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Information – The International Outbreak Museum – Portland – Orgegon

Outbreak Museum

The International Outbreak Museum began in the office of Dr. Bill Keene in his early years investigating infectious disease outbreaks at the Oregon state health department. Bill realized early on that outbreak investigations are very public opportunities to teach large audiences about the kinds of foods and products that can become contaminated and cause widespread dissemination of disease. From one of the very first (and still the oldest) exhibits, an actual box of “Rely Tampons” that associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome and Staphylococcus aureus in 1978, to painstakingly reproduced products (like Sally Jackson artisanal raw milk cheese), the physical museum includes some pretty cool stuff. We’ve got bunches of restaurant menus, cans of contaminated leather spray, bottles of MRSA-contaminated tattoo ink and equipment, and packaging from many products that were recalled from the market because they caused outbreaks and made citizens sick.

The museum is part of The Northwest Center for Foodborne Outbreak Management, Epidemiology, and Surveillance (FOMES), a program that fosters the public health practice of foodborne and diarrheal disease surveillance and outbreak investigation. FOMES will be working to bring all of the physical IOM exhibits to digital life and feature them in their proper place on the web. Our hope is that Dr. Keene’s museum can be used to share the fascinating stories behind outbreak investigations. Please consider submitting information about your latest investigation (even if you didn’t find a smoking gun).

Research -Microbacteria can build up in your reusable water bottle

The Jakarta Post

Both oral and environmental bacteria and viruses could be building up on reusable water bottles that are not cleaned on a regular basis, according to a scientist from the Center for Ecology and Hydrology.

Senior scientist Andrew Singer was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post UK, where he explained that even E. coli could find its way into an unclean reusable water bottle.

“When you flush the toilet, the toilet water will get aerosolized and a fraction of the water droplets can land on and in your water bottle,” Singer explained.

Singer said that poor personal hygiene habits, such as rarely or not washing your hands after using the toilet, or taking your water bottle to the toilet with you, could increase the chances of getting serious infections.


Research – Soil bacteria provide a promising E. coli treatment

Medical Express

kswfoodworld E.coli O157

Image CDC


While thoroughly cooking meat and washing vegetables and hands after can prevent E. coli , treatment for the severe stomach bug can be difficult, as antibiotics are known to make the disease worse by releasing a potent toxin into the infected person’s gut.

Now, scientists from the University of Glasgow have found a product made by natural soil-living bacteria that can successfully treat E. coli O157 – [one of] the most serious types of the bug – without producing any serious side effects.

The new study, published in Infection and Immunity, found that Aurodox, a compound first discovered in 1973 but found to be poorly active as a true antibiotic, was able to successfully block E. coli O157 infections.

Scotland has one of the highest incidences of E. coli O157 in the world, and almost half of O157 cases in Scotland are in children under 16 years of age.

The Aurodox compound was able to reduce the ability of E. coli O157 to bind to human cells and, unlike traditional antibiotics, did not cause the release of potent toxins. The researchers believe that this compound could be used as a promising future treatment of E. coli O157 infections.

USA – Notes from the Field: Multiple Modes of Transmission During a Thanksgiving Day Norovirus Outbreak — Tennessee, 2017


On November 28, 2017, the manager of restaurant A in Tennessee reported receiving 18 complaints from patrons with gastrointestinal illness who had dined there on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017. Tennessee Department of Health officials conducted an investigation to confirm the outbreak, assess exposures, and recommend measures to prevent continued spread.

On November 23, one patron vomited in a private dining room, and an employee immediately used disinfectant spray labeled as effective against norovirus* to clean the vomitus. After handwashing, the employee served family-style platters of food and cut pecan pie. For the November 23 Thanksgiving Day, restaurant A served 676 patrons a limited menu from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The manager provided contact information, seating times, and seating locations for 114 patrons with reservations. All patrons with contact information were telephoned, and a questionnaire was used to assess illness and exposures for anyone living in the household who ate at restaurant A on November 23. Stool specimens were requested from ill patrons. Among the 676 patrons, 137 (20%) were enrolled in a case-control study.

A probable case was defined as diarrhea (three or more loose stools in 24 hours) or vomiting within 72 hours of eating at restaurant A on November 23; probable cases with norovirus RNA detected in a stool specimen by real-time reverse transcription–polymerase-chain reaction (RT-PCR) were considered confirmed. On November 30, environmental swabs for norovirus testing were collected in the restaurant. Patient and environmental samples were tested by real-time RT-PCR and sequenced at the Tennessee State Public Health Laboratory.

