WFXR reports that the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts announced Tuesday that the number of people infected with hepatitis A more than doubled over the last two weeks following an outbreak at three Famous Anthony’s locations, going from 14 to 35 cases.

Health officials first reported the outbreak on Sept. 24, saying that a person who worked at three different Famous Anthony’s locations tested positive for the highly contagious infection.

Then, on Sept. 28, the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts’ director, Dr. Cynthia Morrow, reported that four more cases of the virus associated with the restaurant chain had been discovered, with at least three people hospitalized.

During her most recent update on Tuesday, Oct. 12, Dr. Morrow announced that approximately 35 hepatitis A cases have been confirmed in connection with this exposure, but that number is expected to rise as health officials investigate potential new cases that came in over the weekend.

Dr. Morrow says there have also been a handful secondary cases after people who were infected earlier on transmitted the virus to other people within their own households. However, there are no major clusters of such secondary infections.

In addition, there have been more than 20 hospitalizations reported as of Tuesday associated with this hepatitis A outbreak, according to Dr. Morrow.

Dr. Morrow says this is disappointing, but not surprising considering the long incubation period for hepatitis A — which can be up to 50 days — and the amount of time it can take people to seek medical care even after they start to show symptoms. The number of hepatitis A cases tied to this outbreak are expected to continue rising over the next few weeks.

The health districts say that anyone who visited any of the following Famous Anthony’s locations between Aug. 10 and Aug. 26 could have been exposed:

4913 Grandin Road
6499 Williamson Road
2221 Crystal Spring Avenue

According to health officials, if you have been exposed and are not vaccinated against hepatitis A, you should monitor yourself for the symptoms listed below, which can develop 15 to 50 days after exposure:

Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the eyes)
Fever
Fatigue
Loss of appetite
Nausea
Vomiting
Abdominal pain
Dark urine
Light-colored stools

Besides getting the hepatitis A vaccine, Dr. Morrow says practicing good hand hygiene and cooking hygiene are ways to help ward off the virus.

Trichinellosis is a parasitic disease that results from consumption of raw or undercooked meat infected by roundworm species in the genus Trichinella. Early signs and symptoms occur 1–2 days after ingestion and include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Systemic signs and symptoms, which typically occur 1–2 weeks after ingestion and last for 1–8 weeks, include facial and periorbital edema, fatigue, fever (remittent) and chills, headache, muscle soreness, pruritus (with or without a rash), nausea, difficulty coordinating movement, neurologic complications, and cardiopulmonary impairment.

The best way to prevent trichinellosis is to cook meat to a temperature of 71 degrees C (160 degrees F).

According to Food Safety News, health officials in Córdoba revealed that 244 cases of trichinosis had been registered in Totoral, Colón, Unión, Capital and Río Cuarto.

The Ministry of Health of Córdoba said almost 200 of the sick people live in the town of Villa del Totoral. Patients were treated in different health care centers. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the National Service of Agrifood Health and Quality (SENASA) are monitoring the outbreak.

Investigations have found a link to pork meat, sausages, and salami from different businesses in Villa del Totoral.  An earlier warning revealed 22 people were sick in Villa del Totoral and the city of Córdoba.

In the province of Buenos Aires, eight cases of trichinosis had previously been confirmed in the town of Cañuelas with another five probable. Officials in Chascomus, also in Buenos Aires, reported some infections in the city and several people have fallen ill in the city of Chacabuco after eating sausages.

 

On October 6, 2021, the FDA reported that it was investigating a 20 person Listeria outbreak linked to an unknown food product.

Interestingly, or perhaps coincidentally, the FDA and Fullei Fresh published the following recall announcement on October 6, 2021:

The purpose of this announcement is to advise you that Fullei Fresh is voluntarily recalling Bean Sprouts and Soy Sprouts as a precaution due to possible exposure to listeria monocytogenes. Affected lots are numbered consecutively between 251 and 271. They were harvested and shipped to distributors between September 14 and October 5, 2021. Both conventional and organic bean sprouts as well as soy sprouts are voluntarily recalled. No other products are affected at this time as they are grown and packed in segregated departments.

