Monday, May 6th, 2013
One hundred forty eight people across four states were sickened in January 2012 with camphylobacter bacteria that was traced back to raw, or unpasteurized milk sold by a Pennsylvania dairy farm. As MSNBC.com reports, the milk outbreak affected people from ages 2 to 74, and is particularly alarming because the dairy had all its proper permits, and had passed all inspections required for selling unpasteurized milk:
The [CDC] report, which details what happened during the outbreak, said the dairy that sold the milk had a permit for selling unpasteurized milk, and had passed all inspections. The farm was among the largest sellers of unpasteurized milk in the state.
The dairy also tested its own milk for E. coli bacteria more often than was required. The vast majority of the sick people drank the milk before its “best by” date.
The only deficiencies that investigators found were that a mechanical milk bottle capper was broken, so employees had capped the bottles by hand, and that the water used to clean equipment was cooler than recommended (110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of 160 to 170 degrees F).
But these issues were “minimal,” and this campylobacter outbreak demonstrates “the ongoing hazards of unpasteurized dairy products,” according to the report authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments. The findings were detailed online April 26 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
“Raw milk is riskier than most foods,” said Douglas Powell, a professor of food safety at Kansas State University. While certainly a larger number of people get sick yearly from eating tainted tomatoes or lettuce, there are many more consumers of those foods than consumers of raw milk, he said.
Bacteria commonly found in the digestive tracts of farm animals, including campylobacter and E. coli O157, can easily find their way into milk as it is pumped and bottled on a farm, Powell said.
“Fecal matter just ends up in the milk — it’s not like you can see it,” he said. “No inspectors can see it — this isn’t CSI, where the bacteria just magically line up.”
Nearly a third of those sickened in the outbreak were children, the report said. Children, along with pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems, are at high risk of complications from campylobacter infections.
Powell said he advises that raw milk not be given to children. “As adults, you’re free to choose,” he said. “But don’t give it to your kids.”
Image: Milk via Shutterstock
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Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Circumcision may lower the risk of a boy becoming infected with HIV because of changes in bacteria that live around the circumcision site on the penis, a new study published in the journal mBio has found. The new finding builds on previous research that had associated circumcision with lower HIV, but had not identified a major cause for the association. More on the new study from CNN.com:
Relying on the latest technology that make sequencing the genes of organisms faster and more accessible, Lance Price of the Translational Genomics Research institute (TGen) and his colleagues conducted a detailed genetic analysis of the microbial inhabitants of the penis among a group of Ugandan men who provided samples before circumcision and again a year later.
While the men showed similar communities of microbes before the operation, 12 months later, the circumcised men harbored dramatically fewer bacteria that survive in low oxygen conditions. They also had 81% less bacteria overall compared to the uncircumcised men, and that could have a dramatic effect on the men’s ability to fight off infections like HIV, says Price.
Previous studies showed that circumcised men lowered their risk of transmitting HIV by as much as 50%, making the operation an important tool in preventing infection with the virus.
Why? A high burden of bacteria could disrupt the ability of specialized immune cells known as Langerhans cells to activate immune defenses.
Image: Newborn boy, via Shutterstock
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Friday, October 12th, 2012
A method of treating the bacteria that causes scarring acne–a major issue for teenagers–is getting more scientific attention even though it has been out of use for more than a half century. Scientists have reportedly identified 11 “good viruses” that could be deployed against the acne-causing bacteria in a treatment that went out of vogue with the advent of antibiotics during World War II. From Bloomberg.com:
The research re-energizes a century-old treatment method that was abandoned with the rise of antibiotics during World War II. As germs have built up a resistance to those drugs in recent years, scientists are seeking alternatives and the virus strategy “is in vogue again,” said Vincent Fischetti, a biologist at Rockefeller University in New York who is one of the pioneers of the revived approach.
The study of the acne-fighting viruses, called bacteriophages or simply phages, was published in the September- October edition of mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
In it, scientists found phages that live side-by-side with the P. acnes bacteria on the faces of people who don’t get bad acne, theorizing that the viruses somehow helped to keep it under control, said Laura Marinelli, the lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. The single-celled P. acnes bacteria that resides in pores can grow out of control in an oily environment.
Once they identified the viruses, the scientists found the viruses had the ability to kill isolates of the bacteria in lab dishes, opening the possibility they may one day be the basis for effective treatments for the most common skin disorder in the U.S., with more than 40 million sufferers.
Image: Teenager with acne, via Shutterstock
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Monday, August 20th, 2012
Cantaloupe melons grown in southwestern Indiana are being blamed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a salmonella poisoning outbreak that has touched lives in 20 states. This news comes just weeks after the Food & Drug Administration found listeria bacteria in cantaloupes and honeydews grown in North Carolina.
NBC News reports on the current salmonella outbreak:
At least 31 people have been hospitalized in connection with infections caused by salmonella Typhimurium tied to contaminated melons, the Centers for Disease Control reported late Friday. Illnesses have been reported from July 7 to Aug. 4, although those that occurred after July 26 may not be included yet.
Investigators said cantaloupes grown in the southwestern Indiana region were the likely source of the outbreak. Kentucky laboratory officials isolated the outbreak strain from two melons collected at a retail location in that state. The deaths were reported in Kentucky.
Officials are continuing to investigate whether other types of melons may also be linked to the outbreak, the CDC said. Officials with the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration did not identify an Indiana farm where the suspect cantaloupes were grown, the distributors who handled them or the stores where the melons were sold. However, they said the farm in question has agreed to suspend sales for the rest of the growing season.
Image: Cantaloupe melon, via Shutterstock
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Monday, January 30th, 2012
Johnson & Johnson, the consumer products company, has announced a voluntary recall of 2,200 bottles–a single lot–of its Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Lotion. The recall comes after the FDA conducted routine tests and found higher-than-allowed levels of coagulase-negative Staphylococci, which the company described as a family of bacteria that naturally occurs in the environment.
The lot number, embossed on the tube, is 0161LK. The product was distributed in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, the company said. It urged consumers who would like a refund to call 877-298-2525.
But Johnson & Johnson Vice President of Communications Bonnie Jacobs said the recall is being carried out at the retail level, and consumers who have bought the affected product can still use it. “They do not have to take any action,” she said.
The company’s news release described the potential for the lotion to adversely affect one’s health as “remote.”
(Image via: http://www.diapers.com/)
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