Contaminated meat

If Max eats up all his chicken, he'll grow to be a big, strong boy. Unless it kills him first.
Bacteria from the cut-price meat that we eat can remain in the gut for years and, warn scientists, breed superbugs untreatable in humans.
So are we sitting on an antibiotic-resistant time bomb?
Andrew Purvis Sunday August 10, 2003 The Observer

Even as you pick up the tray of cut-price chicken thighs, your life expectancy has plummeted. Ten years from now, as a result of this penny-pinching impulse buy, you could die - untreatable by modern medicine - in the intensive-care unit of a British hospital, the victim of a killer bug implanted in your gut and waiting for its Big Moment. It's a complex tale of poor slaughterhouse hygiene, gene transfer, microbiology and pure chance, but at its centre is the antibiotic avoparcin - a 'growth promoter' once given to chickens and pigs to help them gain weight efficiently.

Though our story is about poultry, it could just as easily be about the pork chop, sausages, or salami sticks in your shopping basket. When you read this, you will understand why the check-out staff at supermarkets put your meat in a bag separate from your tomatoes; you will realise the importance of food hygiene and appreciate the true danger of cross-contamination.

Banned in Europe since 1997 due to fears about human health, avoparcin is no longer used or manufactured anywhere in the world - yet its legacy remains in the environment, and in the guts of animals generations later. Because it was given at very low dosages (fewer than 50 parts per million in feed or drinking water), avoparcin didn't kill bacteria outright but allowed some - the most resistant to it - to survive. Exposed to other drugs, these can in turn become more resistant to several antibiotics, creating a 'superbug'.

At the time of purchase, it has to be said, the chicken's pathology is relatively benign - if a little unsavoury. Most farm animals, and indeed most humans, carry millions of harmless bacteria called enterococci in their faeces and gut - and these can be transferred to the surface of meat at slaughter, often through unclean blades or the mechanical scoops inserted through the birds' backsides to eviscerate them. As the chicken oozes unappetisingly on the top shelf of your fridge, wrapped in a leaky carrier bag, blood drips on to the cheddar cheese below - the classic 'cross contamination' sequence - and seeps through its paper wrapper.

Making yourself a cheese sandwich next day, you don't notice the bacteriological accompaniment - but you have inadvertently eaten uncooked enterococci. As the chicken itself is grilled for dinner, atomising the evidence and rendering the meat safe, the microbiological time bomb is ticking away in your stomach. Because the enterococci are harmless, you notice no symptoms. For a few days, the bugs struggle to survive inside their new human host - and they will quickly die. But before they do, they will pass on their gene for antibiotic resistance (acquired through repeated exposure to avoparcin) to other bacteria, notably enterococcus faecalis and enterococcus faecium, bugs that live in the gut of humans.

'We now know there are little pieces of mobile DNA,' says Professor Laura Piddock, Professor of Microbiology at Birmingham Medical School, 'which can detach themselves from the animal enterococcus and jump across to the human type. It's a form of bacterial sex. You then have a resistant bacterium in your body, which can sit there waiting in your gut. You don't know when you ate the resistance gene - it could have been last week, it could have been 10 years ago. It isn't a problem if you're a normal, healthy individual, but if you go into hospital for a kidney transplant or similar operation, you will be very vulnerable. You can be infected by that organism or, worse, it can spread through an entire hospital ward through the oral-faecal route.'

In other words, if you don't wash your hands, resistant bacteria can attach themselves to food, cutlery, bed linen, clothing and surgical instruments, infecting wards and colonising the intestines of other patients. In the physically robust, these human enterococci can cause minor urinary infections and stop wounds healing. In the less strong - such as long-term hospital patients, people with kidney failure, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system - they can lead to raging infections of the blood stream (bacteraemia), heart muscle (endocarditis) and brain (meningitis), often resulting in death. And so, when you are admitted to hospital for minor heart surgery a decade after you ate that tainted cheddar sandwich, the superbugs are waiting to colonise your chest and kill you.

Known as VRE (Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci), these bugs are among the most indestructible isolated from humans and are virtually untreatable in their most resistant form. Though minor infections usually respond to penicillins, macrolides or tetracyclines - three families of antibiotics in widespread use today - there is nothing modern medicine can do about the more serious outbreaks. In the past, doctors used two expensive and potentially toxic medicines, teicoplanin and vancomycin, injected by syringe. In 1986, however, the first vancomycin-resistant enterococcus was found in France and, a year later, it was isolated in the UK. Similar bacteria with 'multiple resistance' have been found worldwide, including the US - and there is nothing left in the medical armoury to treat them. 'These are infections of the 1990s, 2000 and beyond,' says Professor Piddock. 'Due to advances in modern medicine, which have ensured that seriously ill patients tend to live, we are seeing a whole new spectrum of diseases, some of which are very difficult to treat- including VRE.'  [NOTE: the usual progression of "technological advances" from short-term convenience to long-term disaster is repeated again - ljf]

One of the main reasons is the widespread use of antibiotic growth promoters such as avoparcin - which is chemically related to vancomycin (both are classed as glycopeptides). 'As long ago as 1969,' Professor Piddock explains, 'the Swann Committee [commissioned by the Government] recommended that no agent used in human medicine should be used for growth promotion in animals - and people have stuck to that. However, there are drugs used in animals with a different name and chemical structure which are so similar to those used in people that the bacteria cannot distinguish between the two. As far as they are concerned, it is the same molecule - so they become resistant to the human drug.'

One such drug is ciprofloxacin, the antibiotic many Americans turned to when anthrax attacks were threatened after 11 September 2001. It is one of the fluoroquinolones, a family of antibiotics that includes several used to treat farm animals, mainly chickens and turkeys. 'We're particularly concerned about this one,' says Dr Caroline Willis, a clinical scientist with the Health Protection Agency in Southampton, 'because it is a first-line agent for treating serious hospital infections.' It is also the first line in drugs for fighting salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter - serious food-poisoning bugs that affect 100,000 people in England and Wales each year and account for 100 to 200 deaths. Campylobacter poisoning, though its symptoms are the least severe, is on the increase, with cases doubling since 1990. Last year, 60,000 people fell victim to it and 80 died. Of those 60,000, an estimated 9,000 would have had the ciprofloxacin-resistant strain which may not respond to that particular medicine. It is Dr Willis's job to look for bacteria in food and find out how resistant they are to human medicines. In a recent examination of raw chicken imported from Thailand and Brazil, she found that 78 per cent of the campylobacter bacteria isolated were resistant to ciprofloxacin (compared to 10 per cent in UK samples); among E. coli bacteria, 47 per cent were resistant (compared to zero resistance in chicken produced in Britain). 'This suggests that a drug related to ciprofloxacin is being used quite freely in chicken production in these countries,' Dr Willis concludes. 'Because 20 to 30 per cent of our chicken is imported from places like Thailand, we are sitting on an antibiotic-resistant time bomb.'

What Dr Willis means is a situation where more and more bacteria fail to respond to treatment - allowing human diseases to run rampant, as in the pre-antibiotic era. Already, the food-poisoning bug Salmonella typhimurium DT104 is resistant to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfonamides and tetracycline (all used in human medicine) and is failing to respond to trimethoprim and ciprofloxacin as well. Between 1990 and 1996, there was a tenfold increase in DT104 cases in Britain - though this has been brought under control by mass vaccination of poultry - and this strain results in twice as many hospitalisations and 10 times as many fatalities as other types of foodborne salmonella. In 1998, the most serious recorded outbreak occurred in Denmark, when 22 people fell ill after eating infected pork. Of those, seven were admitted to hospital and four failed to respond to treatment with fluoroquinolone (the antibiotic of choice for serious food-poisoning episodes). One previously healthy 62-year-old woman died due to intestinal perforation, after a five-day course of fluoroquinolone failed to kill the resistant bacteria before surgery.

Nor is it just DT104 that is failing to respond to first-line drug regimes. 'In campylobacter coli, a strain of the food-poisoning bug which originated in pigs, human resistance to erythromycin is now running at 13 per cent,' says Richard Young, policy adviser to the Soil Association. 'It's the only safe drug used to treat children with the infection, so we are talking about 200 to 300 children per year who will be untreatable with this drug.' Erythromycin is one the macrolides family, banned as growth promoters in 1999. 'Since then,' says Young, 'the quantity prescribed by vets has actually gone up, from 23 tonnes in 1998 to 55 tonnes now - which is a move in the wrong direction. I believe that, literally within a decade or so, we are going to see a large number of people dying from drug-resistant infections for which there are simply no effective antibiotics.'

The culprit, he believes, is the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in food animals - and in this he is not alone. After hearing evidence from the World Health Organisation and others in 1997, the EU banned avoparcin because of fears about resistant superbugs spreading from poultry to humans. In 1999, both Tesco and Marks & Spencer said they would no longer stock chickens that had been fed antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs), and EU legislation in the same year outlawed six more. This leaves only four such products (avilamycin, flavomycin, monensin and salinomycin) licensed for farm use - and these, too, will be withdrawn from all EU countries, including Britain, by January 2006.

In June this year came further evidence that the tide against antibiotic growth promoters was turning. In a well-publicised announcement, the McDonald's fast food company in Illinois directed some of its meat suppliers to stop using AGPs by the end of 2004 while telling others to cut back. The total ban applies mainly to suppliers of chicken, who routinely use 24 growth promoters which are closely related to human medicines - including virginiamycin, believed to be the cause of outbreaks of the VRE super-bug in the US. 'We would love to be a catalyst for change industry-wide on antibiotic use,' said Robert Langert, McDonald's senior director for social responsibility.  [Now, there's an oxymoron ljf]  'People have been arguing about this all night and day, but now we are taking some practical steps and expect we'll make some real progress.'

It isn't the first time such a clarion call for reform has been issued by a major player in the food world - and last time the tune was short-lived. In 2000, British poultry farmers working under the Assured Chicken Production scheme - represented by the Little Red Tractor logo, and accounting for 85 per cent of all chickens sold in the UK - agreed very publicly to discontinue the use of antibiotic growth promoters. In 2002, however, a clause was added to the ACP standard, saying AGPs could be used preventatively in feed 'under veterinary supervision on welfare grounds' - and this remains the case, though the guidelines are currently under review. 'They claim the drugs are necessary to control disease,' says Richard Young of the Soil Association, 'but using them in this way is not permitted in the EU.' Antibiotic growth promoters, which are classed as feed additives, have never been evaluated for safety as veterinary medicines. In May this year, Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for Agriculture, agreed. In a letter to the Soil Association - the licensing body for organic farming, which is lobbying for a radical reform of intensive farming methods - she admitted that using growth promoters in this way 'could be illegal under EU legislation' and resolved to look into the matter. For its part, Assured Chicken Production says preventative use of AGPs reduces the need for therapeutic antibiotics - the ones, they say, which are more closely related to human medicines.

In fact, growth promoters are only the tip of the antibiotic iceberg. While 43 tonnes of AGPs (measured by weight of active ingredients) were sold in Britain in 2001, the overall quantity of antibiotics used on farm animals was 463 tonnes - more than 10 times as much. This figure has risen from 452 tonnes since 1998, suggesting that the fears voiced by medical experts have largely gone unheeded. Though the up-to-date total will be less (due to the phasing out of AGPs and some drugs used in human medicine), a 1998 report for MAFF - now Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - listed no fewer than 61 antimicrobials used to treat farm animals which had implications for human health. These were those antibiotics used in agriculture 'which may affect the antimicrobial resistance status of foodborne pathogens, or contribute to the resistance pool in man'.

In addition to these, Richard Young is worried by the coccidiostats, powerful drugs such as nicarbazin, lasalocid and narasin which are used to treat parasitic infections in poultry and game. While the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), which monitors residues in food animals, says 99 per cent of poultry and 97 per cent of eggs are free of such chemicals, Young believes the figures could be wrong by as much as 2,000 per cent due to the way in which data is collected. He claims that four per cent of all eggs and 10 per cent of all chicken livers tested in the UK contain residues of coccidiostats, some of which are toxic in high dosages and cause irregular heart activity.

Pigs, too, are routinely fed or injected with up to 10 antibiotics in their lifetime (on average, 15g of medicine for every pig reared in Britain, compared to 4g per pig in Denmark), while lambs may be given 'antihelmintics' to control outbreaks of nematodirus disease (caused by a parasitic worm) and most dairy cattle will have antibiotics pumped directly into their teats to fend off mastitis. However, because all food animals in Britain are subject to a 'withdrawal period' before slaughter, allowing antibiotics to be purged from the system, it is unlikely that such drugs enter the food chain in sufficient quantities to affect our health. However, as Richard Young points out, not all farmers abide by the rules governing withdrawal - and poultry farmers in particular sell off smaller, surplus birds ahead of the main flock (known as 'thinning') before they are taken off drugs. Could the occasional antibiotic residue, which scientists say can't exist, cause an allergic reaction and make some people ill?

Steven Saunders, chef-proprietor of the Sheene Mill Hotel and Restaurant in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, is convinced they can. 'My mother never gave me penicillin because I reacted badly to it,' he says, 'and to me it makes perfect sense that I'm allergic to antibiotics in meat. I can enjoy a meal, I can have dinner with friends - but if I eat the chicken, I know how I will feel next day. My stomach churns, I'm out of sorts. It's the same with Indian food: I can cook it myself and never suffer - but if I go to an Indian restaurant, I probably have the cheapest form of catering chicken that is intensively farmed, and I know it's going to get me. By the next morning, it has.'

Long before organic food was fashionable - or even a household term - Saunders began eating a chemical-free diet and serving naturally-reared meat in his restaurant. 'I sourced my ducks from Aylesbury,' he says, 'my chickens from a place near Thetford - and my restaurant at the time, called the Pink Geranium, started getting incredible reviews.' By using meat that was free of antibiotics, Saunders became better known as a chef and found himself ideally positioned to be an outspoken advocate of organic farming - but is meat produced in this way really any safer? 'From a microbiological point of view,' says Professor Piddock, 'I doubt it. Organically reared animals carry the same bugs, they get ill, they are treated with antibiotics - but probably less than in conventional farming. They have a better life, they are healthier, and organic meat certainly tastes better. That, I imagine, is more to do with diet than a lower dependency on antibiotics.'

Despite Saunder's organic zeal, the science also suggests that stopping the routine use of antibiotics in food production may not be the answer. When Denmark banned avoparcin (in 1995) and virginiamycin (in 1998), there was initially an encouraging result. The proportion of avoparcin-resistant enterococci found in chickens fell from 73 per cent to five per cent in a five-year period, while the fraction of virginiamycin-resistant enterococci almost halved. But the decrease in resistance came at a price in terms of animal welfare, with higher mortality rates in young pigs (which are also fed avoparcin) and an increased incidence of gastroenteritis. In both Denmark and Sweden, the amount of antibiotics prescribed therapeutically by vets has risen since growth promoters were banned, reflecting a higher incidence of sickness in animals.

'That may be true,' says Steven Saunders, 'but that is because the whole farming system needs a rethink. The only reason animals are given these antibiotics is because they are living in such terrible conditions. They are produced intensively simply to keep up with demand - but why do we need all this cheap meat - the sausages, the burgers, the chicken tikka masala? I think we eat too much meat anyway, so farmers don't have to produce all these thousands of chickens, do they? People can eat pasta instead, until meat is a quality product again.'

For the time being, that quality product does come from animals reared organically. Living under better welfare conditions, they don't need antibiotics administered constantly in their feed or given prophylactically (as an insurance policy against disease, rather than as a treatment). However, they may be given the odd homeopathic remedy. 'Most organic farms will use homeopathy to some extent,' says Will Best, who keeps 140 dairy cows, 100 younger cattle and 100 ewes on his 500-acre farm near Cerne Abbas in Dorset. 'We have a herdsman, Phil Hansford, who has developed an in-depth understanding of it. He wrote The Herdsman's Introduction to Homeopathy which nearly all the organic herdsmen have.'

Under Hansford's guidance, a cow suffering from pneumonia was once prescribed beryllium instead of the vet's antibiotics, followed by two further remedies for ticks (which were challenging her immune system) and swollen lymph glands. 'That required considerable input, intelligence and detective work,' says Best, 'but after a few days the cow got better. I cannot remember the last time we used an antibiotic on a bovine, though we have done occasionally on sheep. As far as the cattle are concerned, the situation just doesn't arise - and I think this shows in the quality and purity of our milk, which is sold under the Manor Farm label.'

In conventional dairy farming, Best explains, the main antibiotic use is what is known as dry-cow therapy. 'The average cow does about 10 months milking, followed by two months off before she calves again,' says Best, 'and in that period, a dose of long-acting antibiotic is pushed up each of the cow's teats to prevent mastitis. The idea is that, during the dry period, the antibiotic won't be flushed out by the milk.' However, such are fears about antibiotic resistance, a product has been developed by Pfizer in New Zealand which eliminates the need for drugs. Teatseal is a chemically inert silicone plug pushed up the cow's teat canal to seal it, preventing bacteria from entering. 'It's marvellous for the trade,' says Best, 'because they sell it at the same price as the antibiotic.' However, the product is good news for the consumer as well. 'If the average dairy farmer follows this recommendation,' Best calculates, 'the routine use of antibiotics in milk will come down by 50 to 60 per cent.'

For the time being, antibiotic use on farms in Britain continues to rise - and even if this were reversed, its legacy would continue. According to the World Health Organisation, there is now a variant of Salmonella typhimurium DT104 (resistant to at least seven human antibiotics) which has multiple resistance built into its genetic make-up permanently. In other words, even if antimicrobial drugs were banned completely in food animals, the variant known as R-type ACSSuT would remain resistant to these human medicines.

More disconcertingly, research conducted in 2001 suggests that one in 10 British children under the age of 10 may carry multi-resistant superbugs in their digestive systems, limiting the drug options available to them. Researchers at St Bartholomew's Hospital found that 11 per cent of stool samples contained bacteria such as E. coli that were resistant to chloramphenicol, a drug rarely given to children - suggesting they had acquired resistance without having taken the antibiotics. Though animal antimicrobials were not directly implicated, a spokesman for the Public Health Laboratory Service said: 'The usage of antibiotics is the driving factor in the development of resistance. Therefore, ways of reducing resistance must focus on the amount of antibiotics to which the population is exposed.' Though the drugs prescribed at doctors' surgeries certainly play a part, half the antibiotics dispensed in Britain every year are used in our food.

What's in your gut?

Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE)

Source: Mainly chicken, also pork. Anything cross-contaminated with it.

What it is: A bacterium in the faeces and gut of humans, dangerous if spread through poor hygiene. Common in hospital wards. A different type of drug-resistant enterococcus is carried by chickens and pigs, and this transfers its 'resistance gene' to the human bacterium, making it untreatable.

Resistant to: Vancomycin, the most powerful human antibiotic available. Also teicoplanin, the penicillins, the macrolides and the tetracyclines.

Cases: No official figures, but one study found VRE present in the stools of 15 per cent of kidney patients and 2 per cent of the general population (1.2m people). But VRE can now pass on its resistance gene to MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), a hospital 'superbug' infecting at least 13,000 patients a year for whom vancomycin is the last defence.

Symptoms: Urinary tract disease, poor wound healing, untreatable infections of the blood, heart muscle and brain. Potentially fatal.

Likely culprit: Avoparcin (now banned), an antibiotic growth promoter given to chickens and pigs, chemically related to vancomycin.

Salmonella typhimurium DT104

Source: In one case in Denmark, pork.

Other suspects are roast beef, ham, salami sticks, chicken legs and unpasteurised milk. What it is: A multi-resistant strain of the salmonella bug.

Resistant to: Ampicillin, streptomycin, chloramphenecol, sulfonamides and tetracycline. Now failing to respond to trimethoprim and ciprofloxacin.

Cases: At the last count (2001), 2,085.

Symptoms: Nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, fever and headache. Can be fatal in children and the elderly.

Likely culprit: Related animal antimicrobials given to poultry and pigs.

Campylobacter coli

Source: Uncooked poultry (particularly from Brazil or Thailand) or cross-contamination from it; other raw meats, unpasteurised milk.

What it is: A resistant strain of campylobacter, the fastest growing food-poisoning bug.

Resistant to: Erythromycin, the only safe antibiotic for treating food-poisoning in children. Campylobacter strains in general are resistant to ciprofloxacin.

Cases: Campylobacter accounted for 60,000 poisonings and 80 deaths last year. In 9,000 cases, the bug was resistant to ciprofloxacin. Each year, 200-300 children with it are untreatable with erythromycin.

Symptoms: Gastroenteritis with fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea that is often bloody. It can be fatal.

Likely culprit: The macrolides - antibiotic growth promoters (now banned) - given mainly to pigs and still prescribed therapeutically by vets in UK. In ciprofloxacin resistance, enrofloxacin - still licensed for use in poultry - implicated.

Mercury in illegal whale meat.
Trends in Parasitology, (June 10, 2003), 10.1016/S1471-4922(03)00138-7
Trichinella-infected pork products: a dangerous gift
Edoardo Pozio and Gianluca Marucci

  During the past decade, Trichinella spiralis infection has become widespread among domestic pigs in most of Central and Eastern Europe (i.e. Bulgaria, Byelorussia, Croatia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Romania, Russia and Serbia), with prevalence reaching 0.16% nationally, and up to 50% in some villages. Although, in recent years, tighter veterinary controls at slaughterhouses have decreased infection among domestic pigs, these controls are still lacking in villages, where many households keep several pigs. Furthermore, the high prevalence of Trichinella infection in domestic pigs has resulted in an increase of infection in wild boars and other sylvatic animals.

Int J Food Microbiol 2003 May 15;82(3):281-7
Occurrence and resistance to antibiotics of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli in animals and meat in northeastern Italy.
Pezzotti G, Serafin A, Luzzi I, Mioni R, Milan M, Perin R. Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Via Romea 14/A, 35020 Legnaro (PD), Italy

  A study was carried out in northeastern Italy during 2000 and 2001 to investigate the occurrence of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli in animals, cattle, pigs, and broilers, and raw meat, beef, pork, and chicken. Campylobacter spp. were detected in 53.9% of the cattle, 63.5% of the pigs, and 82.9% of the broilers examined. Chicken meat was frequently contaminated (81.3%), while lower rates were found in pork meat (10.3%) and beef (1.3%). The resistance to antibiotics of the strains was also investigated, and compared to that of human clinical isolates. C. coli was generally more resistant than C. jejuni. Resistance to quinolones was frequently observed in C. coli isolated in chicken meat (78.6%); slightly lower rates were found in C. jejuni isolated in broilers (42.2%), chicken meat (52.8%), and humans (38.2%). C. coli was also frequently resistant to tetracycline in all sources, while resistance to streptomycin was most frequently observed in pig isolates (89.4%).

PMID: 12593931

Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2003 Apr;228(4):358-64
Verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli in sheep grazing an irrigated pasture or arid rangeland forages.
Hussein HS, Thran BH, Glimp HA. Department of Animal Biotechnology, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada 89557, USA.

  Worldwide, verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) have been recognized as the cause of many sporadic cases or major outbreaks of human illnesses involving consumption of contaminated meat, especially beef. Although sheep products have not been linked to reported human illnesses, their role as a food safety risk factor should not be ignored. The objective of this study was to assess VTEC prevalence in two groups of ewes (20 each) grazing an irrigated pasture or arid range in a western United States environment (Nevada) over 1 year (summer of 1999 to summer of 2000). A random sample (n = 504) of potential VTEC isolates were tested for verotoxicity and were screened for the presence (polymerase chain reaction [PCR]) and expression (VTEC-reversed passive latex agglutination assay) of the toxin genes (i.e., VT1 and VT2). Forty-one VTEC isolates (16 having only the VT1 gene and 25 having both VT1 And VT2 genes) were detected in both groups of ewes. Except for seven isolates, the genotype and phenotype data matched. All the isolates (nonmotile [H-]) were non-O157:H7 VTEC (i.e., O91:H- [n = 25], O128:H- [n = 9], and untypeable ones [n = 7]). More infected ewes (nine versus three [45% versus 15% - ljf]) and different VTEC strains were found in the irrigated pasture than in the arid range. Because our ewes were shedding two VTEC serotypes known to cause human illnesses, it is beneficial to identify VTEC-positive sheep before slaughter as an initial control point before entering the food chain.

PMID: 12671179

Int J Food Microbiol 2003 Apr 25;82(2):97-103
Incidence of Salmonella from poultry products and their susceptibility to antimicrobial agents.
Antunes P, Reu C, Sousa JC, Peixe L, Pestana N. Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Porto, Dr. Roberto Frias, Portugal.

  The incidence of Salmonella in 60 samples of poultry products of national origin available for consumers obtained from two local butcher shops and one canteen of the city of Porto and the susceptibility to antimicrobial agents allowed for human or animal therapy were evaluated. The results show that poultry samples are frequently contaminated with Salmonella (60%), belonging to 10 different serotypes. Salmonella enteritidis and S. hadar were the most prevalent serotypes. In addition, a high number (75%) of the Salmonella isolates was resistant to one or more antimicrobial agents and eight different resistance profiles were recorded. Resistance to nalidixic acid and enrofloxacin was demonstrated for 50% of the isolates and the occurrence of resistant and multiresistant S. enteritidis isolates were less frequent than for S. hadar. This study suggests a high incidence of Salmonella on Portuguese poultry products and shows that they could be a potential vehicle of resistant Salmonella foodborne infections.

PMID: 12568749

Unfallchirurg 2003 Mar;106(3):204-6
[Ecthyma contagiosum (Orf) as an uncommon differential diagnosis of infections of the hand] [Article in German]
Rieger H, Wetterkamp D, Kuhn J, Langer M. Klinik fur Unfall-, Hand- und Wiederherstellungschirurgie,Clemenshospital,Munster.

  Orf of the hand is considered as an uncommon viral infection which is usually acquired through contact with infected sheep and goats. Indirect infections through contaminated knives or meat have been reported. Many authors feel that the disorder is more common than reported because the disease is often misdiagnosed and the course is usually self-limiting with spontaneous healing within several weeks.Diagnosis is mainly made by patient's history and clinical course. It is important to know the benign nature of human orf, since complications seem to be caused by overtreatment.

PMID: 12658338

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 2003 Mar 29;147(13):590-4
[Article in Dutch] Hoogkamp-Korstanje JA.
Universitair Medisch Centrum St Radboud, afd. Medische Microbiologie, Postbus 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen.

  The annual incidence of food-borne infections in the Netherlands is estimated to be 250,000 or more; registration, however, is lacking. Meat, poultry, milk and eggs are contaminated primarily by intestinal animal commensals (Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, Yersinia enterocolitica) or secondarily by animals, humans and the environment during processing (typhoid fever, Shigella, Listeria, Clostridium, hepatitis A virus, Norwalk virus, parasites). The guidelines for the prevention of contamination are insufficient. Intensity of production and the economic importance of fast, large-scale production are given priority over food safety. Information fails to reach the consumer.

PMID: 12701391

J Food Prot 2003 Mar;66(3):507-11
Hepatitis A virus detection in oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in Santa Catarina State, Brazil, by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
Coelho C, Heinert AP, Simoes CM, Barardi CR. Laboratorio de Virologia Aplicada, Centro de Ciencias Biologicas, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina 88040-900, Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil.

  Shellfish are readily contaminated with viruses present in water containing sewage because of the concentration effect of filter feeding. Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is the main cause of acute hepatitis worldwide and may lead to severe illness or even death. It is transmitted through fecal and oral routes and causes widespread endemic and asymptomatic infections in young children. Here we describe a method for the detection of HAV RNA in shellfish involving the extraction of total RNA from oyster meat followed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Virus recovery from oyster extracts artificially seeded with HAV strain HM 175 was examined by RT-PCR. The minimum detection limit was 3.3 focus-forming units of HAV, and the recovery rate was 75.7%. This method was used to assess the viral contamination of four shellfish beds in Santa Catarina State, Brazil, over a 1-year period. Six (22%) of 27 samples collected in autumn and winter from one shellfish bed tested positive for HAV.

PMID: 12636311

Am J Clin Nutr 2003 Mar;77(3):715-9
Arachidonic acid status during pregnancy is associated with polychlorinated biphenyl exposure.
Grandjean P, Weihe P. Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense.

  BACKGROUND: Seafood is an important source of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs), which are essential for normal growth and development. However, the nutritional benefits could be limited by polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination. In particular, inhibition of desaturase activities by PCBs may affect the maintenance of arachidonic acid (AA) status during development.
  OBJECTIVE: The aim was to evaluate AA status in a birth cohort from a fishing community with a high seafood intake and a wide range of PCB exposures.
  DESIGN: We measured LCP concentrations in paired mother and umbilical cord serum samples obtained from 182 consecutive births in the Faroe Islands, where PCB-contaminated whale blubber forms part of the diet. PCB exposure was determined from maternal concentrations.
  RESULTS: Serum phospholipid AA concentrations averaged 9.14% and 16.5% (by wt) in maternal and cord serum, respectively. After adjustment for gestational age and concentrations of linoleic, alpha-linolenic, and eicosapentaenoic acids, a decrease in AA concentrations of 0.17% (by wt) (95% CI: 0.03%, 0.31%) and 0.31% (by wt) (95% CI: 0.10%, 0.52%) was seen in maternal and cord serum, respectively, for each doubling of PCB exposure.
  CONCLUSIONS: Increased PCB exposure was associated with a modest decrease in serum AA concentrations, which is in accordance with the experimental evidence of desaturase inhibition by PCBs. Such interference with LCP utilization could attenuate the beneficial effects of the essential lipids contained in seafood. Because AA is of key importance for growth and development, these results suggest that this possible mechanism for PCB toxicity deserves to be explored.

PMID: 12600866

Int J Food Microbiol 2003 Mar 15;81(2):169-73
Occurrence of salmonellae in retail chicken carcasses and their products in Spain.
Capita R, Alvarez-Astorga M, Alonso-Calleja C, Moreno B, del Camino Garcia-Fernandez M. Department of Food Hygiene and Food Technology, Veterinary Faculty, University of Leon, Campus Universitario de Vegazana, s/n., 24071 Leon, Spain.

  This study examined the incidence of Salmonella in Spanish poultry products. Samples included chicken carcasses, chicken parts (wings, legs and giblets-livers and hearts) and processed chicken products (red sausages, white sausages and hamburgers). The average detection rate was 49%, with the highest (55%) in chicken carcasses (skin) and the lowest (20%) in hamburgers. The chicken carcasses purchased in supermarkets were more contaminated (75%) than those from poulterers shops (25%). Salmonella Enteritidis, S. Poona, S. Paratyphi B and S. Worthington were isolated in 34.3%, 11.4%, 2.8% and 1.4% of the samples, respectively. One (1.4%) red sausage sample harboured two serotypes (S. Enteritidis and S. Worthington). This fact emphasizes the usefulness of subtyping several Salmonella isolates from the same sample in epidemiological studies.

PMID: 12457592

Toxicon 2003 Feb;41(2):145-51
Ubiquitous 'benign' alga emerges as the cause of shellfish contamination responsible for the human toxic syndrome, azaspiracid poisoning.
James KJ, Moroney C, Roden C, Satake M, Yasumoto T, Lehane M, Furey A. Proteobio, Department of Chemistry, Mass Spectrometry Centre for Protcomics and Biotoxin Research, Cork Institute of Technology, Cork, Bishopstown, Ireland.

  A new human toxic syndrome, azaspiracid poisoning (AZP), was identified following illness from the consumption of contaminated mussels (Mytilus edulis). To discover the aetiology of AZP, sensitive analytical protocols involving liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) were used to screen marine phytoplankton for azaspiracids. Collections of single species were prepared by manually separating phytoplankton for LC-MS analysis. A dinoflagellate species of the genus, Protoperidinium, has been identified as the progenitor of azaspiracids. Azaspiracid-1, and its analogues, AZA2 and AZA3, were identified in extracts of 200 cells using electrospray multiple tandem MS. This discovery has significant implications for both human health and the aquaculture industry since this phytoplankton genus was previously considered to be toxicologically benign. The average toxin content was 1.8 fmol of total AZA toxins per cell with AZA1 as the predominant toxin, accounting for 82% of the total.

PMID: 12565733

Kansenshogaku Zasshi 2003 Feb;77(2):89-94
[A food poisoning outbreak caused by purple Washington clam contaminated with norovirus (Norwalk-like virus) and hepatitis A virus] [Article in Japanese]
Furuta T, Akiyama M, Kato Y, Nishio O. Hamamatsu City Institute of Health and Environment.

  A party of 57 people dined together in a restaurant in Hamamatsu City on December 11, 2001. The next day, 22 of them developed symptoms of acute gastroenteritis, such as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Examination of 4 fecal specimens from these patients by ELISA for Norovirus (Norwalk-like virus, NV) detected both genogroup I (GI) and genogroup II (GII) NV in all the 4 specimens. In addition, RT-PCR and real-time PCR methods for NV detected the NV gene. Approximately one month after the outbreak of the food poisoning (acute gastroenteritis) by NV, 4 individuals in the same party developed type A hepatitis. Both RT-PCR and real-time PCR methods for hepatitis A virus (HAV) detected the HAV gene in their fecal specimens. The party of these patients ate purple Washington clam (Saxidomus purpuratus, imported from China) steamed with red pepper. Since this food appeared to have caused the viral infections, the one with the same lot number was subjected to viral examinations, which successfully detected the NV GI, NV GII, and HAV genes. These results led to the conclusion that the clam contaminated with NV and HAV had caused the food poisoning. The DNA sequences of the NV detected in the patients and the clam had 74 to 99% homology, indicating strains of various genotypes. All the strains of HAV that were derived from the patients and the clam were genotype 1A, and these sequences had over 95% homology, but were not completely identical. This outbreak led to the demonstration of imported fishery products as a cause of type A hepatitis, and indicated the need for guiding and enlightening people on the importance of adequate cooking of bivalves.

PMID: 12661084

An Med Interna 2003 Feb;20(2):63-6
[Outbreak of trichinellosis in the region of la Vera (Carceres, Spain) caused by Trichinella britovi] [Article in Spanish]
Herraez Garcia J, Leon Garcia LA, Lanusse Senderos C, Cortes Blanco M, Garcia Cabanas A. Servicio de Medicina Interna, Hospital Campo Aranuelo.

  OBJECTIVE: To describe the clinical and epidemiological aspects of a trichinellosis outbreak in the region of La Vera that took place during January and February 2002, related to the consumption of pork meat infected with Trichinella britovi.
  MATERIAL AND METHODS: When the first suspected case was discovered, the presumed infected meat was checked and all the people who might have eaten it were examined. An epidemiological interview and a clinic evaluation were carried out in each patient.
  RESULTS: We found 52 exposed people that had eaten the presumptive infected meat, 35 males and 17 females, with an age ranging from 2 to 86 years old. A confirmed positive diagnosis was established in 16 patients. The most frequent symptoms were: diarrhea (present in all the cases), fever, myalgia and facial edema. Eosinophilia was an early and characteristic analytic sign. All diagnosed cases were found to have positive serology, although this was not a required criterion to start medical treatment. Treatment was started once the clinical suspicion of trichinellosis was determined, based on compatible clinical signs and eosinophilia. There were no complications and none of the patients required hospitalization. The meat sample was claimed by the Health Authorities and destroyed, thus avoiding further extension of the outbreak.
  CONCLUSIONS: Sporadic outbreaks of trichinellosis have been described in Spain. In the present paper an outbreak caused by Trichinella britovi has been studied. Early diagnosis suspicion and its communication to the Health Authorities allowed the control of the outbreak and the identification of the contaminated meat. Treatment must be started after clinical suspicion and eosinophilia.

PMID: 12703156

Euro Surveill 2003 Feb;8(2):31-5
Explosive increase of Salmonella Java in poultry in the Netherlands: consequences for public health.
van Pelt W, van der Zee H, Wannet WJ, van de Giessen AW, Mevius DJ, Bolder NM, Komijn RE, van Duynhoven YT.

  In the Netherlands Salmonella Paratyphi B variant Java increased in poultry from less than 2% of all isolates before 1996 to 60% in 2002. Despite exposure to contaminated meat is high, human patients with Java infection are rare (0.3% of all isolates). However, 50% of the human isolates showed PFGE profiles identical to the poultry clone. Resistance to flumequin in S. Java increased from 3% between 1996-2000 to 19% in 2001, and 39% in 2002, while that of other serotypes in poultry remained at about 7%. S. Java is also fast becoming less sensitive to ciprofloxacin.

PMID: 12631972

Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr 2003 Jan-Feb;116(1-2):55-8
Occurrence of Salmonellae in retail raw chicken products in Ethiopia.
Tibaijuka B, Molla B, Hildebrandt G, Kleer J. Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Health Division, Dodoma, Tanzania.

  A cross-sectional study was undertaken to determine the presence and prevalence of salmonellae in retail raw chicken meat and giblets (gizzard and liver) in supermarkets in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). A total of 301 samples (244 chicken meat, 32 gizzards and 25 livers) were collected from 22 randomly selected supermarkets and examined for the presence of Salmonella. For the isolation and identification of salmonellae, the technique recommended by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 6579, 1998) was used. Salmonellae were detected from 54 (17.9%) of the 301 samples examined. Chicken meat and giblet samples in 68.2% (15/22) of the supermarkets were contaminated with salmonellae. The contamination level of Salmonella was higher in chicken giblets as compared to chicken meat, which were respectively 12.3%, 53.1% and 28.0% in chicken meat, gizzard and liver samples. Out of the 54 Salmonella isolates, nine different serotypes were identified: Salmonella Braenderup (31.5%), S. Anatum (25.9%), S. Saintpaul (14.8%), S. Uganda (11.1%), S. Haifa, S. Group B, S. Rough form and S. Typhimurium (each 3.7%) and S. Virchow (1.8%). The high level of Salmonella contamination of chicken meat and giblets observed in the present study indicated the need in an improvement in the microbiological quality of retail chicken in Ethiopia.

PMID: 12592931

Ugeskr Laeger 2003 Jan 6;165(2):107-1
[Environmental epidemiology research leads to a decrease of the exposure limit for mercury] [Article in Danish]
Weihe P, Debes F, White RF, Sorensen N, Budtz-Jorgensen E, Keiding N, Grandjean P. Faeroernes Sygehusvaesen, afdeling for arbejdsmedicin og folkesundhed, Syddansk Universitet, Institut for sundhedstjenesteforskning, og Kobenhavns Universitet, Institut for Folkesundhedsvidenskab, Biostatistisk afdeling.

  The central nervous system is particularly vulnerable to prenatal exposure to methylmercury. Due to the widespread exposure to methylmercury from fish, several prospective environmental epidemiology studies have been initiated, in which the maternal exposure during the pregnancy is related to the neurobehavioural development of the children. We have studied a Faroese birth cohort prenatally exposed to methylmercury from maternal intake of contaminated pilot whale meat. At seven years of age, clear dose-response relationships were observed for deficits in attention, language, and memory. An increase in blood pressure was also associated with the prenatal exposure level. The exposure limit for mercury has therefore been decreased.

PMID: 12561779

Protein Eng 2003 Jan;16(1):37-46
Further improvement of broad specificity hapten recognition with protein engineering.
Korpimaki T, Rosenberg J, Virtanen P, Lamminmaki U, Tuomola M, Saviranta P. Department of Biotechnology, and Department of Bio-Organic Chemistry, University of Turku, FIN-20520 Turku, Finland.

  Sulfa-antibiotics (sulfonamides) are widely used in veterinary medicine. Meat and milk from treated animals can be contaminated with sulfa residues. Current sulfonamide assays are unfit for screening of food, because they are either too laborious, insensitive or specific for a few sulfa compounds only. An immunoassay for detection of all sulfas in a single reaction would be useful for screening. Previously we have improved the broad specificity sulfa binding of antibody 27G3 with random mutagenesis and phage display. In order to improve the properties of this antibody further, mutants from the previous study were recombined and more mutations introduced. These new libraries were enriched with phage display and several different mutant antibodies were isolated. The cross-reaction profile of the best mutant was better than that of the wild-type antibody and the mutants of the previous study: it was capable of binding 10 of the tested 13 sulfonamides within a narrow concentration range and also bound the rest of the sulfas 5- to 11-fold better than the mutants of the previous study.

PMID: 12646691

Parasitol Res 2003 Jan;89(2):141-5
Contamination of Atlantic coast commercial shellfish with Cryptosporidium.
Fayer R, Trout JM, Lewis EJ, Santin M, Zhou L, Lal AA, Xiao L. Animal Waste Pathogen Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA.

  Shellfish (oysters and/or clams) were obtained from 37 commercial harvesting sites in 13 Atlantic coast states from Maine to Florida and one site in New Brunswick, Canada. Gill washings from each of 25 shellfish at each site were examined by immunofluorescence microscopy (IFA) for oocysts of Cryptosporidium. Gill washings from another 25 shellfish at each site were grouped into five pools of five shellfish each. DNA from each pool was utilized for PCR and genotyping. Oocysts were found in 3.7% of 925 oysters and clams examined by IFA in shellfish from New Brunswick and 11 of 13 states. Cryptosporidium DNA was detected by PCR in 35.2% of 185 pools. Cryptosporidium parvum genotypes 1 and 2, and Cryptosporidium meleagridis,all of which have been identified in infected humans, were identified at 37.8% of the sites. Gill washings from every site were tested for the presence of infectious oocysts by biological assay in neonatal BALB/c mice but no mice were found infected, suggesting that either the oocysts were no longer infectious or infections in mice were below the level of detection. Collectively, these findings indicate that Cryptosporidium species, indicative of pollution from human and animal feces and potentially infectious for humans, were found in commercial shellfish from 64.9% of sites examined along the Atlantic coast by either microscopy or molecular testing. Previous reports link periods of high rainfall with the elevated numbers of pathogen contaminated shellfish. Because shellfish in the present study were examined during a period of exceptionally low precipitation, the data are thought to underestimate the number of Cryptosporidium contaminated shellfish likely to be found during periods of normal or above normal precipitation.

PMID: 12489014

Epidemiol Infect 2002 Dec;129(3):635-45
Salmonella and campylobacter contamination of raw retail chickens from different producers: a six year survey.
Wilson IG. Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Bacteriology Department, Belfast City Hospital, Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7AD, UK.

Between 1995 and 2000, a prospective survey was undertaken to investigate the levels of contamination of raw retail chickens (n = 1,127) with salmonella and campylobacter. The levels of contamination over the 6-year period were 11 % (95 % CI +/- 6.5%) for salmonella, and 57% (95% CI +/- 95%) for campylobacter. S. Bredeney (20%) and S. Enteritidis (18%) were the dominant serovars. Although salmonella contamination was higher than in an earlier survey we conducted (7%), since 1998 it has declined to 6%. Many S. Enteritidis isolates (43%) were associated with one large integrated poultry organization that appears to have successfully managed the contamination, and the serovar has not been isolated since 1998. Contamination ranged from 0 to 44% between different producers. There was no significant difference between producers contributing large and small numbers of samples, although some small producers had much poorer contamination rates than others. S. Bareilly, S. Bredeney, S. Enteritidis and S. Virchow showed associations with particular producers. Campylobacter contamination remains high. Contamination ranged from 47 to 81% between different producers. This study did not show a temporal association between contamination of chickens and human campylobacter infections, indicating that many cases of human campylobacteriosis, particularly during seasonal peaks, do not originate from chickens. Control measures that have reduced salmonella contamination have been largely ineffective against campylobacter and new interventions are needed. Most raw chickens are contaminated with these pathogens, and communicating the importance of minimizing this risk to caterers and the public is vital in reducing human infections.

PMID: 12558349

Int J Food Microbiol 2002 Dec 15;79(3):143-51
Vancomycin-resistant enterococci in shellfish, unchlorinated waters, and chicken.
Wilson IG, McAfee GG. Bacteriology Department, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, UK.

  Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) have been a cause of increasing concern chiefly regarding the infection of hospital patients. There is suspicion, but limited evidence, that food and environmental spread may be important. Biomonitoring by examination of bivalve shellfish was used to assess the occurrence of VRE entering the environment. Using pre-enrichment and Lewisham and Slanetz and Bartley agars, 2/125 (1.6%) of shellfish were found to contain enterococci resistant to high levels of vancomycin. Lewisham agar allows relatively rapid identification of VRE. In a second phase of the work using pre-enrichment and Slanetz and Bartley agar, 4/151 (2.7%) shellfish and 5/27 (18.5%) raw chickens contained VRE. Using filtration and pre-enrichment, no VRE were found in 54 unchlorinated water samples. The study shows that environmental prevalence of VRE is low, and that raw chickens are frequently contaminated.

PMID: 12371649

Int J Environ Health Res 2002 Dec;12(4):331-42
Balancing risks in the management of contaminated first nations fisheries.
Wiseman CL, Gobas FA. Center for Environmental Research, JW University Frankfurt, Georg-Voigt-Str 14, 60054 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

  In the 1980s and 1990s, the Government of Canada closed and/or issued advisories for a number of shellfish fisheries in coastal areas of British Columbia because of dioxin contamination. Only the direct health risks (i.e., cancer) of consuming contaminated shellfish for the general population were considered by the Government in the formulation of risk management options. A focus on the direct risks does not provide an adequate basis for risk decisions as the countervailing risks which may be created from management measures may easily be overlooked. This study describes the potential health impacts of risk management options for aboriginal coastal peoples in the management of dioxin contamination. Gold River and Powell River in British Columbia, Canada, are the areas of focus. The cancer risks of consuming dioxin contaminated shellfish for these sites are estimated. To assess the countervailing risks of management decisions for comparison, a scenario was developed in which First Nations peoples substitute shellfish with store-bought foods in their diets in the event of a fishery closure or advisory. Increases in mortality due to coronary heart disease are estimated. The results suggest that the health risks of dietary changes among aboriginal peoples may be as significant as those related to eating dioxin contaminated shellfish.

PMID: 12590781

J Food Prot 2002 Nov;65(11):1700-5
Prevalence of Arcobacter spp. in raw ground pork from several geographical regions according to various isolation methods.
Ohlendorf DS, Murano EA. Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843-2471, USA.

  Studies show that the pathogen Arcobacter is present in beef, poultry, and pork. Several methods have been reported for the isolation of this organism, but none has been adopted as the standard. This has limited the significance of field comparison studies. In the present study, we compared the efficiencies of four Arcobacter isolation methods using raw ground pork collected from slaughter facilities across the United States. We also evaluated the effect of meat fat level and age of animals on the prevalence of Arcobacter in ground pork. The methods chosen for comparison of isolation efficiency were those of Collins, a modified version of the Collins method (Direct Collins), deBoer, and Johnson Murano (JM). These were chosen based on published reports in which they were used to detect Arcobacter in pork products. The JM method was found to be the most successful in consistently detecting Arcobacter, isolating it in 64 of 200 [32%] pork samples compared with the Direct Collins method, which isolated Arcobacter in 52 of 200 of those same samples. The Collins method and the deBoer method found Arcobacter present in only a fraction of the samples. The level of contamination was found to vary among the plants, ranging from 0% to 68% prevalence, with 32% overall for all four plants tested. Additionally, ground pork low in fat had a higher contamination frequency (20%) when compared with high-fat pork (4%). Results also showed that meat from younger animals was more frequently contaminated than that from older animals.

PMID: 12430689

Clin Infect Dis 2002 Oct 1;35(7):859-65 Comment in: Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Apr 1;36(7):933-4; author reply 934-5.
Bacterial contamination of animal feed and its relationship to human foodborne illness.
Crump JA, Griffin PM, Angulo FJ. Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.

  Animal feed is at the beginning of the food safety chain in the "farm-to-fork" model. The emergence of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease has raised awareness of the importance of contaminated animal feed, but less attention has been paid to the role of bacterial contamination of animal feed in human foodborne illness. In the United States, animal feed is frequently contaminated with non-Typhi serotypes of Salmonella enterica and may lead to infection or colonization of food animals. These bacteria can contaminate animal carcasses at slaughter or cross-contaminate other food items, leading to human illness. Although tracing contamination to its ultimate source is difficult, several large outbreaks have been traced back to contaminated animal feed. Improvements in the safety of animal feed should include strengthening the surveillance of animal feed for bacterial contamination and integration of such surveillance with human foodborne disease surveillance systems. A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point program should be instituted for the animal feed industry, and a Salmonella-negative policy for feed should be enforced.

PMID: 12228823

Vet Microbiol 2002 Oct 2;89(1):53-60
The prevalence and PCR detection of Salmonella contamination in raw poultry.
Whyte P, Mc Gill K, Collins JD, Gormley E. Food Hygiene Laboratory, Department of Large Animal Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, 4, Dublin, Ireland.

  Contaminated poultry meat has been identified as one of the principal foodborne sources of Salmonella. The development of rapid detection assays for Salmonella would enable official agencies and food industries to identify contaminated foodstuffs in a more timely manner. In addition, these diagnostic tools could allow more 'real time' decisions to be made regarding end product acceptability. In this study, a survey was carried out to determine the prevalence of Salmonella in raw broiler carcasses. A total of 198 neck skin samples were obtained from within 40 flocks at a commercial broiler slaughtering facility. The presence of Salmonella was assessed by traditional culture methods and by a Salmonella-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Salmonella was recovered from 32 (16%) of all samples using traditional culture methods. In contrast, the PCR assay proved to be more sensitive and detected Salmonella DNA in 38 (19%) of the samples tested. The pathogen was detected in 45 (23%) of the 198 samples when culture and PCR results were combined. The sensitivity of the PCR test was also greater than culture when detecting Salmonella from within flocks (53% of flocks by PCR, 30% of flocks by culture). The combination of both tests revealed that 55% of the flocks were contaminated with Salmonella. The PCR assay proved to be a highly specific and sensitive method for detecting Salmonella and the incorporation of a routine PCR test in conjunction with standard culture could be effective in providing a more accurate profile of the prevalence of this pathogen in broiler carcasses.

PMID: 12223162

Tijdschr Diergeneeskd 2002 Oct 15;127(20):625-9
[Explosive increase in Salmonella java in poultry. Consequences for public health] [Article in Dutch]
van Pelt W, van der Zee H, Wannet WJ, van de Giessen AW, Mevius DJ, Bolder NM, Komijn RE, van Duynhoven YT. Centrum voor Infectieziekten Epidemiologie (CIE), RIVM. Keuringsdienst van Waren Oost, Zutphen.

  In the Netherlands S. Paratyphi B variation Java increased in poultry from less than 2% of all isolates before 1996 up to 40% in 2001. This development in poultry runs in parallel with that in Germany and appears not to occur in other European countries. A German study shows that in the late nineties it concerns isolates of only one multi-resistant clone of Java (in Holland as well) whilst isolates before the middle nineties were genetically much more heterogeneous and sensitive to antibiotics. Although the exposition of humans to contaminated poultry meat is relatively high, human patients with a Java infection are rare. Treatment of poultry flocks with quinolones was about 13% in 2000-2001. Resistance to flumequin of Java increased from 3% between 1996-1999 to 20% between 2000-2002 whilst that of other serotypes in poultry remained about 7%. Java is also fast becoming less sensitive to ciprofloxacin which is the antibiotic of first choice in serious cases of salmonellosis. The ministries of public health, agriculture and the production boards, with their research institutes, together with the poultry meat production chain integrations have recently decided to work together in order to determine the public health importance of the Java epidemic in poultry and finding measures for effective control in the poultry industry.

PMID: 12425215

Arch Environ Health 2002 Sep-Oct;57(5):496-509
Dietary intakes and plasma organochlorine contaminant levels among Great Lakes fish eaters.
Cole DC, Sheeshka J, Murkin EJ, Kearney J, Scott F, Ferron LA, Weber JP. Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

  Nutritional intakes and contaminant burdens should be assessed jointly in individuals who are at high risk of environmental exposures to contaminants through food. In this study, the authors used shore surveys and community contacts to recruit 91 individuals who frequently consumed Great Lakes fish. These individuals provided dietary intake information and fasting blood samples for lipid and contaminant analyses. Participants ate an annual median of 88 meals of Great Lakes fish. Asian-Canadians consumed more total fish meals (i.e., Great Lakes, non-Great Lakes, and other) (medians = 213.0 females, 223.0 males) than Euro-Canadians (medians = 131.0 females, 137.5 males). The higher total fish consumption by Asian-Canadians was associated with a lower percentage of energy derived from fat, higher protein and iron intakes, and higher plasma concentrations of omega-3 essential fatty acids (e.g., median docosahexaenoic acid levels [microgram/l] in Asian-Canadian females = 5.48, males = 4.38; in Euro-Canadian females = 2.93, males = 2.27). Plasma organochlorine contaminant lipid weight concentrations varied by country of origin and by gender (e.g., median total polychlorinated biphenyls [microgram/kg] in Asian-Canadian females = 490.6, males = 729.0; in Euro-Canadian females = 339.6, males = 355.5). Age was the most consistent predictor (+ve) of contaminant concentrations, followed by years spent in Canada (for Asian-Canadians). Associations with sport fish consumption variables were less consistent than for the aforementioned predictors. Given both the health benefits and potential risks of fish consumption, policies that address diverse ethnocultural groups should support continued consumption of sport fish, but from less-contaminated sources than are currently used.

PMID: 12641195

J Cancer Epidemiol Prev 2002;7(2):59-70
UK dietary exposure to BSE in beef mechanically recovered meat: by birth cohort and gender. Cooper JD, Bird SM. MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge, UK.

  BACKGROUND: Meat recovered mechanically from bovine vertebral columns for use in burgers, sausages and other meat products may have been contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) from recovered spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia (DRG). We quantified UK exposure to BSE in beef mechanically recovered meat (MRM) by birth cohort (born pre-1940, in 1940-1969, post-1969), gender and calendar period (1980-1989, 1990-1996) because information on any two of BSE exposure intensity, vCJD incubation period and the new cases of vCJD tells us about the third.
  METHODS: Synthesis of evidence on BSE epidemiology, MRM production, infectivity in spinal cord and DRG, and UK dietary consumption.
   FINDINGS: Production of beef MRM peaked at 5000 tonnes in 1987, was nil in 1989 but recovered to 2000 tonnes in 1995 when it ceased altogether; reportedly 90% was used in burgers. Mean weight of spinal cord recovered per carcass was 3.3 g (95% credible interval 0.24-12.02 g) before the specified bovine offal (SBO) legislation and 1.5 g (0.02-8.30 g) after the legislation; whereas recovered weight of DRG (as infectious as spinal cord) was 27 g. Recovery of spinal cord from 1-year pre-clinical bovines peaked in 1988 at 238 g and of DRG in 1993 at 4250 g (medians). Median infectivity (5th and 95th percentiles) consumed in beef MRM was 33 250 (30 550-35 950), 65 600 (60 250-71 050) and 14 350 (13 150-15 600) bovine oral (Bo) ID50 units for the post-1969, 1940-1969 and pre-1940 birth cohorts in 1980-1989; and 44 250 (41 300-47 350), 39 600 (37 100-42,400) and 8750 (8100-9350) Bo ID50 units in 1990-1996. Males consumed almost 58% of infectivity in both periods. If the worst-case level of infectivity pertained, exposure, instead of halving in 1990-1996, would be sustained at around its 1980-1989 level for the two older birth cohorts and would have doubled in 1990-1996 for the post-1969 birth cohort.
  INTERPRETATION: SBO legislation in 1989 contributed only a 6% reduction in the infectivity in beef MRM. Salient sensitivity issues are highlighted.

PMID: 12501956

J Vet Med B Infect Dis Vet Public Health 2002 Nov;49(9):438-44
Estimating the prevalence of Salmonella spp. in swine herds--influence of sensitivity and specificity of Salmonella detection.
Steinbach G, Blaha T, Methner U. Federal Institute for Health Protection of Consumers and Veterinary Medicine, Bacterial Animal Diseases and Zoonoses Control, Jena, Germany.