Fullei Fresh conventional bean sprouts are sold in 5 lb bulk, 10 lb bulk and 8 oz retail packs. Organic bean sprouts are sold in 5 lb bulk and 4 oz retail packs. Soy sprouts are sold in 5 lb bulk and 10 lb bulk. The lot numbers are printed on the retail packs and on bulk cardboard boxes in the barcode (the last 3 digits.)

For those that pay attention to outbreaks and FDA recalls, usually the recall, without illnesses, are prompted by a positive product or environmental test.  Here, we only got:

There have been no known illnesses reported in connection with these products.

So, is there a link between a Listeria outbreak and the recall of Bean Sprouts and Soy Sprouts?

Listeria:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeriaoutbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $800 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as lettuce, polony, deli meat, cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Alison Graham wrote:

A Franklin County woman filed a lawsuit against Famous Anthony’s, alleging that she contracted hepatitis A from eating at one of the chain’s restaurants.

According to the lawsuit, Mindy Perdue ate a gravy biscuit combo on Aug. 21 at the Famous Anthony’s on Grandin Road in Roanoke. A few weeks later, she began experiencing migraines, fever, vomiting, jaundice and dark urine. She was ultimately hospitalized.

Perdue is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages for her medical expenses and lost wages from her illness. Perdue’s complaint, filed Wednesday in Roanoke City Circuit Court, claims the restaurant acted negligently by serving contaminated food and violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Perdue’s infection is associated with a hepatitis A outbreak at three Famous Anthony’s locations. An employee who worked at the three restaurants — on Grandin Road, Crystal Spring Avenue and Williamson Road — was diagnosed with the virus, which causes liver inflammation.

So far, 30 cases have been reported to the Virginia Department of Health related to this outbreak. Health department spokesperson Christie Wills said the window for symptoms to appear is still ongoing, so the department may continue to hear of new cases for at least a few more weeks.

Hepatitis A symptoms typically begin 28 days after exposure to the virus but can begin as early as 15 days and as late as 50 days. Hepatitis A is preventable with a vaccine.

Perdue is represented by Bill Marler, a foodborne illness attorney based in Seattle. Marler said he has spent 30 years working on similar cases, including ones for hepatitis A outbreaks.

He said while most people exposed to hepatitis A have minor illnesses, it can cause serious stress on the liver that could require a transplant. He said some people are killed from the infection.

“It’s a lot more devastating than people realize,” Marler said. “I hope everyone gets a vaccine, but especially food service workers.”

Marler said he has been retained by another person who was hospitalized following this outbreak and there may be more plaintiffs in the coming weeks.

Health department officials said anyone who visited any of the three locations between Aug. 10 and Aug. 26 may have been exposed. People who are not vaccinated against the virus are encouraged to monitor for symptoms and seek medical care if any develop.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, and jaundice or yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Those with symptoms should stay home while recovering. Hepatitis A can be spread through direct contact with an infected person or by contaminated food or drink.

A spokesperson for Famous Anthony’s could not immediately be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.

I have lost track of how many times I have implored restaurants to offer Hepatitis A vaccines to their employees.  Here was my latest:

And, now here are the consequences:

Publisher’s Platform: Vaccinate restaurant employees against hepatitis A or suffer the consequences

PDF Complaint

The Virginia Department of Health says the number of total people linked to three Famous Anthony’s restaurants infected with hepatitis A has increased to 14.

According to press reports, Dr. Cynthia Morrow with the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts (RCADH) spoke about the hepatitis A exposure situation during a Zoom meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Morrow says they reported four more cases of the virus associated with Famous Anthony’s restaurant chain. At least three of the people have been hospitalized.

Health officials first reported the exposure outbreak on Friday, Sept. 24. VDH says that a person who worked at three different Famous Anthony’s locations tested positive for the highly contagious infection.

Health officials say that anyone who visited any of the following Famous Anthony’s locations between Aug. 10 and Aug. 26 could have been exposed:

  • 4913 Grandin Road
  • 6499 Williamson Road
  • 2221 Crystal Spring Avenue

According to the VDH, if you have been exposed and are not vaccinated against hepatitis A (vaccines most effective within two weeks of exposure, you should monitor yourself for the symptoms listed below:

  • jaundice: (yellowing of the skin or the eyes),
  • fever,
  • fatigue,
  • loss of appetite,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • abdominal pain,
  • dark urine, or
  • light-colored stools.

Symptoms can develop between 15 to 50 days following exposure. If you develop any of these systems seek medical care or let your healthcare provider know about your possible exposure.

The FDA is reporting today for the first time an active investigation to a Listeria Outbreak that has sickened 20.  The FDA continues to investigate a Salmonella Thompson outbreak that has sickened 93.  Both outbreaks have yet to be linked to a food product.

The FDA has not definitively determined what specific food has been the cause of a nationwide Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak – But, cilantro looks suspicious.

Since the last update on September 23, 2021, 140 more people were added to this outbreak. As of September 29, 2021, 419 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Oranienburg have been reported from 35 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from June 19, 2021, to September 14, 2021.

Sick people range in age from less than 1 year to 91 years, with a median age of 37, and 56% are female. Of 214 people with information available, 66 (31%) have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that, on behalf of the agency, the U.S. Marshals Service conducted a mass seizure of FDA-regulated spices and food additive products held for sale under insanitary conditions. Specifically, these food products were exposed to widespread rodent infestation as well as other pests, such as live and dead insects.

The seizure was completed today at Lyden Spice Corporation in Miami, Florida. The food products seized at the property include more than 25,000 boxes/bags of bulk ready-to-eat spices and food additives, such as monosodium glutamate, crushed red chili and sesame seeds.

“The FDA plays a critical role in safeguarding the U.S. food supply and helping to ensure that our food is not contaminated at any point during its journey along the supply chain,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “We take our responsibility seriously and will continue to take action against those who threaten the safety and quality of the products we regulate as a necessary step to protect the public health and the safety of Americans. The widespread insanitary conditions found at the Lyden Spice Corporation are disturbing and won’t be tolerated.”

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the complaint on behalf of the FDA in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging that the food products at Lyden Spice Corporation’s facility are adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and requesting that the food products be condemned and forfeited to the United States.

The complaint alleges that an inspection of Lyden Spice Corporation that the FDA conducted between June 8 and June 28, 2021, revealed insanitary conditions, including rodent feces too numerous to count on and around pallets with containers of food, evidence of rodent gnawing and urine on food containers, and rodent nesting material between food pallets. The FDA investigators also observed live and dead insects on food packaging, as well as apparent bird droppings in the food storage area.

September 29, 2021: Alianza Nacional de Campesinas welcomes the Biden-Harris administration’s multi-pronged approach to address heat stress, and emphasizes the need to rapidly implement these efforts in a manner that upholds the rights of workers and communities. This cross-agency initiative plans to begin the rulemaking process to create a federal heat standard, provide cooling assistance to households and communities, identify and address disproportionate heat impacts, and enhance heat illness data to improve local preparedness.

As temperatures continue to rise, so do heat related illnesses and injuries for millions of workers, and for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities across the country. Due to the worsening effects of climate change, this year has been the hottest on record, and farm and food system workers have been particularly impacted. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), farmworkers are 20 times more likely to die from heat related illness compared to any other U.S civilian worker. Elevated body temperatures can cause long term health issues for farmworkers, which often include pregnant people and children as young as 12.

Elvira Carvajal, a lead organizer for Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, said, “farmworkers, including farmworker women like myself, deserve better protections and working conditions. We are thankful that this administration is taking our demands seriously and considering the needs of some of the most vulnerable.”

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas has long advocated for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to adopt and implement a federal heat stress standard to protect farm and food system workers from heat-related injuries and illness. While we welcome the administration’s efforts, we are concerned by the involvement of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), given the well-documented history of human rights abuses and civil rights violations by DHS, its components, and its private contractors. We call on the Biden-Harris administration to urgently address the dangerous effects of heat stress for workers within and beyond our food systems, and resoundingly reject any effort to expand immigration enforcement and detention operations as part of this initiative or any other.

“We continue to advocate for robust heat stress protections and other safeguards for farmworker women and families, and to move away from the racist, xenophobic detention and deportation systems that harm immigrant and migrant communities,” said María De Luna, Alianza’s National Policy & Advocacy Coordinator.

###

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Inc. (Alianza) is the first national farmworker women’s organization in the United States founded and led by farmworker women, and those who hail from farmworker families. A coalition of 15 grassroots, farmworker organizations across 11 states and the District of Columbia, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas advocates for the civil, constitutional, and human rights of our country’s more than 700,000 farmworker women, and other women workers, who form the backbone of our farm and food systems.

As of today 690,152, of our friends and neighbors have died from SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).  However, perhaps, at least in the foodborne illness space, there might be some good news?

The CDC reported today on the Decreased Incidence of Infections Caused by Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic — Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 2017–2020.

According to the CDC, there has been a 26% decrease in incidence of infections caused by pathogens transmitted commonly through food during 2020 which was the largest single-year variation in incidence during 25 years of FoodNet surveillance.

The questions posed by the CDC in part were answered and in part not.

1.     Did widespread public health interventions implemented to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission might have contributed to this decrease? For example, infections associated with international travel decreased markedly after pandemic-related travel restrictions were imposed. Other interventions, such as restaurant closures, might have contributed to declines in incidence.

2.     However, a higher than usual proportion of infections might have been undetected because factors such as changes in health care-seeking behaviors, and broader use of telehealth might have limited the number of stool specimens tested.

3.     Marked decreases in emergency department visits for abdominal pain and other digestive or abdominal signs and symptoms occurred early in the pandemic which would have decreased reports of foodborne illnesses.

4.     Of concern was the proportion of infections resulting in hospitalization increased slightly; possible explanations include disproportionate decreases in health care-seeking among those with milder illness or delayed health care-seeking resulting in more severe illness at the time of clinical presentation.

5.     Changes in clinical and public health laboratory capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic might have contributed to observed decreases in culturing. Before 2020, culture of specimens positive for CampylobacterSalmonellaShigella, and Yersinia increased in FoodNet sites, augmented by CDC funding. However, fewer cultures decrease the ability to detect and investigate outbreaks and sporadic cases of emerging pathogens, which relies on sequencing.

6.     The incidences of Salmonella Infantis, Cyclospora, and Yersinia infections, which had previously been increasing, did not change, possibly because of continuing prepandemic factors that led to rising incidences during previous years; the stable incidences despite the pandemic suggest that they might have increased otherwise.

7.     As pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, illnesses caused by these pathogens and by Hadar, the one Salmonella serotype with increasing incidence, should be closely monitored. Rising multidrug resistant Salmonella Infantis infections have been linked to consumption of chicken. Hadar infections have been linked to backyard flocks and to consumption of turkey. USDA-FSIS did not detect a significantly higher percentage of Salmonella Hadar in raw poultry samples collected in 2020 compared with 2017–2019. Typhimurium continued to decline in rank among Salmonella serotypes, dropping to fourth most common for the first time.

The CDC noted that the findings in this report are subject to at least three limitations. First, the pandemic and corresponding public health response make explaining changes in the observed incidences of infections challenging. Second, changes in health care-seeking behaviors and health care delivery during the pandemic likely limited ascertainment of cases. Finally, sites reported decreases that varied over time in the willingness of ill persons to be interviewed and in staff member capacity to conduct case interviews; these factors might have resulted in missing data and recall bias.