Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ProMED-mail Internet-a-thon

Like 2008 itself, the ProMED-mail 2008 Internet-a-thon is drawing to a close:

Your financial support enables ProMED to continue providing you and 48,000 others in 187 countries worldwide with reliable, independent reporting of emerging infectious diseases and outbreaks as they happen.

Plagueblog recommends that you support this noble cause.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Cookie Dough Warning

Via ProMED-mail: the New Zealand Food Safety Authority reports on a salmonella outbreak apparently caused by (raw) contaminated flour.

“It is possible for low levels of bacteria to be on wheat or other points of the flour milling process, and studies indicate that about one percent of flour on average contains Salmonella.”
“Flour is a raw ingredient and intended to be consumed cooked. Although flour is not expected to be a sterile product, we support the company’s precautionary decision to withdraw the product. The affected batches of these brands can be safely used to cook if proper care is taken. If people have used these brands in their baking - for biscuits, cakes, breads or other Christmas treats - they can be reassured that the cooking will have killed the bacteria and that these home baked foods are safe to eat.”

In other words, bake those cookies before you eat any.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hog Ebola

Via ProMED-mail: Bloomberg reports on the discovery of Ebola Reston in Philippine hogs.

International scientists will converge on farms in the Philippines to help local authorities discover how pigs contracted Ebola-Reston, a monkey-killing strain not known to harm people. The findings may help identify which species carries the virus in the wild without getting sick, enabling the pathogen to persist undetected in the environment, said Juan Lubroth, head of infectious diseases in the animal health unit of the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

Note that bats, those flying rodents of death, are still the main suspects for filovirus reservoirs. Ebola Reston first came to Reston, Virginia in Philippine monkeys, but this is the first known occurrence of Ebola in pigs. Ebola Reston is not believed to be harmful to humans.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Goo-Goo Melamine, Part VII

Via What to Eat: the New York Times reports that China now estimates the infant melamine scandal at about 300,000 cases with 6 dead. The previous estimate was 50,000 cases with 4 dead.

The Ministry of Health issued a statement saying that 860 babies who drank tainted milk were still hospitalized with kidney or urinary-tract problems; 154 of those were described as being in serious condition. “Most of the sickened children received outpatient treatment only for small amounts of sand-like kidney stones found in their urinary systems, while a part of the patients had to be hospitalized for the illness,” the ministry said.