  Information about the proportion of truly Salmonella-free herds is required for an evaluation of the epidemiological situation, the development of control strategies and their implementation. Findings regarding the presence of salmonellas in faeces and intestinal lymph nodes as well as the presence of Salmonella antibodies in meat juice from slaughtered pigs were obtained in the context of a study conducted by a number of institutes. These data were used for an analysis of the validity of data on the prevalence of infected animals within herds and on the prevalence of infected herds. The proportion of batches or herds with exclusively negative individual findings was found to depend not only on the true proportion of truly Salmonella-free animals within herds but quite essentially also on the distribution of the proportion of infected animals within herds, the sensitivity of the methods of examination and sample sizes. When taking into account the existing dependencies, it was found that among the swine, the real numbers of Salmonella carriers were much higher than shown by bacteriological and serological examination. Regarding salmonellosis in swine, also a number of contaminated herds must be expected which is far higher than that shown by the number of herds with positive findings in at least one animal. Even a low contamination of all or almost all herds would result in the numbers of 'negative' batches observed, i.e. batches with exclusively negative individual findings. A rating of the salmonella exposure of herds as high, low, or very low is possible and may, and should be, used for measures of consumer protection, irrespective of the proportion of truly Salmonella-free herds.

PMID: 12489712

J Vet Med Sci 2002 Nov;64(11):1041-4
Isolation and Characterization of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 from Beef, Pork and Cattle Fecal Samples in Changchun, China.
Zhou Z, Nishikawa Y, Zhu P, Hong S, Hase A, Cheasty T, Smith HR, Zheng M, Haruki K. Faculty of Animal Medicine, Changchun University of Agriculture and Animal Sciences.

  Meat samples and fecal specimens from adult cattle were collected in Changchun, China and were examined for presence of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serogroup O157. STEC O157 strains were isolated from 2 (5%) of 40 beef, 1 (3.3%) of 30 pork, and 3 (1.7%) of 176 adult cattle fecal samples. The strains belonged to phage types (PT) 4, 8, or 47. Two beef strains and a strain previously isolated from a patient in Shandong, China, were PT-4 and showed a similar PFGE pattern, suggesting the possibility of food-borne transmission. It is suggested that cattle are a reservoir of STEC O157:H7 and meat products are contaminated by this pathogen in Changchun, China as well as in other countries.

PMID: 12499691

Foodborne Disease Outbreaks in United States Schools
from The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal® Posted 08/19/2002


Results: From 1973 through 1997, states and local health departments reported 604 outbreaks of foodborne disease in schools. The median number of school outbreaks annually was 25 (range, 9 to 44). In 60% of the outbreaks an etiology was not determined, and in 45% a specific food vehicle of transmission was not determined.  Salmonella was the most commonly identified pathogen, accounting for 36% of outbreak reports with a known etiology.  Specific food vehicles of transmission were epidemiologically identified in 333 (55%) of the 604 outbreaks.  The most commonly implicated vehicles were foods containing poultry (18.6%), salads (6.0%), Mexican-style food (6.0%), beef (5.7%) and dairy products excluding ice cream (5.0%). The most commonly reported food preparation practices that contributed to these school-related outbreaks were improper food storage and holding temperatures and food contaminated by a food handler.

In fiscal year 2000 >27.4 million children each day got their lunch through the National School Lunch Program.

Between 1973 and 1997, >600 foodborne disease outbreaks in schools were reported to CDC. These outbreaks resulted in nearly 50 000 illnesses, >1500 hospitalizations and 1 death.

Epidemiol Infect 2002 Aug;129(1):19-27
Human salmonellosis associated with young poultry from a contaminated hatchery in Michigan and the resulting public health interventions, 1999 and 2000.
Wilkins MJ, Bidol SA, Boulton ML, Stobierski MG, Massey JP, Robinson-Dunn B. Michigan Department of Community Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, Lansing 48909, USA.

  Although approximately 95% of disease caused by nontyphoidal salmonella is transmitted by foodborne vehicles, four documented salmonella outbreaks in the 1990s have been traced to contact with young poultry. No environmental studies of source hatcheries were completed. This case-control study was performed by comparing culture-confirmed Salmonella Infantis in Michigan residents, identified between May and July 1999, with two age- and neighbourhood-matched controls. Eighty environmental and bird tissue samples were collected from an implicated hatchery; all salmonella isolates underwent pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis. The study included 19 case-patients sharing the same PFGE subtype and 37 matched controls. Within 5 days before illness onset, 74% of case-patients resided in households raising young poultry compared with 16% of controls (matched OR 19.5; 95% CI 2.9, 378.1). Eight hatchery samples yielded Salmonella Infantis with PFGE subtypes matching the patients' isolates. This investigation identified birds from a single hatchery as the source of human illness and confirmed the link by matching PFGE patterns from humans, birds and the hatchery environment. Subsequent public health interventions reduced, but did not eliminate, transmission of poultry-associated salmonellosis. Five additional PFGE-linked cases were identified in Spring 2000, necessitating quarantine of the hatchery for depopulation, cleaning and disinfection.

PMID: 12211587

Pol J Vet Sci 2002;5(2):103-15
Animal health and foodborne pathogens: enterohaemorrhagic O157:H7 strains and other pathogenic Escherichia coli virotypes (EPEC, ETEC, EIEC, EHEC).
Gonzalez Garcia EA. Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Reference Laboratory of E. coli, Faculty of Veterinary in Lugo, University of Santiago de Compostela 27002 Lugo, Galiza, Spain.

  The majority of interactions between microorganisms and animals are based on convenient relations for both of them. Symbiotic microorganisms, like intestinal microbiota, produce important vitamins for animals and protects them from putative pathogens. In general, for monogastric animals, the main contribution of intestinal microorganisms is to supply with growth factors the animal diet, and in some cases they are responsible for providing essential vitamins (e.g. vitamin K). Some particular and relatively few microbes like viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and algae are responsible for animal illness. Because microorganisms are easily dispersed, display physiological diversity, and tolerate extreme conditions, they are ubiquitous and may contaminate and grow in many products, including food and raw materials. Foodborne diseases are caused by consumption of contaminated food or beverages. Many different disease-causing pathogens can contaminate food, so there are many different foodborne infections. In addition, poisonous chemicals and biological toxins can cause disease if they are present in food. To know how a particular disease is spreading is an important matter to take appropriate steps to stop it. For example Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections can spread through contaminated food (meat, vegetables, cheese, etc.), contaminated drinking water or juices, contaminated swimming water and from person to person. Among foodborne pathogens, the most frequently detected are bacteria, but also parasitic protozoa and worms, viruses, natural toxins and other pathogenic agents like prions are important agents for foodborne diseases. Particular pathogenic types of E. coli, classified by their specific pathogenic mechanisms (toxins, adhesins, invasiveness, etc.) are actually known as E. coli virotypes. Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), which constitute the main part of this review, were also named verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) or Shiga toxigenic E. coli (STEC). EHEC strains cause haemorrhagic colitis (HC), haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and thrombotic thrombocytopaenic purpura (TP) in humans. They synthetize shigatoxins (verotoxins) which are potent cytotoxic substances, adherence factors and enterohaemolysin. EHEC are responsible for many outbreaks of bloody diarrhoea caused by contaminated foods: beef, milk, fruits, juice, water, etc. The most important serogroups among EHEC are O26, O111 and O157, being O157:H7 the most relevant serotype in foodborne outbreaks. The normal intestinal microflora of cattle was found to be the most relevant reservoir of EHEC strains.

PMID: 12189946

J Food Prot 2002 Aug;65(8):1326-8
Prevalence of thermophilic Campylobacter spp. in ready-to-eat foods and raw poultry in Northern Ireland.
Moore JE, Wilson TS, Wareing DR, Humphrey TJ, Murphy PG. Northern Ireland Public Health Laboratory, Department of Bacteriology, Belfast City Hospital, UK.

  Although there have been numerous studies investigating the prevalence of campylobacters in animals and raw meats, there are limited data on the persistence of these organisms in ready-to-eat (RTE) foodstuffs. Although poultry is now well established as a major reservoir of thermophilic campylobacters, it is widely assumed that hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) controls in commercial and industrial settings are effective in eliminating this hazard through thorough cooking of RTE products. Therefore, it was the primary aim of this study to investigate the effectiveness of HACCP controls in eliminating campylobacters in such cooked RTE foods by attempting to isolate viable organisms from product. Concurrently, the results of this study demonstrate that local poultry is highly contaminated with campylobacters. Commercially available RTE foodstuffs (n = 2,030) consisting of 1,061 poultry-related cooked products and 969 other products were analyzed and were not found to contain thermophilic Campylobacter spp. In addition, 107 raw chickens (63 fresh birds and 44 frozen birds) were sampled, and 94% of the fresh birds and 77% of the frozen birds examined were demonstrated to be contaminated with campylobacters, with Campylobacter jejuni, Campylobacter coli, and Campylobacter lari accounting for 69, 30, and 1% of the contaminating organisms, respectively. In general, commercially available RTE foodstuffs, including cooked poultry, are not commonly contaminated with campylobacters and thus do not appear to represent a significant cause of clinical infection of Campylobacter spp. in Northern Ireland. However, raw poultry produce, including fresh and frozen chicken, frequently tested positive for campylobacters. Implementation of HACCP systems by food processors will help to minimize and/or eliminate the risk posed by this organism to the consumer.

PMID: 12182488

Int J Parasitol 2002 Aug;32(9):1193-9
Prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in commercial meat products as monitored by polymerase chain reaction--food for thought?
Aspinall TV, Marlee D, Hyde JE, Sims PF. Department of Biomolecular Sciences, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 88, Sackville Street, Manchester M60 1QD, UK.

  DNA was extracted from 71 meat samples obtained from UK retail outlets. All of these DNA preparations gave the expected polymerase chain reaction products when amplified with primers specific for the species from which the meat originated. A second polymerase chain reaction analysis, using primers specific for the Toxoplasma gondii SAG2 locus, revealed the presence of this parasite in 27 [38%] of the meat samples. Restriction analysis and DNA sequencing showed that 21 of the contaminated meats contained parasites genotyped as type I at the SAG2 locus, whilst six of the samples contained parasites of both types I and II. Toxoplasma- positive samples were subjected to further polymerase chain reaction analysis to determine whether any carried an allele of the dihydropteroate synthase gene that has recently been shown to be causally associated with sulfonamide resistance in T. gondii. In all cases, this analysis confirmed that parasites were present in the samples and, additionally, revealed that none of them carried the drug-resistant form of dihydropteroate synthase. These results suggest that a significant proportion of meats commercially available in the UK are contaminated with T. gondii. Although none of the parasites detected in this study carried the sulfonamide-resistance mutation, a simplified procedure for monitoring this situation merits development.

PMID: 12117502

New England Journal of Medicine Volume 347:555-560 August 22, 2002 Number 8
An Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections among Visitors to a Dairy Farm
John A. Crump, et. al.

   ABSTRACT Background Outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections have involved direct transmission from animals and their environment to humans. We describe an outbreak among visitors to a Pennsylvania dairy and petting farm that provides public access to animals.
  Methods We conducted both a case–control study among visitors to a farm to identify risk factors for infection and a household survey to determine the rates of diarrheal illness among these visitors. We performed an extensive environmental study to identify sources of E. coli O157:H7 on the farm.
  Results Fifty-one patients with confirmed or suspected E. coli O157:H7 infection were enrolled in the case–control study. The median age of the patients was four years, and the hemolytic–uremic syndrome developed in eight. Contact with calves and their environment was associated with an increased risk of infection, whereas hand washing was protective. The household survey indicated that visitors to the farm during the outbreak had higher than expected rates of diarrhea. Environmental studies showed that 28 of the 216 cattle on the farm (13 percent) were colonized with E. coli O157:H7 that had the same distinct pattern on pulsed-field gel electrophoresis that was found in isolates from the patients. This organism was also recovered from surfaces that were accessible to the public.
  Conclusions In a large outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections among visitors to a dairy farm, predominantly children, high rates of carriage of E. coli O157:H7 among calves and young cattle most likely resulted in contamination of both the animals' hides and the environment.

J Agric Food Chem 2002 Jul 17;50(15):4194-201
Improving broad specificity hapten recognition with protein engineering.
Korpimaki T, Rosenberg J, Virtanen P, Karskela T, Lamminmaki U, Tuomola M, Vehniainen M, Saviranta P. Department of Biotechnology, University of Turku, FIN-20520 Turku, Finland.

  Sulfa antibiotics (sulfonamides) are derivatives of p-aminobenzenesulfonamide that are widely used in veterinary medicine. Foods derived from treated animals may be contaminated with these drugs. However, current immunobased sulfonamide detection methods are unfit for screening of products because they are either too insensitive or specific for a few compounds only. An immunoassay capable of detecting all sulfas in a single reaction would be ideal for screening. For development of a binder capable of binding all sulfas, a protein engineering approach was chosen and the properties of monoclonal antibody 27G3 were improved with mutagenesis followed by selection with phage display. Several different mutant antibodies were isolated. The cross-reaction profile of the best mutant antibody was significantly improved over that of the wild-type antibody: it was capable of binding 9 of the tested 13 sulfonamides within a narrow concentration range and also bound the rest of the sulfas, albeit within a wider concentration range.

PMID: 12105945

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2002 Jul 26;51(29):637-9
Multistate outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections associated with eating ground beef--United States, June-July 2002.

  During July 2002, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) identified an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections among Colorado residents. This report summarizes the results of an ongoing epidemiologic and laboratory investigation that has linked 28 illnesses in Colorado and six other states to eating contaminated ground beef products recalled by ConAgra Beef Company on June 30, 2002. To date, seven patients have been hospitalized; five developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS).

PMID: 12186220

Toxicon 2002 Jul;40(7):909-15
First evidence of an extensive northern European distribution of azaspiracid poisoning (AZP) toxins in shellfish.
James KJ, Furey A, Lehane M, Ramstad H, Aune T, Hovgaard P, Morris S, Higman W, Satake M, Yasumoto T. Department of Chemistry, Ecotoxicology Research Unit, Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland.

  Azaspiracids have recently been identified as the toxins responsible for a series of human intoxications in Europe since 1995, following the consumption of cultured mussels (Mytilus edulis) from the west coast of Ireland. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometric (LC-MS) methods have been applied in the study reported here to investigate the new human toxic syndrome, azaspiracid poisoning. Separation of azaspiracid (AZA1) and its analogues, 8-methylazaspiracid (AZA2) and 22-demethylazaspiracid (AZA3), was achieved using reversed-phase LC and coupled, via an electrospray ionisation source, to an ion-trap mass spectrometer. These azaspiracids have now been identified in mussels from Craster (north-east England) and Sognefjord (south-west Norway) using source collision induced dissociation-MS and multiple tandem MS detection. AZA1 was the predominant toxin and toxin profiles were similar to those found in contaminated Irish shellfish. This is the first report of the occurrence of these azaspiracids outside Ireland with the significant implications that these toxins may occur in shellfish throughout northern Europe.

PMID: 12076644

Int J Food Microbiol 2002 Jul 25;77(1-2):55-9
A semi-quantitative seafood safety risk assessment.
Sumner J, Ross T. Centre for Food Safety and Quality, School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.

  As part of a semi-quantitative risk assessment of 10 seafood hazard/product combinations, a risk assessment tool was used to generate a Risk Ranking. The tool is in a spreadsheet software format and provides a risk estimate, which is scaled between 0 and 100, where 0 represents no risk and 100 represents all meals containing a lethal dose of the hazard. A full description of the tool is contained in Ross and Sumner (this issue). Based on their ranking, seafoods in Australia fell into three risk categories. Hazard/product pairs with ranking < 32 included mercury poisoning (Relative Risk = 24), Clostridium botulinum in canned fish (RR = 25), or in vacuum-packed cold-smoked fish (RR = 28), parasites in sushi/sashimi (RR = 31), viruses in shellfish from uncontaminated waters, (RR = 31), enteric bacteria in imported cooked shrimp (RR = 31) and algal biotoxins from controlled waters (RR = 31). It is noted that there have been no documented cases of food-borne illness from any of the above hazard/product pairings in Australia. Those with rankings 32-48 included Vibrio parahaemolyticus in cooked prawns (RR = 37), V. cholerae in cooked prawns (RR = 37), Listeria monocytogenes in cold-smoked seafoods (RR = 39), scombrotoxicosis (RR = 40), V. vulnificus in oysters (RR = 41), ciguatera in the general Australian population (RR = 45), L. monocytogenes in susceptible (RR = 45) and extremely susceptible populations (RR = 47) and enteric bacteria in imported cooked shrimp eaten by vulnerable consumers (RR = 48). Almost all the hazard/product pairs in this category have caused the outbreaks of food poisoning in Australasia. Those hazard/product pairs with rankings >48 included ciguatera from recreational fishing in susceptible areas (RR = 60), viruses in shellfish from contaminated waters (RR = 67) and algal biotoxins from uncontrolled waters in an algal event (RR = 72). There have been significant (>100 cases) food poisoning incidents involving viruses and biotoxins in shellfish, while ciguatera poisoning is prevalent among coastal communities in Australia's warmer waters.

PMID: 12076038

J Food Prot 2002 Jun;65(6):1041-4
Salmonella serotypes isolated from nonhuman sources in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 1996 through 2000.
Tavechio AT, Ghilardi AC, Peresi JT, Fuzihara TO, Yonamine EK, Jakabi M, Fernandes SA. Enteropathogens Laboratory, Instituto Adolfo Lutz, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

  A total of 4,581 Salmonella strains isolated from nonhuman sources, including foodstuffs associated with foodborne Salmonella outbreaks, from January 1996 through December 2000 were serotyped at the Enteropathogens Laboratory, Instituto Adolfo Lutz, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Among the 123 different serotypes identified, Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serotype Enteritidis (Salmonella Enteritidis) was the most prevalent (32.7%), ranking first for almost every kind of source. The next most common serotypes were Salmonella Senftenberg (10.3%), Salmonella Hadar (6.8%), Salmonella Agona (5.1%), and Salmonella Typhimurium (2.4%). Rough strains belonging to the subspecies S. enterica subsp. enterica (4.8%), S. enterica subsp. arizonae (<1%), S. enterica subsp. diarizonae (<1%), and S. enterica subsp. houtenae (<1%) were also detected. Foodstuffs (including poultry meat for consumption) contained 38.1% of the studied Salmonella strains, poultry flocks (from several farms under salmonellosis control by the owners) contained 21.7%, the environment contained 10.6%, sewage contained 9.4%, water contained 6.6%, animal feed contained 4.4%, chill water from poultry-processing operations contained 2.2%, and other sources contained 7.0%. Foodstuffs extensively contaminated with Salmonella strains were poultry meat (40%), cow meat (11%), desserts (8%), mayonnaise (6%), sausage (5%), and unpasteurized shell eggs (4%), and there were several other food sources (26%). Homemade mayonnaise was the most common vehicle for Salmonella foodborne outbreaks, and Salmonella Enteritidis was the serotype most isolated (95%) from that source. According to these data and previously published data concerning Salmonella strains isolated in Sao Paulo State, almost the same serotypes have predominated among nonhuman sources for the last decade.

PMID: 12092719

Food Chem Toxicol 2002 Jun;40(6):767-79
Organochlorine chemicals in seafood: occurrence and health concerns.
Smith AG, Gangolli SD. MRC Toxicology Unit, Hodgkin Building, University of Leicester, Lancaster Road, LE1 9HN, UK.

  The cheap availability of chlorine gas, together with the development of industrial chlorinating procedures in the 20th century, led to the production of a wide range of organochlorine compounds many with a variety of commercial applications, including usage as insecticides and defoliants and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used as coolants in electricity supply transformers. However, it was soon found that many of these technologically valuable chemicals suffered from a major disadvantage in that they resisted biodegradation and that the continued use of these compounds would lead to their persistence and accumulation in the environment and thus enter the human food chain. Despite regulatory bans or strict limits on usage being imposed on organochlorine pesticides in most countries, these compounds continue to be detected in measurable amounts in the eco-system including marine life. In general, organochlorine levels in fish intended for human consumption are low and probably [probably?? - ljf] below levels likely to adversely affect human health. Populations at higher risk than most people are those subsisting largely on fish and other marine life. Additionally, fish oils obtained from contaminated fish, if consumed in substantial quantities by infants and young children, might present potential health problems if levels are not continually regulated. Behavioral and neurological effects have been reported in children and ascribed to the consumption of PCB contaminated diet including fish. Another current major human health concern, yet to be resolved, about organochlorine contaminants in the human diet relates to the potential ability of many of these chemicals at low doses to act as "endocrine disruptors".

PMID: 11983271

Arch Latinoam Nutr 2002 Jun;52(2):155-9
[Clostridium perfringens in raw and cooked meats and its relation with the environment in Costa Rica] [Article in Spanish]
Rodriguez E, Gamboa Mdel M, Vargas P. Laboratorio de Investigacion en Bacteriologia Anaerobia, Centro de Investigacion en Enfermedades Tropicales, Facultad de Microbiologia, Universidad de Costa Rica.

  The presence of Clostridium perfringens in eight slaughter houses from Costa Rica was analyzed using the Most Probable Number (MPN) technique, in order to assess the risk of acquiring a food borne intoxication due to consumption of contaminated meat. C. perfringens was detected in 29 (88%) out of 33 soil samples collected from the slaughter house surroundings (average 6.7 x 10(2) MPN/g), as well as in 70 (93%) out of 75 intestinal contents of slaughtered animals (average 3 x 10(4) MPN/g), in 42 (55%) out of 76 samples of slaughtered meat (average 2.2 x 10(4) MPN/g) and in 30 (61%) out of 49 retail meats (average 8 x 10(3) MPN/g). In addition, the presence of this bacterium was evaluated in ten retail meat markets located in the Metropolitan Area of Costa Rica, where it was isolated from 15 (75%) out of 20 samples of ground meat and from 28 (36%) de 78 stew meat samples (average 1.9 x 10(3) and 7.5 x 10(2) MPN/g, respectively). Only one out of 35 samples of cooked meat obtained from 32 restaurants that utilize heated water baths (average temperature of 82 degrees C) was positive for C. perfringens (4 MPN/g, temperature 72 degrees C). Out of 1121 bacterial isolates obtained, 250 were evaluated for enterotoxigenicity. Only 3 (1.2%) of these tested positive for enterotoxin production, probably because most wild strains are not toxin producers, even though they can be induced to produce it as a result of repeated thermal shocks. The present results urge the adoption of adequate preventive measures and high sanitary standards in the meat processing industry in Costa Rica, in order to minimize the risk of food-borne intoxications caused by C. perfringens, due to its widespread distribution and potential human health hazard.

PMID: 12184149

Int J Food Microbiol 2002 May 5;75(1-2):11-8
Detection of hepatitis A virus in mussels from different sources marketed in Puglia region (South Italy).
Chironna M, Germinario C, De Medici D, Fiore A, Di Pasquale S, Quarto M, Barbuti S. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Bari, Policlinico, Italy.

  Hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection is endemic in Puglia (South Italy). Epidemiological studies indicate that shellfish consumption, particularly mussels, is a major risk factor for HAV infection, since these products are eaten raw or slightly cooked. Nested reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has been shown to be a sensitive technique for the detection of HAV in mussels. The aim of the present study was to detect the presence of HAV in a large sample of mussels by nested RT-PCR and to confirm the presence of infectious viral particles in positive samples by cell culture infection and RT-PCR confirmation. Two hundred and ninety samples of mussels from different sources were collected between December 1999 and January 2000. One hundred samples were collected before being subjected to depuration, 90 after depuration, and 100 were sampled in different seafood markets. HAV-RNA was detected in 20 (20.0%) of non-depurated mussels, in 10 (11.1%) of depurated samples, and in 23 (23.0%) of samples collected in the shellfish markets, without any significant difference in the prevalence of positive samples by collection sources (chi2 = 4.79, p = 0.09). Of the 53 samples found positive by nested RT-PCR, 18 (34.0%) resulted positive by cell culture assay. No relationship between viral contamination and bacterial contamination was found (p = 0.41). This study confirms the usefulness of molecular techniques in detecting HAV in shellfish and, thus, for the screening of a large sample of naturally contaminated mussels. Improved shellfish depuration methods are needed to obtain virus-safe shellfish and reduce the risk for public human health.

PMID: 11999106

Tunis Med 2002 Apr;80(4):207-13
[Study of Salmonella contamination of restaurant meat products collected over a period of one year] [Article in French]
Khosrof Ben Jaafar S, Jiridi M, Fodha M, Salem I. Ecole Superieure des Sciences et Techniques de la Sante de Tunis.

  The study has been carried out on 898 food samples of animal origin: bovin meat, ovin, porcin, rabbit, turkey and chicken in 1998 from auto-control food service of Chahed laboratory. II consisted in studying and identifying salmonella serovars and to determine the nature of the most contaminated meat products. The results of the study are as follows: 3.7% of meat product samples are contaminated by salmonella. On the 480 samples of bovin meat, 4.2% are contaminated by salmonella. 3.8% ovin meat is contaminated by salmonella, 1.7% turkey meat and 3.6% chicken meat. Rabbit meat are not contaminated by salmonella. As far as the products of a bovin origin are concerned the results are as follows: 2.7% of meat is contaminated by salmonella, 5.3% of mechanically separated meat and 7.7% of giblets are also contaminated. Therefore salmonella contaminates 4.3% of red meat and 2.6% of fowl. S. anatum, Corvallis, typhimurium, Braenderup, Zanzibar, Enteritidis, Livingstone are different detected serovars. S. anatum represents 40% of contamination whereas. S. typhimurium represents 12% Of contaminations.

PMID: 12416357

An Acad Bras Cienc 2002 Mar;74(1):187-91
Semiquantitative mercury determination in fish: a tool for poisoning prevention.
Yallouz AV, Calixto T, Hacon S. Coordenacao de Quimica Analitica, Centro de Tecnologia Mineral, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 21941-590, Brasil.

  Human exposure to mercury intoxication through contaminated fish ingestion has been well studied, mainly among Japanese population. The Brazilian population, particularly in the Amazon region, is now in focus due to findings of fish contamination. Major health impacts caused by mercury affect mostly people who have a regular fish diet. A continuous checking for mercury content in the most consumed fish could prevent human intoxication. A simple, non-instrumental method to allow a continuous checking of the mercury content in fish was developed. Based on this method, we are proposing a prevention action where community agents can be trained to perform fish analysis. Technical Schools and Universities located nearby the affected areas would be in charge of quality control programs for the fish analysis as well as for the selection, training and update for operators.

PMID: 11960187

Epidemiol Infect 2002 Feb;128(1):29-36
Changing epidemiology of human leptospirosis in New Zealand.
Thornley CN, Baker MG, Weinstein P, Maas EW. Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd., Kenepuru Science Centre, Porirua, New Zealand.

  The objective was to describe the current epidemiology and trends in New Zealand human leptospirosis, using descriptive epidemiology of laboratory surveillance and disease notification data, 1990-8. The annual incidence of human leptospirosis in New Zealand 1990-8 was 44 per 100,000. Incidence was highest among meat processing workers (163.5/100,000), livestock farm workers (91.7), and forestry-related workers (24.1). The most commonly detected serovars were Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar (sv.) hardjo (hardjobovis) (46.1%), L. interrogans sv. pomona (24.4%) and L. borgpetersenii sv. ballum (11.9%). The annual incidence of leptospirosis declined from 5.7/100,000 in 1990-2 to 2.9/100,000 in 1996-8. Incidence of L. borgpetersenii sv. hardjo and L. interrogans sv. pomona infection declined, while incidence of L. borgpetersenii sv. ballum infection increased. The incidence of human leptospirosis in New Zealand remains high for a temperate developed country. Increasing L. borgpetersenii sv. ballum case numbers suggest changing transmission patterns via direct or indirect exposure to contaminated surface water. Targeted and evaluated disease control programmes should be renewed.

PMID: 11895088

J Food Prot 2002 Feb;65(2):393-402
A polymerase chain reaction-based method for the detection of hepatitis A virus in produce and shellfish.
Goswami BB, Kulka M, Ngo D, Istafanos P, Cebula TA. Division of Molecular Biological Research and Evaluation, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drag Administration, Washington, DC 20204, USA.

  Outbreaks of gastroenteritis that are suspected to be of viral origin are on the rise. Thus, there is a need for regulatory agencies entrusted with food safety to develop adequate techniques for the detection of viruses in foods. We have established a general procedure for the detection of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in shellfish that, with minor modifications, is also applicable to fresh produce such as cilantro. Total RNA was isolated from shellfish or cilantro, followed by isolation of poly(A)-containing RNA. Because HAV genomic RNA contains a poly(A) tail, the isolation of poly(A)-containing RNA also enriches HAV genomic RNA. Reverse transcription was used to convert the RNA to cDNA, and then amplification was carried out by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Reamplification with internal primers was used to improve the quality and the quantity of amplified DNA, allowing for post-PCR analysis such as sequence identification of the viral strain. With this procedure, multiple samples could be analyzed in four working days by a single trained individual. The nominal sensitivity of detection of the procedure was 0.15 TCID50 (50% tissue culture infective dose) per 0.62 g of tissue with a test virus. The direct RNA isolation protocol avoided pitfalls associated with whole-virus purification procedures by replacing virus precipitation steps involving polyethylene glycol and Procipitate with phenol extraction. The method is straightforward and reliable. We successfully used this procedure to detect naturally occurring HAV in clams involved in a gastroenteritis outbreak, as well as in cilantro artificially contaminated with a test virus.

PMID: 11858194

Sci Total Environ 2002 Feb 21;285(1-3):177-85
Daily intake of TBT, Cu, Zn, Cd and As for fishermen in Taiwan.
Chien LC, Hung TC, Choang KY, Yeh CY, Meng PJ, Shieh MJ, Ha BC. School of Public Health, Taipei Medical University, Taiwan.

  The consumption of contaminated seafood has been reported as an important route of human exposure to metals in Taiwan. We consider the concentrations of TBT, Cu, Zn, Cd, As, and the consumption of oysters of Taiwanese to be the important information related to public health in Taiwan. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the public health risks associated with TBT, Cu, Zn, Cd and As from shellfish for the general population and fishermen of Taiwan. In general, TBT concentrations in various oysters ranging from 0.32 to 1.51 microg/g dry wt. varied with sampling locations. The highest TBT, Cu, and Zn geometric mean (GM) concentrations in oysters of 1.51, 1180 and 1567 microg/g dry wt. were obtained from the Hsiangshan coastal area. The values of oyster consumption for fishermen were 94.1 and 250 g/day for typically and maximally exposed individuals, respectively. In particular, the highest intake (250 g/day) from fishermen was almost two times greater than that of the general population (139 g/day). The THQ (target hazard quotient) values of Hsiangshan's fishermen are 3.87 and 20.50 for TBT and Cu for maximally exposed individuals are higher than other oyster culture areas. It is interesting that those consuming oysters from Hsiangshan, Lukang, Taishi caused abnormally high THQs of TBT and other metals (100% over 1.0), and TBT was attributed to only 3-21% of the total THQs in different fishermen of Taiwan. Our results suggest that current environmental levels of TBT and other metals are associated with a significant potential threat to human health for fishermen resident in coastal areas of Taiwan.

PMID: 11874040

J Agric Food Chem 2002 Jan 16;50(2):400-5
Basis for a new procedure to eliminate diarrheic shellfish toxins from a contaminated matrix.
Gonzalez JC, Fontal OI, Vieytes MR, Vieites JM, Botana LM. Departamentos de Farmacologia, Facultad de Veterinaria, 27002 Lugo, Spain.

  The natural contamination of shellfish with diarrheic shellfish toxins (DSP) has important public health implications. To avoid the economic effects of toxic episodes on shellfish farmers and the related industry, research on artificial methods alternative to the natural detoxification of shellfish is needed. Because the usual thermal processes are not efficient, alternative technologies have to be studied. Here preliminary results are presented about the lability of the DSP toxin okadaic acid in a supercritical atmosphere of carbon dioxide with acetic acid. Most of the toxin is eliminated (up to 90%), and the biological activity against its target enzyme is also severely affected (up to 70% reduction). Detoxification of contaminated shellfish requires a partial dehydration, and the detoxification yield is lower than that obtained with free toxin. Mass spectrometry experiments suggest that acetylation of the toxin molecule is not the basis of the inactivating mechanism, but a conformational change is suggested. This is the first report of the use of supercritical fluids to inactivate toxins.

PMID: 11782215

Environ Res 2002 Jan;88(1):1-18
The Belgian PCB/dioxin incident: analysis of the food chain contamination and health risk evaluation.
Bernard A, Broeckaert F, De Poorter G, De Cock A, Hermans C, Saegerman C, Houins G. Unit of Industrial Toxicology, Catholic University of Louvain, 30.54 Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.

  The Belgian PCB incident occurred at the end of January 1999 when a mixture of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contaminated with dioxins was accidentally added to a stock of recycled fat used in the production of animal feeds. Although signs of poultry poisoning were noticed by February, 1999, the source and the extent of the contamination were discovered only in May 1999, when it appeared that more than 2500 farms could have been supplied with contaminated feeds. This resulted in a major food crisis, which rapidly extended to the whole country and could be resolved only by the implementation of a large PCB/dioxin food monitoring program. Screening for PCB contamination was based on the determination of the seven PCB markers. When PCB concentrations exceeded the tolerance levels [Note: there should be NO "tolerance level" of these toxins allowed in human food. - ljf] of 0.1 (milk), 0.2 (poultry, bovine, and pig meat), or 1 (animal feed) microg/g fat, dioxins (17 PCDD/Fs congeners) were also determined. At the end of December 1999, the database contained the results of more than 55,000 PCB and 500 dioxin analyses. The study of PCB levels and profiles in contaminated feeds delivered to poultry or pig farms confirmed that the Belgian PCB incident was due to a single source of PCB oil introduced into the food chain at the end of January 1999. This PCB oil had a congeners pattern closely matched to a mixture of Aroclor 1260/1254 in the proportion 75/25. The total amount of PCBs added to recycled fats was estimated at 50 kg (sum of the seven markers) or approximately 150 kg total PCBs, which corresponds to about 100 liters of PCB oil. This PCB mixture contained about 1g TEQ dioxins (more than 90- contributed by PCDFs) and about 2g TEQ dioxin-like PCBs. The proportions of PCB 52 and 101 congeners were fairly constant in animal feeds, excluding the possibility of secondary contamination due to fat recycling from contaminated animals. The highest concentrations of PCBs and dioxins were found in poultry and especially in the reproduction animals (hens and chicks), which showed the classical manifestations of chick edema disease. The pigs were also affected but to a lesser extent and no sign of intoxication was observed. The study of PCB/dioxin patterns and of the PCB:dioxin ratios revealed major differences in the metabolism of these compounds by farm animals. Whereas the PCBs:dioxins ratio was fairly constant in all poultry products with a mean value similar to that found in contaminated feeds (50,000), in pigs this ratio was both much higher and more variable (values up to 10,000,000), reflecting a faster elimination of dioxins than PCBs in these animals. These metabolic differences also emerged from the PCB and dioxin patterns which were altered much more in pigs than in poultry. Although the most contaminated food products (chicken meat) had PCB and dioxin levels more than 100 times above maximal recommended values, it is unlikely that this incident could have caused adverse effects in the general population of Belgium. A doubling of the PCB and dioxin burden of the young adult population would require the consumption of, respectively, 10 and 20 highly contaminated meals. In view of the very limited proportion of the poultry chain effectively contaminated during the incident (around 2%), such an extreme scenario was quite improbable for the general population except perhaps for farmers consuming their own products. But even in that case, it would have meant going back to the levels in the 1980s or attaining the body burden of subjects regularly eating contaminated seafood.

PMID: 11896663

J Food Prot 2001 Dec;64(12):2020-6
Consumer acceptance of irradiated meat and poultry in the United States.
Frenzen PD, DeBess EE, Hechemy KE, Kassenborg H, Kennedy M, McCombs K, McNees A; FoodNet Working Group. Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20036, USA.

  Food manufacturers in the United States are currently allowed to irradiate raw meat and poultry to control microbial pathogens and began marketing irradiated beef products in mid-2000. Consumers can reduce their risk of foodborne illness by substituting irradiated meat and poultry for nonirradiated products, particularly if they are more susceptible to foodborne illness. The objective of this study was to identify the individual characteristics associated with willingness to buy irradiated meat and poultry, with a focus on five risk factors for foodborne illness: unsafe food handling and consumption behavior, young and old age, and compromised immune status. A logistic regression model of willingness to buy irradiated meat or poultry was estimated using data from the 1998-1999 FoodNet Population Survey, a single-stage random-digit dialing telephone survey conducted in seven sites covering 11% of the U.S. population. Nearly one-half (49.8%) of the 10,780 adult respondents were willing to buy irradiated meat or poultry. After adjusting for other factors, consumer acceptance of these products was associated with male gender, greater education, higher household income, food irradiation knowledge, household exposure to raw meat and poultry, consumption of animal flesh, and geographic location. However, there was no difference in consumer acceptance by any of the foodborne illness risk factors. It is unclear why persons at increased risk of foodborne illness were not more willing to buy irradiated products, which could reduce the hazards they faced from handling or undercooking raw meat or poultry contaminated by microbial pathogens. [Note: perhaps they are aware of some of the problems caused by this untested tinkering with our food supply? - ljf]

PMID: 11770633

Int J Food Microbiol 2001 Dec 30;71(2-3):189-96
Development of a new protocol for the isolation and quantification of Arcobacter species from poultry products.
Houf K, Devriese LA, De Zutter L, Van Hoof J, Vandamme P. Department of Veterinary Food Inspection, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Merelbeke, Belgium.

  None of the presently available selective supplements for the specific isolation of Arcobacter species allows the growth of Arcobacter butzleri, A. cryaerophilus and A. skirrowii and at the same time fully suppresses the accompanying flora present in poultry and poultry products. Furthermore, little is known about the contamination levels of poultry with Arcobacter species. In this study, a new selective supplement comprising amphotericin B (10 mg/l), cefoperazone (16 mg/l), 5-fluorouracil (100 mg/l), novobiocin (32 mg/l) and trimethoprim (64 mg/l) was developed. With a new isolation procedure, including enrichment in Arcobacter broth with the selective supplement, incubated for 24 to 48 h at 28 degrees C under microaerobic conditions, arcobacters were isolated from 100% (n = 34) of neck skin of laying hens and from 90% (n = 71) of similar samples from broilers. Of the broiler breast meat samples examined (n = 52), 65% were found to be contaminated with these bacteria. In 64% of the samples, A. butzleri was the only Arcobacter species isolated. In 9% of the samples, A. cryaerophilus was the only species present, while 11% of the samples were positive for both species simultaneously. Using direct isolation on the selective agar medium developed in this study, incubated for 24 to 48 h under microaerobic conditions at 28 degrees C. 32 out of 45 broiler carcasses [71%] and 6 out of 25 [24%] broiler breast meat samples carried a bacterial load of arcobacters of 10(2) to 10(3) cfu/g. The prevalence of Arcobacter in Belgian poultry was found higher than the prevalence of thermophilic Campylobacter species in each of the poultry categories examined. The enrichment procedure and the direct plating method were validated for the isolation of A. skirrowii. For this species, growth performance was less than the other two Arcobacter species and it was not isolated nor detected by m-PCR from the naturally contaminated poultry samples examined. This new protocol provides a fast and reliable method for the isolation of Arcobacter species from poultry and can contribute to more comprehensive epidemiological investigations.

PMID: 11789937

J Environ Monit 2001 Dec;3(6):702-5
Elevated dentine-lead levels in deciduous teeth collected from remote first nation communities located in the western James Bay region of northern Ontario, Canada.
Tsuji LJ, Karagatzides JD, Katapatuk B, Young J, Kozlovic DR, Hannin RM, Nieboer E. Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada.

  Teeth were collected from First Nation schoolchildren inhabiting the remote western James Bay region of northern Ontario, Canada. Lead levels in dentine chips were determined by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry, for naturally exfoliated deciduous teeth. Within exfoliated teeth (one tooth supplied per person), no significant differences in lead concentrations between tooth type were found (P = 0.36). The mean lead concentration of exfoliated teeth of 9.2 microg g(-1) dry weight (N = 61) from this remote region was comparable to levels reported by others for children inhabiting urban centers or residing near smelters. Further, 24.6% (N = 15) had elevated dentine-lead levels ( > 10 microg g(-1)). Lead levels in soil, water, and air have been reported as being low and unimportant sources of exposure for people of the western James Bay area. Evidence is reviewed suggesting that lead contaminated game meat was one source of environmental lead exposure. [Note: wild game is killed with lead shot, which then contaminates the meat and its consumers. - ljf] Consumption data indicate that wildlife is still an important food source for First Nation people of the western James Bay region; 98% (46/47) of the children surveyed consumed some type of wild meat.

PMID: 11785648

Appl Environ Microbiol 2001 Dec;67(12):5431-6
Prevalence of Campylobacter spp., Escherichia coli, and Salmonella serovars in retail chicken, turkey, pork, and beef from the Greater Washington, D.C., area.
Zhao C, Ge B, De Villena J, Sudler R, Yeh E, Zhao S, White DG, Wagner D, Meng J. Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.

  A total of 825 samples of retail raw meats (chicken, turkey, pork, and beef) were examined for the presence of Escherichia coli and Salmonella serovars, and 719 of these samples were also tested for Campylobacter spp. The samples were randomly obtained from 59 stores of four supermarket chains during 107 sampling visits in the Greater Washington, D.C., area from June 1999 to July 2000. The majority (70.7%) of chicken samples (n = 184) were contaminated with Campylobacter, and a large percentage of the stores visited (91%) had Campylobacter-contaminated chickens. Approximately 14% of the 172 turkey samples yielded Campylobacter, whereas fewer pork (1.7%) and beef (0.5%) samples were positive for this pathogen. A total of 722 Campylobacter isolates were obtained from 159 meat samples; 53.6% of these isolates were Campylobacter jejuni, 41.3% were Campylobacter coli, and 5.1% were other species. Of the 212 chicken samples, 82 (38.7%) yielded E. coli, while 19.0% of the beef samples, 16.3% of the pork samples, and 11.9% of the turkey samples were positive for E. coli. However, only 25 (3.0%) of the retail meat samples tested were positive for Salmonella. Significant differences in the bacterial contamination rates were observed for the four supermarket chains. This study revealed that retail raw meats are often contaminated with food-borne pathogens; however, there are marked differences in the prevalence of such pathogens in different meats. Raw retail meats are potential vehicles for transmitting food-borne diseases, and our findings stress the need for increased implementation of hazard analysis of critical control point (HACCP) and consumer food safety education efforts.

PMID: 11722889

Toxicon 2001 Dec;39(12):1855-61
Study of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxin profile in shellfish from the Mediterranean shore of Morocco.
Taleb H, Vale P, Jaime E, Blaghen M. Institut National de Recherche Halieutique, 2 Rue de Tiznit, Casablanca, Morocco.

  Since 1992, a monitoring program for bivalve molluscs contaminated by algal toxins was established at different stations along the Mediterranean Moroccan shores. The monitored stations were tested every 2 weeks. The presence of toxicity was determined using the mouse bioassay method. Toxin profile was carried out by HPLC/FD in selected contaminated tissues. According to the outcomes of this surveillance from 1994 to 1999, reliable information on toxicity of shellfish was obtained. They indicate that PSP is a recurrent toxicity in molluscs along the Mediterranean shore of Morocco. It has been noted a difference of PSP accumulation among individual shellfish. The cockle (Achanthocardia tuberculatum) presents toxicity throughout the year, while other specimens from the same area such as clam (Callista chione), warty venus (Venus gallina) and marine beans (Donax trunculus) accumulate it seasonally from January to April, after which they depurate the toxin. Moreover, the study of toxin profiles among individual shellfish was undertaken. It was found that shellfish presented a complex profile pointing to contamination by Gymnodinium catenatum.

PMID: 11600148

Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr 2001 Nov-Dec;114(11-12):453-64
[Comparison of direct colony count methods and the MPN-method for quantitative detection of Listeria in model and field conditions] [Article in German]
Hildebrandt G, Schott W. Institut fur Lebensmittelhygiene, Freie Universitat Berlin.

  In order to compare the plate count method for quantitating Listeria, as published in the "Official Collection of Testing Methods" in section 35 LMBG (L. 00.00-22), to an MPN-method for Listeria based on the same mediums, these two detection methods for Listeria were tested in three sets of experiments and a routine sample status evaluation. A pure broth culture of L. monocytogenes, artificially with L. monocytogenes contaminated ground meat, artificially contaminated and cold stored ground meat as well as 77 ground beef samples from Berlin retail food stores were used in the four trials. The detection limit of the MPN-method is about 66% lower than the plate count method allowing detection of a clearly greater number of Listeria-positive samples from naturally contaminated ground meat. The MPN-method yielded more Listeria spp.-positive samples (rel. 43%) and more L. monocytogenes-positive samples (rel. 21%) versus the colony count method based on the results from the field trial using ground beef samples from retail food stores in Berlin. Nevertheless the standardized colony count method is preferred over the MPN-method for routine use because of its slightly higher productivity and much smaller variation in the results. However, the MPN-method is preferable for epidemiological studies because of the significance of the lower detection level. The random sampling evaluation of ground beef from retail stores indicated that 39% of the samples were Listeria spp.-positive and 31% were L. monocytogenes-positive when using the colony count method. A total of 56% of the meat samples were found to be Listeria spp.-positive and 38% L. monocytogenes-positive when the MPN-method was used. Population levels ranged from 10 to 580 cfu/g (Listeria spp.-positive samples) and from 10 to 270 cfu/g (L. monocytogenes-positive samples) for the colony count method. The MPN-method yielded population levels of 3.6 to 930 MPN/g for Listeria spp.-positive samples and 3.6 to 150 MPN/g for L. monocytogenes-positive samples. L. monocytogenes strains isolated using the colony count method belonged to the following serovars: 1/2a (46%), 1/2b (13%), 1/2c (33%), 3b (4%) and 4c (4%). A similar serovar isolation pattern was found for L. monocytogenes-positive MPN-tubes. The most common serotype was 1/2a (43%), followed by 1/2c (32%) and 1/2b (14%). The serotypes 3c, 4b and 4c were all isolated 4% of the time.

PMID: 11766274

Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr 2001 Nov;108(11):465-7
Isolation and identification of motile Aeromonas species from chicken.
Sarimehmetoglu B, Kuplulu O. Department of Food Hygiene and Technology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Ankara University, Ankara.

  In this study a total of 140 broiler carcasses and carcass parts purchased at different supermarkets in Ankara including 50 whole carcass, 30 wing, 30 leg and 30 breast samples were analysed for the presence of motile Aeromonas species. According to analysis findings, motile Aeromonas spp. were isolated from 116 (82.9%) of total 140 samples. The distribution of the isolates were 94%, 86.6%, 80%, 63.3% in broiler carcass, wing, leg and breast samples, respectively. Aeromonas hydrophila was isolated the most prevalent species with 56% the range followed by Aeromonas sobria with 29.3% and Aeromonas caviae with 14.7% from all of the carcass and carcass part samples, respectively. Consequently, it was supposed that, examined broiler carcass and carcass parts have been contaminated to important level with motile Aeromonas species and it has been risk for public health.

PMID: 11765602

Acta Vet Scand Suppl 2001;95:85-7
May organically farmed animals pose a risk for Campylobacter infections in humans?
Engvall A., National Veterinary Institute, Department of Disease Control and Biosecurity, S-551 89 Uppsala.

  Organic farming of meat producing poultry like broilers, means that the animals should be kept outdoors as much as possible. This pose a risk that they get infected with Campylobacter. At slaughter, carcasses may be contaminated with campylobacter. If cross contamination occurs in the kitchen or if the meat is undercooked people may ingest the bacteria and suffer from enteritis. It seems possible that close to 100 percent of organically farmed flocks may be infected with campylobacter while under Swedish conditions only 10 percent of conventionally reared flocks are infected.

PMID: 11995396

Rev Gastroenterol Disord 2001;1(4):177-86
Emerging foodborne pathogens: keeping your patients and your families safe.
Oldfield EC 3rd. Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA, USA.

  Changes in food production and societal pressures have led to a continuing increase in the incidence of foodborne illness. Many pathogens are associated with specific foods, e.g., E. coli O157:H7 with hamburgers or Salmonella with eggs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently approved irradiation for sterilization of meat, but public acceptance of irradiated food is low. Because contaminated foods are seldom detected before they reach store shelves, care in food preparation by professional and home cooks is crucial.

PMID: 12120184

J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol 2001 Sep-Oct;11(5):381-8
The association between local fish consumption and DDE, mirex, and HCB concentrations in the breast milk of Mohawk women at Akwesasne.
Fitzgerald EF, Hwang SA, Deres DA, Bush B, Cook K, Worswick P. Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology, New York State Department of Health, Troy, New York 12180, USA.

  A study was conducted to assess the extent to which the consumption of local fish contaminated with p,p'-dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE), mirex, and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) has impacted the concentrations of these compounds in the milk of nursing Mohawk women residing along the St. Lawrence River. From 1986 to 1992, 97 Mohawk women were interviewed, and each donated a one-time sample of at least 50 ml of breast milk. The comparison population consisted of 154 Caucasians from other rural areas in New York State. After adjustment for potential confounders, Mohawk mothers who gave birth from 1986 to 1990 had significantly higher geometric mean p,p'-DDE milk concentrations than did the control group, but no significant differences were observed from 1991 to 1992. In contrast, mirex was significantly elevated among the Mohawks throughout the study period, while HCB showed no difference at any point. Mohawk women with the greatest estimated cumulative lifetime exposure to p,p'-DDE from local fish consumption had a significantly higher geometric mean milk level of that compound relative to control women, but no differences in mirex or HCB concentrations in breast milk by local fish consumption were found. The reduction in breast milk p,p'-DDE concentrations among the Mohawk women from 1986 to 1990 parallels a corresponding decrease in local fish consumption, and may be the result of the advisories that have been issued over the past decade recommending against the consumption of local fish by pregnant and nursing Mohawk women. Elevations in the concentrations of mirex in the breast milk of the Mohawks are consistent with the fact that it is a common contaminant in the region and throughout the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Basin.

PMID: 11687911

Sci Total Environ 2001 Oct 20;278(1-3):171-81
Effect of origin of radiocaesium on the transfer from fallout to reindeer meat.
Ahman B, Wright SM, Howard BJ. Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.

  Data on radiocaesium contamination of reindeer from five regions in Sweden have been used, together with interpolated radiocaesium deposition data, to quantify spatial variation in transfer to reindeer meat and to consider how it changes with time in different areas. Since the regions were contaminated to different extents by global and Chernobyl fallout, it was also possible to determine the influence of the origin or age of radiocaesium fallout on the transfer to reindeer meat. The regions differed significantly with regard to transfer of radiocaesium to reindeer meat. In two regions in the North of Sweden, where there was less Chernobyl 137Cs, aggregated transfer coefficients (Tag), estimated for the main slaughter period in the first year after the Chernobyl fallout, were low (0.15 and 0.36 m2 kg(-1) in January-April). Average Tag values calculated for the winter period (January-April) in two regions in the middle of Sweden, where deposition from Chernobyl dominated (83 and 94%, respectively, of the total deposition), were 0.78 and 0.84 m2 kg(-1), respectively with a maximum Tag for an individual reindeer of 1.87 m2 kg(-1). There was a threefold increase in Tag values from early autumn to late winter reflecting the change in the reindeer diet from less contaminated vascular plants to more contaminated lichens. The decline of 137Cs in reindeer meat from 1986 to 2000 differed between regions with longer effective half-lives (Tef) in the northerly regions (11.0 and 7.1 years, respectively) with less Chernobyl fallout, and shorter half-lives in the other three regions (3.5-3.8 years). This observation, together with a lack of a decline in early autumn in the region with least Chernobyl fallout, supports the theory of a gradual, but reversible, fixation of radiocaesium in the soil over the mid-long term. The results suggest that both the extent of transfer of 137Cs to reindeer meat, and its subsequent decline with time, are affected by the differing origins of radiocaesium and that previous contamination may substantially influence radiocaesium transfer in the event of a further accident.

PMID: 11669265

Int J Food Microbiol 2001 Oct 22;70(1-2):175-8
Occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes in food in Chile.
Cordano AM, Rocourt J. Seccion Microbiologia de Alimentos, Instituto de Salud Publica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

  Out of 2145 food samples analysed 77 were found contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes in Santiago, Chile. Samples were: 603 ice-cream (3.5% contaminated), 256 soft cheese (0.8%), 155 hard cheese (0%), 229 baby milk bottles (0%), 634 processed meat products (3.6%) and 268 crustaceous shellfish (11.6%). Three different isolation media were used: for 318 samples, Modified McBride Agar (MMA), Lithium chloride Phenylethanol Moxalactam agar, and Polymyxin Acriflavine Lithium chloride Ceftazidime Aesculin Mannitol agar; for 1827 samples MMA was replaced by Listeria Selective Agar Oxford Formulation. Isolates were classified as follow: serovar 1/2a (25 isolates), serovar 4b (20), serovar 1/2b (19), serovar 3b (7), serovar 1/2c (2), untypable (4). A high variety of phagovars was detected although 52% of strains was untypable.

PMID: 11759755

N Engl J Med
Volume 345:1161-1166 October 18, 2001 Number 16
Transient Intestinal Carriage after Ingestion of Antibiotic-Resistant Enterococcus faecium from Chicken and Pork
Thomas Lund Sřrensen, M.D., Marianne Blom, M.Sc., Dominique L. Monnet, Ph.D., Niels Frimodt-Mřller, M.D., D.M.Sc., Rikke Lykke Poulsen, Ph.D., and Frank Espersen, M.D., D.M.Sc.

  Background Antibiotic-resistant enterococci are often present in retail meats, but it is unclear whether the ingestion of these contaminants leads to sustained intestinal carriage.
  Methods We conducted a randomized, double-blind study in 18 healthy volunteers. Six ingested a mixture of 107 colony-forming units (CFU) of two glycopeptide-resistant strains of Enterococcus faecium obtained from chicken purchased at a grocery store, six ingested 107 CFU of a streptogramin-resistant strain of E. faecium obtained from a pig at slaughter, and six ingested 107 CFU of a glycopeptide-susceptible and streptogramin-susceptible strain of E. faecium from chicken purchased at a grocery store. Suspensions of enterococci were prepared in 250 ml of whole milk and were well within the amounts deemed acceptable by Danish food regulations. Stool samples were collected before exposure, daily for 1 week after ingestion, and at 14 and 35 days. Resistant enterococci in stools were identified by selective culture techniques; further molecular characterization of the organisms was also conducted.
  Results At the outset, none of the subjects were colonized with glycopeptide-resistant or streptogramin-resistant E. faecium. After ingestion of the study strains, these same strains were isolated from the stools of all subjects, in various concentrations. The test strain was isolated in stool from 8 of 12 subjects on day 6, and from 1 of 12 on day 14. All stool samples were negative at 35 days.
  Conclusions The ingestion of resistant E. faecium of animal origin leads to detectable concentrations of the resistant strain in stools for up to 14 days after ingestion. The organisms survive gastric passage and multiply.

Source Information From the Department of Microbiological Research and Development, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark. Address reprint requests to Dr. Frimodt-Mřller at Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance, Department of Microbiological Research and Development, Statens Serum Institut, 5 Artillerivej, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark, or at

J Infect Dis 2001 Sep 15;184(6):799-802
Cholera in the United States, 1995-2000: trends at the end of the twentieth century.
Steinberg EB, Greene KD, Bopp CA, Cameron DN, Wells JG, Mintz ED. Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.

  To evaluate recent trends in cholera in the United States, surveillance data from all cases of laboratory-confirmed toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1 and O139 infection reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 1995 and 2000 were reviewed. Sixty-one cases of cholera, all caused by V. cholerae O1, were reported. There was 1 death, and 35 (57%) of the patients were hospitalized. Thirty-seven (61%) infections were acquired outside the United States; 14 (23%) were acquired through undercooked seafood consumed in the United States, 2 (3%) were acquired through sliced cantaloupe contaminated by an asymptomatically infected food handler, and no source was identified for 8 (13%) infections. The proportion of travel-associated infections resistant to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, sulfisoxazole, streptomycin, and furazolidone increased from 7 (8%) of 88 in 1990-1994 to 11 (31%) of 35 in 1995-2000. Foreign travel and undercooked seafood continue to account for most US cholera cases. Antimicrobial resistance has increased among V. cholerae O1 strains isolated from ill travelers.

PMID: 11517445

Int J Food Microbiol 2001 Aug 15;68(1-2):105-13
Prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus and staphylococcal enterotoxins in raw pork and uncooked smoked ham--a comparison of classical culturing detection and RFLP-PCR.
Atanassova V, Meindl A, Ring C. Department of Food Hygiene and Microbiology, Centre for Food Science, School of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Hannover, Germany. In many countries

  Staphylococcus aureus is considered to be the second or third most common pathogen causing outbreaks of food poisoning, only outnumbered by Salmonella spp. and in competition with Clostridium perfringens. Often the consumption of ham or meat containing staphylococcal enterotoxins (SE) is identified as cause of the illness. Thus, to gain an insight into the prevalence of S. aureus and its emetic enterotoxins in raw pork and uncooked smoked ham and to investigate how the prevalence of the pathogen is influenced during the fabrication process, a total of 135 samples of raw pork, salted meat and ready-for-sale uncooked smoked ham were examined for the prevalence of S. aureus and staphylococcal enterotoxins A to D (SEA-SED). To this means classical cultural methods were employed as well as molecular biological techniques (PCR) and the results were compared. In 25.9% of all samples S. aureus was detected by culture whereas 51.1% of the samples showed a positive result when PCR was used for the detection of the pathogen. Fresh meat was contaminated most often. By PCR, 62.2% were identified as being S. aureus positive compared to 57.7% positive samples using the cultural technique. The detection rate during the fabrication process declined significantly. The pathogen was cultivated from 8.9% of the salted meat samples. Here, 55.6% of the samples reacted positively in the PCR, and finally, in approximately a third of the ready-for-sale smoked hams, S. aureus genes were found. From 11.1% of these samples, the pathogen could be isolated by culture. From these results, we conclude that the PCR used in this study is more sensitive than the classical cultural method. By PCR, one or more staphylococcal enterotoxin genes were found in 24 of the 135 examined samples. This means that 34.8% of the staphylococcal strains identified using the PCR technique were enterotoxigenic. Using the SET-RPLA, a percentage of 28.6% enterotoxigenic isolates was ascertained. No staphylococcal enterotoxin formation was detected by the SET-RPLA in ready-for-sale ham, although SE-genes were found by PCR. The detection of SE-genes by PCR is faster and easier to perform than the SET-RPLA.

PMID: 11545209

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 2001 Jul 28;145(30):1444-7
['Variant of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease and blood transfusion'; report of the Dutch Health Council] [Article in Dutch]
van Aken WG.

  The new variant form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), which has been diagnosed in about 100 patients--mostly in the United Kingdom (UK)--is considered to be associated with the consumption of beef contaminated with the agent bovine spongi-form encephalopathy (BSE). Although no cases of vCJD have been reported until now in the Netherlands, large quantities of beef have been imported from the UK in previous years; furthermore about 17 cattle with BSE have been detected in the Netherlands. Concern about the possible transmission of vCJD via blood and blood-products has led to a number of countries taking precautionary measures. Following questions raised by the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, the Health Council of the Netherlands issued a report to address the need for certain precautionary measures such as the leukodepletion of blood and the exclusion of donors at risk for vCJD. The Health Council recommends the routine leukodepletion of cellular blood components. The exclusion of donors who have resided in the UK for six or more months during the period 1980-1996, was considered to be insufficient to contribute to risk reduction. The Minister has recently decided to follow these two recommendations. However, she is of the opinion that the Health Council's recommendation to exclude all donors who have previously been transfused with cellular blood components is unnecessary. A common European position regarding such precautionary measures is deemed to be necessary. This would allow the exchange of blood components between countries and would also prevent donors, patients and the public at large from being confused or uncertain about the safety of blood components.

PMID: 11503311

Commun Dis Public Health 2001 Jun;4(2):117-23
General outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease associated with fish and shellfish, England and Wales, 1992-1999.
Gillespie IA, Adak GK, O'Brien SJ, Brett MM, Bolton FJ. Gastrointestinal Diseases Division, PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ.

  Between 1992 and 1999 1425 foodborne general outbreaks of Infectious Intestinal Disease (IID) were reported to the PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre. Of these, 148 (10%) were associated with the consumption of fish and shellfish. Three main aetiologies were identified. Outbreaks associated with fish (47%) occurred more frequently in the summer months, and were linked with Scombrotoxic fish poisoning caused by the consumption of tuna that was improperly stored. Outbreaks associated with molluscs (36%) were associated with the consumption of oysters contaminated with viral pathogens, particularly in February. Outbreaks associated with the consumption of crustaceans (11%) often involved eating prawns that contained either salmonellas or viral pathogens. The maintenance of microbial quality from prior to capture/harvesting until the moment of consumption, based on a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point style approach, is essential if gastrointestinal illness associated with such produce is to be avoided.

PMID: 11524999

Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health 2001 Jun;32(2):402-7
Prevalence of Listeria spp and Listeria monocytogenes in meat and fermented fish in Malaysia.
Hassan Z, Purwati E, Radu S, Rahim RA, Rusul G. Department of Food Science, Faculty of Food Science and Biotechnology, University Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor.

  Fermented fish and meat samples were purchased from supermarket and wet market for microbiological analysis of Listeria species and Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Listeria species were isolated from 17 (73.9%) of 23 samples of imported frozen beef, 10 (43.5%) of the 23 samples of local beef and 14 (56%) of the 25 samples of fermented fish from wet market. Listeria monocytogenes occurred in 15 (75%) of the frozen beef samples, 6 (30.4%) of the 23 samples of local meat and 3 (12%) of the 25 samples from fermented fish. Listeria species was not isolated from any of the 23 samples of imported frozen beef from supermarket and from the 5 samples of buffalo meat examined. This highlights the possibility of Listeria spp or L. monocytogenes to persist in meat and fermented fish in wet market and raises the problem of illness due to the handling and consumption of Listeria-contaminated meat or fermented fish are likely as evidence by the high contamination rates of samples sold at the wet market.

PMID: 11556596

Lett Appl Microbiol 2001 Jun;32(6):375-8
Transmission of Yersinia enterocolitica 4/O:3 to pets via contaminated pork.
Fredriksson-Ahomaa M, Korte T, Korkeala H. Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland.

  AIMS: This study was conducted to investigate sources of Yersinia enterocolitica 4/O:3 infections in dogs and cats.
  METHODS AND RESULTS: Transmission of Y. enterocolitica 4/O:3 to pets via contaminated pork was studied using PFGE with NotI, ApaI and XhoI enzymes. A total of 132 isolates, of which 16 were from cat and dog faeces and 116 from raw pork samples, were recovered in Finland during 1998-99. Cat 1, whose diet consisted mostly of raw pig hearts and kidneys, excreted Y. enterocolitica 4/O:3 of genotype G4. This predominant genotype was also found in isolates recovered from the pig heart, liver, kidney, tongue and ear, and minced pork samples. Dog 2, which was fed raw minced pork, excreted Y. enterocolitica of genotype G13. This genotype was also identified in isolates recovered from the pig heart, kidney and tongue, and minced pork samples.
  CONCLUSION: These results show that raw pork can be an important source of Yersinia enterocolitica 4/O:3 infections in dogs and cats.
  Significance and Impact of the Study: Raw pork should not be given to pets.

PMID: 11412346

Salud Publica Mex 2001 May-Jun;43(3):211-6
[An outbreak of Salmonella gastroenteritis among hospital workers] [Article in Spanish]
Chavez-de la Pena ME, Higuera-Iglesias AL, Huertas-Jimenez MA, Baez-Martinez R, Morales-de Leon J, Arteaga-Cabello F, Rangel-Frausto MS, Ponce de Leon-Rosales S. Division de Epidemiologia Hospitalaria y Control de Calidad de la Atencion Medica, Instituto Nacional de la Nutricion Salvador Zubiran (INNSZ), Mexico.

  OBJECTIVE: To describe and identify the causes of an outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis gastroenteritis that took place in June 1998, among tertiary care hospital workers, in Mexico City.
  MATERIAL AND METHODS: Cases were hospital workers who developed diarrhea or fever associated with gastrointestinal symptoms, after a meal at the hospital's dining room on June eight; controls were asymptomatic employees who also ate at the hospital's dining room on the same day. A food questionnaire was applied, and stool samples were obtained from all study subjects, including kitchen personnel. Blood cultures were practiced for febrile patients. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) and the chi-squared were used for statistical analysis. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.
  RESULTS: One-hundred-fifty-five workers developed symptoms, but only 129 (83.2%) answered the questionnaire; 150 controls were also studied. The most common symptoms were diarrhea (85%), abdominal pain (84%), cephalea (81.4%), nausea (78.3%), and chills (74.4%). Eight blood cultures were negative; 59 stool cultures (46%) from cases and six (4%) from controls, were positive for Salmonella enteritidis. Egg-covered meat was the suspected source of infection (OR 19.39, 95% CI 9.09-41.4); some other foodstuffs like fruit dessert and yogurt, were significantly more frequent in cases than in controls. Food cultures were all negative.
  CONCLUSION: This outbreak was probably caused by Salmonella-contaminated foodstuffs (egg-covered meat with potatoes) due to deficient cooking. This report shows the importance of food-quality programs for hospital meals.

PMID: 11452697

Int J Food Microbiol 2001 May 21;66(1-2):13-20
Zero-tolerance for faecal contamination of carcasses as a tool in the control of O157 VTEC infections.
Heuvelink AE, Roessink GL, Bosboom K, de Boer E. Inspectorate for Health Protection, Zutphen, Netherlands.

  The Dutch government, the meat producers organisation and the meat industry have recognised O157 VTEC as an important public health hazard, and agreed on the necessity to improve the hygiene in Dutch cattle- and calf-slaughtering establishments. This paper reports activities within a national action programme to achieve this objective, "Zero-tolerance for faecal contamination during slaughter of cattle and calves". [Well - Duh!! - ljf] The study included inspection of hygienic performances in slaughterhouses, and visual and microbiological (aerobic plate counts, Enterobacteriaceae counts and O157 VTEC presence/absence on visually clean cattle and calf carcasses) assessment of carcass cleanliness. Initial studies concluded that the hygienic performances in the Dutch cattle and calf slaughterhouses should be immediately improved. In 52% of the slaughterhouses inspected, carcasses were observed to be contaminated with hide, hair or faeces. Around 45% of the slaughterhouses had constructural deficiencies likely to lead to structural cross-contamination of carcasses, by direct carcass-carcass contact, or by indirect contacts with floors, walls or steps. In 39% of the slaughterhouses, cleaning and disinfection procedures were inadequate. Visual inspection of chilled carcasses found that in 11 of the 27 [41%] slaughterhouses visited, more than 10% of the carcasses were visibly contaminated. In 6 of the 27 [22%] slaughterhouses visited, more than 50% of the carcasses inspected were visibly [visibly!!! - ljf] contaminated. Microbiological analysis of visually clean carcasses noted contamination levels similar to those reported from other countries. O157 VTEC were not isolated during this study. Circulation of these findings lead to increased efforts by all parties to fulfil the requirements of the statutory "Zero-tolerance" programme. A follow-up study noted a significant decrease in the proportions of faecally contaminated carcasses, i.e., 7% of chilled carcasses were visibly contaminated with faeces, as opposed to 22% contamination during the initial study. The follow-up study also noted a greater awareness of the importance of good hygienic practices among slaughterhouse personnel and government meat inspectors.

PMID: 11407542

J Antimicrob Chemother 2001 Mar;47(3):315-21
Antimicrobial resistance in salmonellae from humans, food and animals in Spain in 1998.
Cruchaga S, Echeita A, Aladuena A, Garcia-Pena J, Frias N, Usera MA. Laboratorio Nacional de Referencia de Salmonella y Shigella, Centro Nacional de Microbiologia, Virologia e Inmunologia Sanitarias, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Carretera de Majadahonda a Pozuelo, s/n, 28220 Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain.

  We studied 1710 Salmonella: spp. isolates from human (1051), food (421) and animal (238) sources. They were tested by the disc diffusion method for susceptibility to 12 different antimicrobial agents. The incidence of resistance and multiple resistance (MR) among the salmonella strains of different origins, the relationship between their most frequent serotypes and phage types (PTs) and their antimicrobial resistance patterns were determined. In general, the incidence of resistance and MR was significantly higher in animal isolates than in human and food isolates (P < 0.05). Resistance to each individual drug among the human isolates and food isolates was very similar, with resistance to ampicillin, tetracycline, streptomycin and sulphonamides most frequently observed. MR has remained uncommon in Salmonella enteritidis. Nevertheless, 90% of PT6A of the human isolates and 100% of the food isolates were ampicillin resistant and 80 and 60%, respectively, of the PT1 isolates were nalidixic acid resistant. Salmonella typhimurium was the most multiresistant serotype in the three sample populations and ten different patterns of MR were seen. Almost 100% of the Salmonella hadar isolates, from human and food sources, were resistant. We recommend restriction of the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine in order to reduce the selection and spread of multiresistant strains.

PMID: 11222564

N Engl J Med 2001 Oct 18;345(16):1147-54
Comment in: N Engl J Med. 2001 Oct 18;345(16):1202-3. UI: 21468848
The isolation of antibiotic-resistant salmonella from retail ground meats.
White DG, Zhao S, Sudler R, Ayers S, Friedman S, Chen S, McDermott PF, McDermott S, Wagner DD, Meng J. Division of Animal and Food Microbiology Office of Research, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration, Laurel, MD, USA.

  BACKGROUND: Salmonella is a leading cause of foodborne illness. The emergence of antimicrobial-resistant salmonella is associated with the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food; resistant bacteria can be transmitted to humans through foods, particularly those of animal origin. We identified and characterized strains of salmonella isolated from ground meats purchased in the Washington, D.C., area.
  METHODS: Salmonella was isolated from samples of ground chicken, beef, turkey, and pork purchased at three supermarkets. The isolates were characterized by serotyping, antimicrobial-susceptibility testing, phage typing, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing were used to identify resistance integrons and extended spectrum beta-lactamase genes.
  RESULTS: Of 200 meat samples, 41 (20 percent) contained salmonella, with a total of 13 serotypes. Eighty-four percent of the isolates were resistant to at least one antibiotic, and 53 percent were resistant to at least three antibiotics. Sixteen percent of the isolates were resistant to ceftriaxone, the drug of choice for treating salmonellosis in children. Bacteriophage typing identified four isolates of Salmonella enterica serotype typhimurium definitive type 104 (DT104), one of DT104b, and two of DT208. Five isolates of S. enterica serotype agona had resistance to 9 antibiotics, and the two isolates of serotype typhimurium DT208 were resistant to 12 antibiotics. Electrophoretic patterns of DNA that were indistinguishable from one another were repeatedly found in isolates from different meat samples and different stores. Eighteen isolates, representing four serotypes, had integrons with genes conferring resistance to aminoglycosides, sulfonamides, trimethoprim, and beta-lactams.
  CONCLUSIONS: Resistant strains of salmonella are common in retail ground meats. These findings provide support for the adoption of guidelines for the prudent use of antibiotics in food animals and for a reduction in the number of pathogens present on farms and in slaughterhouses. National surveillance for antimicrobial-resistant salmonella should be extended to include retail meats.

PMID: 11642230

N Engl J Med
Volume 345:1147-1154 October 18, 2001 Number 16
The Isolation of Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella from Retail Ground Meats
David G. White, Ph.D., Shaohua Zhao, D.V.M., Ph.D., Robert Sudler, M.S., Sherry Ayers, Sharon Friedman, B.A., Sheng Chen, D.V.M., Patrick F. McDermott, Ph.D., Shawn McDermott, B.S., David D. Wagner, Ph.D., and Jianghong Meng, D.V.M., Ph.D.

  Background Salmonella is a leading cause of food-borne illness. The emergence of antimicrobial-resistant salmonella is associated with the use of antibiotics in animals raised for food; resistant bacteria can be transmitted to humans through foods, particularly those of animal origin. We identified and characterized strains of salmonella isolated from ground meats purchased in the Washington, D.C., area.
  Methods Salmonella was isolated from samples of ground chicken, beef, turkey, and pork purchased at three supermarkets. The isolates were characterized by serotyping, antimicrobial-susceptibility testing, phage typing, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing were used to identify resistance integrons and extended spectrum -lactamase genes.
   Results Of 200 meat samples, 41 (20 percent) contained salmonella, with a total of 13 serotypes. Eighty-four percent of the isolates were resistant to at least one antibiotic, and 53 percent were resistant to at least three antibiotics. Sixteen percent of the isolates were resistant to ceftriaxone, the drug of choice for treating salmonellosis in children. Bacteriophage typing identified four isolates of Salmonella enterica serotype typhimurium definitive type 104 (DT104), one of DT104b, and two of DT208. Five isolates of S. enterica serotype agona had resistance to 9 antibiotics, and the two isolates of serotype typhimurium DT208 were resistant to 12 antibiotics. Electrophoretic patterns of DNA that were indistinguishable from one another were repeatedly found in isolates from different meat samples and different stores. Eighteen isolates, representing four serotypes, had integrons with genes conferring resistance to aminoglycosides, sulfonamides, trimethoprim, and -lactams.
  Conclusions Resistant strains of salmonella are common in retail ground meats. These findings provide support for the adoption of guidelines for the prudent use of antibiotics in food animals and for a reduction in the number of pathogens present on farms and in slaughterhouses. National surveillance for antimicrobial-resistant salmonella should be extended to include retail meats.
Source Information: From the Division of Animal and Food Microbiology Office of Research, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration, Laurel, Md. (D.G.W., S.Z., S.A., S.F., P.F.M., S.M., D.D.W.); and the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, College Park (R.S., S.C., J.M.). Address reprint requests to Dr. Meng at the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, or at

N Engl J Med
Volume 345:1155-1160 October 18, 2001 Number 16
Quinupristin-Dalfopristin–Resistant Enterococcus faecium on Chicken and in Human Stool Specimens
L. Clifford McDonald, M.D., Shannon Rossiter, M.P.H., Constance Mackinson, M.T., Yong Yu Wang, M.D., M.P.H., Susan Johnson, M.T., Maureen Sullivan, M.P.H., Robert Sokolow, M.B.A., Emilio DeBess, D.V.M., M.P.V.M., Laura Gilbert, M.P.H., James A. Benson, M.T., Bertha Hill, and Frederick J. Angulo, D.V.M., Ph.D.