Thirty-six (26%) case-patients (two confirmed and 34 probable) and 101 (74%) controls were enrolled in the case-control study. Illness onsets occurred during November 23–25, with 17 of 35 (49%) cases occurring on November 24 (Figure). The mean incubation period was 31 hours (range = 2.5–54.5 hours), and the mean illness duration was 3 days (range = 0–6 days). Only one case-patient sought medical care. Diarrhea was reported by 33 (94%) case-patients, fatigue by 29 (83%), nausea and abdominal cramps by 28 (80%), vomiting by 24 (69%), and fever by six (17%).

Among menu items, only pecan pie was significantly associated with illness (odds ratio [OR] = 2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1–5.8); however, it was eaten by only 16 (47%) of 34 case-patients. The vomiting event occurred around noon; patrons seated during 11 a.m.–1 p.m. were significantly more likely to become ill than were patrons seated during other times (OR = 6.0; 95% CI = 2.6–15.3). No significant differences between dining locations (i.e., private dining room versus general seating) were identified (OR = 1.4; 95% CI = 0.4–4.3). Logistic regression was used to evaluate the effects of eating pecan pie, seating time, and seating location; only seating time during 11 a.m.–1 p.m. remained statistically significant (OR = 6.0; 95% CI = 2.2–16.5).

Stool specimens from two case-patients identified Norovirus GII.P16-GII.4 Sydney. Norovirus GII was identified in one environmental swab collected from the underside of a table leg adjacent to the vomitus.

UK – Avoid the unwanted gift of food poisoning this Christmas


With an estimated one million cases a year, food poisoning doesn’t stop over the festive season.

To save you and your loved ones from a nasty bout of food poisoning over the holidays, follow our advice:

  1. When Christmas food shopping, take enough bags with you so that you can separate out raw and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  2. Check the guidance on your turkey to ensure you have enough time to fully defrost it – it could take as many as 4 days.
  3. Don’t wash raw turkey – it just spreads germs further by splashing them onto your hands, clothes, utensils and worktops.
  4. To work out the cooking time for your bird, read the instructions on the packaging. Check that: the meat is steaming hot throughout, there is no pink meat visible when you cut into the thickest part and meat juices run clear.
  5. Whether you cooked your turkey from frozen or fresh, your turkey leftovers can be used to make a new meal (such as a turkey curry). This new meal can then be frozen, but make sure you only reheat it once.

Research – Innate antimicrobial immunity in the skin: A protective barrier against bacteria, viruses, and fungi


Innate immunity is an essential defense against pathogens

The epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, is a physical barrier against pathogens. However, breach of the skin barrier through wounding introduces a myriad of microbes to the site of injury. Upon disturbance of the epidermal barrier, the innate immune system and its effectors play a key role in protecting humans against cutaneous and systemic infection [1]. Major constituents of the innate immune system include phagocytic cells, such as macrophages, neutrophils, and dendritic cells, as well as innate leukocytes, such as natural killer (NK) cells, mast cells, basophils, and eosinophils. In addition, epidermal keratinocytes act as active innate immune cells. In response to sensing pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) expressed by microbes and host danger molecules, innate immune receptors present on keratinocytes become activated, causing release of inflammatory cytokines and host antimicrobial molecules [2, 3].

USA – Dozens fall ill Friday at assisted living center, but no new outbreaks as of Sunday

Bakersfield Now

An outbreak of illness hit the Brookdale Senior Living facility, 350 Calloway Drive, on Friday, sickening 32 residents.

Those who became ill suffered with vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, according to the Kern County Public Health Department.

“Six of the 32 were sent to the hospital initially and five have returned,” Michelle Corson, public relations officer for the Public Health Department, said. The sixth patient remained hospitalized on unrelated symptoms.

The good news, Corson said, is that no new cases have been reported since Sunday.

“We are continuing to work with the facility to figure out what happened,” she said. “We are in full investigation mode.”

Two environmental health specialists and two public health epidemiologists from the county are on-site investigating the situation, Corson said. The environment team looks at possible food-borne illness, while the epidemiologists look at disease-related causes.