemiological investigation was initiated by county A together with PHAS and the National Food Agency (NFA).

Between 11 June and 27 July 2018, 20 confirmed and probable cases were reported from six counties

USA – Legionnaires’ disease: Lower Washington Heights cluster rises to 14

Outbreak News Today Legionella_Plate_01

In a follow-up on the Legionnaires’ disease cluster reported in Lower Washington Heights in northern Manhattan, New York City health officials report the case count has risen to 14.

The Health Department is actively investigating these cases and is sampling and testing water from all active cooling tower systems in the area of the cluster.

This is the second Legionnaires’ disease cluster reported in Lower Washington Heights this year.

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that is caused by the bacteria Legionella, which grows in warm water. Symptoms resemble other types of pneumonia and can include fever, chills, muscle aches, and cough. Most cases of Legionnaires’ disease can be traced to plumbing systems where conditions are favorable for Legionella growth, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems.

Individuals may be infected by breathing in water vapor containing Legionella, and the disease is not transmitted from person to person. Individuals at higher risk include those ages 50 and above, cigarette smokers, and people with chronic lung disease or compromised immune systems. People living or working in the area who are experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention with a primary care provider or seek urgent care.

USA – Notes from the Field: Multiple Cyclosporiasis Outbreaks — United States, 2018

CDC Cyclospora_LifeCycle201

Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis through ingestion of fecally contaminated food or water. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis might include watery diarrhea (most common), loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Typically, increased numbers of cases are reported in the United States during spring and summer; since the mid-1990s, outbreaks have been identified and investigated almost every year. Past outbreaks have been associated with various types of imported fresh produce (e.g., basil, cilantro, and raspberries) (1). There are currently no validated molecular typing tools* to facilitate linking cases to each other, to food vehicles, or their sources. Therefore, cyclosporiasis outbreak investigations rely primarily on epidemiologic data.

The 2018 outbreak season is noteworthy for multiple outbreaks associated with different fresh produce items and the large number of reported cases. Two multistate outbreaks resulted in 761 laboratory-confirmed illnesses. The first outbreak, identified in June, was associated with prepackaged vegetable trays (containing broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots) sold at a convenience store chain in the Midwest; 250 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported in persons with exposures in three states (illness onset mid-May–mid-June) (2). The supplier voluntarily recalled the vegetable trays (3). The second multistate outbreak, identified in July, was associated with salads (containing carrots, romaine, and other leafy greens) sold at a fast food chain in the Midwest; 511 laboratory-confirmed cases during May–July occurred in persons with exposures in 11 states who reported consuming salads (4). The fast food chain voluntarily stopped selling salads at approximately 3,000 stores in 14 Midwest states that received the implicated salad mix from a common processing facility (5). The traceback investigation conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not identify a single source or potential point of contamination for either outbreak.

RASFF Alerts – Histamine -Chilled Yellowfin Tuna – Skipjack Tuna – Chilled Tuna


RASFF-foodborne outbreak caused by histamine (1358; 1565; 1739 mg/kg – ppm) in chilled yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) from Sri Lanka in Italy

RASFF-histamine (466 mg/kg – ppm) in frozen skipjack tuna (Euthynnnus pelamis) from Vietnam in Spain

RASFF-histamine (259 mg/kg – ppm) in chilled tuna from Italy in France

USA – FDA Investigated Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salad



The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local partners, investigated a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella illnesses linked to Spring Pasta Salad sold at Hy-Vee locations in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Update – September 5, 2018

On September 5, 2018, the investigational activities related to this outbreak concluded.

USA – Salmonella Honey Smacks now linked to 130 illnesses in 36 States

Food Poison Journal

As of August 30, 2018, 130 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Mbandaka have been reported from 36 states – AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV.


Illnesses started on dates from March 3, 2018, to August 7, 2018. Ill people range in age from less than one year to 95, with a median age of 57. Of ill people, 69% are female. Out of 98 people with information available, 34 (35%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Illnesses that occurred after August 4, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when their illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks.