Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beware of Green Food

Via Universal Hub: the FDA advises against the consumption of tomalley from Maine lobsters due to the risk of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP).

The FDA advisory applies only to tomalley, the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of the lobster that functions as the liver and pancreas. Cooking does not eliminate the PSP toxins. However, studies have shown that, even when high levels of PSP toxins are present in lobster tomalley, lobster meat itself is typically unaffected.

Also on the green food watch, the CDC reports a couple of smoking jalapeños:

An FDA laboratory detected Salmonella Saintpaul with the outbreak strain fingerprint pattern in a sample of jalapeño pepper obtained from a distribution center in McAllen, Texas. The distributor is working with FDA to recall the contaminated product in the United States. The peppers were grown in Mexico; investigators are working to determine where they were contaminated.
The Laboratory Services Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment detected Salmonella Saintpaul with the outbreak strain fingerprint pattern in a jalapeño pepper provided by an ill individual. The state health department is working with the FDA to determine the origin of the jalapeño pepper.

Plagueblog recommends eating locally-grown produce (unless you are local to Mexico) and ruminants. In no case should you be eating any part of an animal whose internal organs can be described as a "soft, green substance [...] that functions as both liver and pancreas."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Via Technovelgy:

Rapamycin, a drug approved by the FDA to stop tissue rejection after organ transplants, has been found to reverse the brain dysfunction caused by a genetic disease - tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).
"This is the first study to demonstrate that the drug rapamycin can repair learning deficits related to a genetic mutation that causes autism in humans. The same mutation in animals produces learning disorders, which we were able to eliminate in adult mice," explained principal investigator Dr. Alcino Silva, professor of neurobiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our work and other recent studies suggest that some forms of mental retardation can be reversed, even in the adult brain."

See Science Daily for more details.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Marburg Death in the Netherlands

Via ProMED-mail: the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reports a Marburg death in Leiden, the Netherlands, of a woman who had recently visited the Maramagambo forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda.

The patient died on July, 11.
ECDC’s initial assessment is that the threat to public health is limited and mainly focussed on the people who have been in close contact with the patient after the onset of her symptoms. People intending to travel to Uganda should be aware there may be a risk related to visiting caves in the Maramagambo forest.

PlagueBlog recommends New England as a safer travel destination than Uganda--as long as you keep out of the Muddy River.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A New Non-variant CJD

Via an unnamed source: the BBC reports the discovery of a new type of sporatic CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease).

Dr Pierluigi Gambetti, director of the US National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center, in Ohio, said that he believed the newly discovered type had probably "been around for years, unnoticed".
He suggested one interesting common factor was that the patients came from families with a history of dementia, suggesting a genetic cause, but did not carry the gene traditionally associated with a small number of sporadic CJD cases.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tomato Doubts

Via ProMED-mail: USA Today reports that the ongoing salmonella outbreak has led to doubts about the tomato theory:

At a news conference Friday, representatives of the FDA and the CDC were more forceful in saying that they aren't sure tainted tomatoes caused the outbreak of salmonella saintpaul, a fairly rare strain. Previous statements had been more vague.
Over the weekend, the tide of opinion among epidemiologists, produce companies and food safety officials also began to turn in that direction.
Tomatoes couldn't have caused an outbreak that has stretched from early April to late June, says Jim Prevor, editor of Produce Business magazine. "There's not a field in the world" that produces that long, he says.

No new smoking vegetable has been implicated.