  Background The combination of the streptogramins quinupristin and dalfopristin was approved in the United States in late 1999 for the treatment of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium infections. Since 1974, another streptogramin, virginiamycin, has been used at subtherapeutic concentrations to promote the growth of farm animals, including chickens.
  Methods To determine the frequency of quinupristin-dalfopristin–resistant E. faecium, we used selective medium to culture samples from chickens purchased in supermarkets in Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon and stool samples from outpatients.
  Results Between July 1998 and June 1999, samples from 407 chickens from 26 stores in four states were cultured, as were 334 stool samples from outpatients. Quinupristin-dalfopristin–resistant E. faecium was isolated from 237 [58%] chicken carcasses and 3 [0.9%] stool specimens. The resistant isolates from stool had low-level resistance (minimal inhibitory concentration [MIC], 4 µg per milliliter; resistance was defined as a MIC of at least 4 µg per milliliter). The resistant isolates from chickens in general had higher levels of resistance (MICs ranging from 4 to 32 µg per milliliter; MIC required to inhibit 50 percent of isolates, 8 µg per milliliter).

  Conclusions Quinupristin-dalfopristin – resistant E. faecium contaminates a large proportion of chickens sold in U.S. supermarkets. However, the low prevalence and low level of resistance of these strains in human stool specimens suggest that the use of virginiamycin in animals has not yet had a substantial influence. Foodborne dissemination of resistance may increase, however, as the clinical use of quinupristin-dalfopristin increases. Source Information From the Hospital Infections Program (L.C.M., B.H.) and the Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch (S.R., F.J.A.), Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; the University of Maryland, Baltimore (C.M., Y.Y.W.); the Minnesota Department of Health, Minneapolis (S.J., M.S.); the Oregon Health Division, Portland (R.S., E.D.); and Georgia Division of Public Health, Atlanta (L.G., J.A.B.). Address reprint requests to Dr. Angulo at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd., MS A38, Atlanta, GA 30333, or at

J AOAC Int 2001 Mar-Apr;84(2):350-3
Survey of residual tetracyclines in kidneys of diseased animals in Aichi Prefecture, Japan (1985-1997).
Oka H, Ito Y, Ikai Y, Matsumoto H, Kato K, Yamamoto I, Shimizu M, Kawamura N, Miyazaki Y, Nojiri T, Okumura M, Ohmi S, Sato T, Mori G. Aichi Prefectural Institute of Public Health, Nagoya, Japan.

  A survey was conducted to determine the incidence of tetracycline antibiotic (TCAs) residues in the kidneys of slaughtered animals that did not pass inspection for human consumption by the Japanese Food Sanitation Law and the Meat Inspection Law at the slaughterhouses in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, from April 1985 to March 1998. The kidneys were analyzed by the AOAC Official Method 995.09. Among 424 animals (147 cattle and 277 pigs), 131 (30.9%) were contaminated with TCAs, including 69 (16.3%) with chlortetracycline (CTC), 61 (14.4%) with oxytetracycline (OTC), 3 (0.7%) with tetracycline (TC), and 1 (0.2%) with doxycycline (DC). One sample (cattle kidney) was contaminated with both OTC and DC. The frequencies of OTC and TC residues were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in cattle than in pigs, whereas, the frequency of CTC was significantly higher (p < 0.01) in pigs. Pig kidney samples collected in 1991-1997 had significantly higher incidences of TCAs and CTC (p < 0.01) residues than those in 1985-1986.

PMID: 11324597

Int J Food Microbiol 2001 Mar 20;64(3):387-93
Evaluation of motility enrichment on modified semi-solid Rappaport-Vassiladis medium (MSRV) for the detection of Salmonella in foods.
Worcman-Barnink D, Destro MT, Fernandes SA, Landgraf M. Departamento de Alimentos e Nutricao Experimental, Faculdade de Ciencias Farmaceuticas, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

  The detection and identification of Salmonella spp. is still troublesome and time consuming to the food industry. Employing the modified semi-solid Rappaport-Vassiliadis medium (MSRV), presumptive results for Salmonella can be obtained in 48 h, representing an interesting alternative to the standard methods. The specificity and sensitivity of the MSRV method were evaluated in this research. The efficiency of this method was also compared with the methodology recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) using bismuth sulfite agar, XLT4 agar and Rambach agar. A total of 146 food samples comprised of 41 chicken thighs, 35 Brazilian fresh pork sausages, 35 samples of cocoa powder and/or granulated cocoa and 35 samples of grated fresh coconut, were examined. Overall, the rapid method (direct + indirect) and the standard culture detected 96.1% and 84.6% of the positive samples, respectively. No Salmonella was detected in the coconut or cocoa samples by any of the methods. Eighteen (43.9%) chicken thigh samples were contaminated with the microorganism. The rapid method (direct + indirect) and the standard culture detected 94.4% and 88.9% of these, respectively. Salmonella was detected in eight (22.8%) fresh pork sausage samples. The MSRV method detected Salmonella in all eight samples, while the standard gave positive results in six (75%). When compared with the standard method, the indirect method showed 86.4% sensitivity and 96.8% specificity, while the direct MSRV showed a sensitivity of 71.4% and specificity of 99.2%. Combined, both MSRV methods showed 95.5% sensitivity and 96.8% specificity. The MSRV medium also reduces the time necessary for the isolation of Salmonella from foods.

PMID: 11294362

J Food Prot 2001 Feb;64(2):184-8
Presence and level of Campylobacter, coliforms, Escherichia coli, and total aerobic bacteria recovered from broiler parts with and without skin.
Berrang ME, Ladely SR, Buhr RJ. Poultry Processing and Meat Quality, US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center, Athens, Georgia 30604-5677, USA.

  This study was undertaken to determine if broiler chicken parts without skin are less contaminated with Campylobacter than those with skin. Samples were taken in a commercial plant from defeathered carcasses before evisceration. Bacterial counts from rinse of aseptically removed meat samples were lower than those from stomached skin samples. No Campylobacter were recovered from meat collected from the breasts or thighs, and only 2 of 10 [20%] drumstick meat samples had detectable levels of Campylobacter. However, 9 of 10 [90%] breast skin, 10 of 10 [100%] thigh skin, and 8 of 10 [80%] drumstick skin samples were positive for Campylobacter, with between 2 and 3 log10 CFU/g of Campylobacter. Breasts, thighs, and drumsticks were removed from broiler carcasses following evisceration before entering the chill tank. There was a significant difference (50 to 90%) in the levels of Campylobacter on breasts, thighs, and drumsticks with and without skin. Similar trends were noted for coliform, Escherichia coli, and total aerobic bacterial counts from samples collected in the plant. Broiler part samples were also collected at retail outlets. These samples were either skin on and skinned in the laboratory or skin off at purchase. Aseptic removal of skin from broiler breasts, thighs, and drumsticks did not cause change in Campylobacter, coliform, E. coli, or total aerobic counts recovered from the skinned part. Likewise, parts purchased without skin did not have different bacterial counts than paired parts purchased with the skin on. Consumers should not expect to significantly lower the number of bacteria present on a chicken breast, thigh, or drumstick by removing the skin.

PMID: 11271765

Environ Health Perspect 2001 Feb;109(2):101-3
Surprising findings following a Belgian food contamination with polychlorobiphenyls and dioxins.
Schepens PJ, Covaci A, Jorens PG, Hens L, Scharpe S, van Larebeke N. Toxicological Center and Department of Medicine and Medical Biochemistry, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium.

  We found that 12.1% of Belgian export meat samples from chicken or pork, unrelated to the PCB/dioxin crisis from 1999, contained more than 50 ng polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)/g fat and that 6.5% of samples contain more than 20 ng/g fat for the sum of 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane (DDT) and its metabolites. Part of this background contamination stems from imported animal feed ingredients (fish flour and grains), sometimes contaminated by recent use of DDT, as can be deduced from the ratio between DDT and its main metabolite, 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (DDE). However, after comparing PCB concentrations in fish flour and grains with those found in meat, we suggest that the high concentrations stem from recycled fat. This is the first paper describing background concentrations of PCBs in animal meat from Belgium.

PMID: 11266317

Biomed Sci Instrum 2001;37:191-6
Real time biodetection of individual pathogenic microorganisms in food and water.
Johnson PE, Lund ML, Shorthill RW, Swanson JE, Kellogg JL. SoftRay, Inc., 519 South 5th Street, Laramie, WY 82070, USA.

  The primary objective of this research is to examine the feasibility of using an innovative technique based on laser-induced fluorescence coupled with flow cytometry to detect pathogenic microorganisms in food or water in real time. Our initial application is the rapid detection of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef. The research performed demonstrated conclusively that this approach is feasible, and that the technique has key advantages over current alternatives including: it is (1) able to totally examine a large volume of food or water in real time, (2) capable of detecting single microorganisms (alternative techniques require in excess of 10(4) microorganisms), (3) intrinsically automatic, and (4) sensitive only to the selected bacteria. We have demonstrated the feasibility of detecting individual E. coli bacteria with a breadboard system. The performance of this system allows for rapid detection of individual specific pathogenic microorganisms. Two of the most significant commercial applications of this technique are the detection of infectious microorganisms in contaminated food and water. Food-borne microbial pathogens account for approximately 7 million illnesses and 9,000 deaths in the U.S. annually, with an estimated economic loss of at least $6 billion. In addition, this method has the potential for a broad range of other commercial applications, including the detection of small numbers of molecules, such as the ultrasensitive detection of explosives and groundwater contaminants.

PMID: 11347387

Asian J Androl 2000 Dec;2(4):263-9
Xenoesterogens and male infertility: myth or reality?
Rozati R, Reddy PP, Reddanna P, Mujtaba R. Assisted Conception Services Unit, Mahavir Hospital and Research Centre, Hyderabad (A.P.) 500 028, India.

  AIM: To evaluate the role of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as a potential environmental hazard in the deterioration of male fertility.
  METHODS: Fifty-three males were studied. After a thorough case history evaluation and relevant clinical and laboratory investigations, PCBs were estimated in the seminal plasma of 21 infertile men with "Unexplained Male Factor" and 32 fertile controls. Peak retention times of the eluants were compared with those of the commercially available standard PCB Mix, and the results confirmed spectrophotometrically. Seminal PCB concentrations were compared between i) fertile and infertile men and ii) men from different areas and diets. The relationship between PCB concentrations and measures of sperm quality such as the total motile sperm count, was assessed.
  RESULTS: PCBs were detected in seminal plasma of infertile men but absent from controls. Sperm quantity and quality were significantly lower in infertile men compared to controls. The highest average PCB concentrations were found in fish-eating urban dwellers, and followed in succession by fish-eating rural dwellers, non fish-eating urban dwellers and non fish-eating rural dwellers. The total motile sperm counts were inversely proportional to the PCB concentrations and were significantly lower than those of the respective controls.
  CONCLUSION: PCBs may be instrumental in the deterioration of sperm quantity and quality, a contaminated fish diet being the main source of exposure.

PMID: 11202414

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2000 Oct;44(10):2777-83
Animal and human multidrug-resistant, cephalosporin-resistant salmonella isolates expressing a plasmid-mediated CMY-2 AmpC beta-lactamase.
Winokur PL, Brueggemann A, DeSalvo DL, Hoffmann L, Apley MD, Uhlenhopp EK, Pfaller MA, Doern GV. University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.

  Salmonella spp. are important food-borne pathogens that are demonstrating increasing antimicrobial resistance rates in isolates obtained from food animals and humans. In this study, 10 multidrug-resistant, cephalosporin-resistant Salmonella isolates from bovine, porcine, and human sources from a single geographic region were identified. All isolates demonstrated resistance to cephamycins and extended-spectrum cephalosporins as well as tetracycline, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, and sulfisoxazole. Molecular epidemiological analyses revealed eight distinct chromosomal DNA patterns, suggesting that clonal spread could not entirely explain the distribution of this antimicrobial resistance phenotype. However, all isolates encoded an AmpC-like beta-lactamase, CMY-2. Eight isolates contained a large nonconjugative plasmid that could transform Escherichia coli. Transformants coexpressed cephalosporin, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, and sulfisoxazole resistances. Plasmid DNA revealed highly related restriction fragments though plasmids appeared to have undergone some evolution over time. Multidrug-resistant, cephalosporin-resistant Salmonella spp. present significant therapeutic problems in animal and human health care and raise further questions about the association between antimicrobial resistance, antibiotic use in animals, and transfer of multidrug-resistant Salmonella spp. between animals and man.

PMID: 10991860

J Antimicrob Chemother 2000 Dec;46(6):965-71
Antibiotic resistance in salmonellae isolated from humans and animals in France: comparative data from 1994 and 1997.
Breuil J, Brisabois A, Casin I, Armand-Lefevre L, Fremy S, Collatz E. Laboratoire de Bacteriologie, Centre Hospitalier Intercommunal, 40 Allee de la Source, 94190 Villeneuve-Saint Georges, France.

  Among 25526 recorded isolates of salmonellae, 5086 isolated from humans and 20440 from animals in 1994 and 1997 in France, the antibiotic resistance phenotype was determined for all human and 5336 animal isolates. In Salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium, one of the two most frequently isolated serovars from humans as well as animals, resistance to ampicillin was observed in 61% of both human and animal isolates in 1994 and in 73% of human and 53% of animal isolates in 1997. During these periods, resistance to co-amoxiclav was between 45% and 66% for both types of isolate. Resistance to ampicillin was associated with resistance to streptomycin, spectinomycin, sulphonamide, tetracycline and chloramphenicol in over 70% of isolates. Resistance to ampicillin as well as co-amoxiclav never exceeded 7% in Salmonella enteritidis. While Salmonella hadar was practically absent among the human isolates in 1994, this serovar was the third most frequent in 1997, and at that time 92% were resistant to nalidixic acid. Among the animal S. hadar isolates, the prevalence of resistance to nalidixic acid increased from 3% in 1994 to 72% in 1997. None of these isolates manifested high-level resistance to ofloxacin. The levels of resistance to aminoglycosides (< or =3%) and trimethoprim-suphamethoxazole (< or =14%) remained practically unchanged in all three serovars. The resistance markers of 463 ampicillin-resistant S. typhimurium isolated in 1997 were determined. Among the 24 phenotypes observed, six multiresistance phenotypes, representing 82% of these isolates (as compared with 80% in 1994), were associated with the PSE-1 gene typically found in the lysotype DT104 of this serovar.

PMID: 11102416

J Clin Microbiol 2000 Dec;38(12):4633-6
Antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella isolates from swine.
Gebreyes WA, Davies PR, Morrow WE, Funk JA, Altier C. Department of Microbiology, Pathology, and Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27606, USA.

  We examined the antimicrobial resistance of 1,257 isolates of 30 serovars of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica isolated from swine. Serovars Typhimurium and Typhimurium var. Copenhagen were widespread and were frequently multidrug resistant, with distinct resistance to ampicillin, kanamycin, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline and to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline, respectively.

PMID: 11101609

Appl Environ Microbiol 2000 Aug;66(8):3241-8
Three-year study to assess human enteric viruses in shellfish.
Le Guyader F, Haugarreau L, Miossec L, Dubois E, Pommepuy M. Microbiology Laboratory, IFREMER, Nantes Cedex 03, France.

  The main pathogenic enteric viruses able to persist in the environment, such as hepatitis A virus (HAV), Norwalk-like virus (NLV), enterovirus (EV), rotavirus (RV), and astrovirus (AV), were detected by reverse transcription-PCR and hybridization in shellfish during a 3-year study. Oyster samples (n = 108), occasionally containing bacteria, were less frequently contaminated, showing positivity for AV (17%), NLV (23%), EV (19%), and RV (27%), whereas mussel samples, collected in areas routinely impacted by human sewage, were more highly contaminated: AV (50%), HAV (13%), NLV (35%), EV (45%), and RV (52%). Sequences obtained from HAV and NLV amplicons showed a great variety of strains, especially for NLV (strains close to Mexico, Snow Mountain Agent, or Norwalk virus). Viral contamination was mainly observed during winter months, although there were some seasonal differences among the viruses. This first study of virus detection over a fairly long period of time suggests that routine analysis of shellfish by a molecular technique is feasible.

PMID: 10919776

Rev Sci Tech 2000 Aug;19(2):493-508
Avian infectious bronchitis virus.
Ignjatovic J, Sapats S. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

  Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is prevalent in all countries with an intensive poultry industry, with the incidence of infection approaching 100% in most locations. Vaccination is only partially successful due to the continual emergence of antigenic variants. At many sites, multiple antigenic types are simultaneously present, requiring the application of multiple vaccines. Although many countries share some common antigenic types, IBV strains within a geographic region are unique and distinct, examples are Europe, the United States of America and Australia. Measures to restrict the introduction of exotic IBV strains should therefore be considered. Infectious bronchitis has a significant economic impact; in broilers, production losses are due to poor weight gains, condemnation at processing and mortality, whilst in laying birds, losses are due to suboptimal egg production and downgrading of eggs. Chickens and commercially reared pheasants are the only natural hosts for IBV. Other species are not considered as reservoirs of IBV. The majority of IBV strains cause tracheal lesions and respiratory disease with low mortality due to secondary bacterial infections, primarily in broilers. Nephropathogenic strains, in addition to tracheal lesions, also induce prominent kidney lesions with mortality of up to 25% in broilers. Strains of both pathotypes infect adult birds and affect egg production and egg quality to a variable degree. Infected chicks are the major source of virus in the environment. Contaminated equipment and material are a potential source for indirect transmission over large distances. Virus is present in considerable titres in tracheal mucus and in faeces in the acute and recovery phases of disease, respectively. Virus spreads horizontally by aerosol (inhalation) or ingestion of faeces or contaminated feed or water. The virus is highly infectious. Clinical signs will develop in contact chicks within 36 h and in nearby sheds within one to two days. Infection is resolved within fourteen days with a rise in antibody titres. In a small number of chicks, latent infection is established with subsequent erratic shedding of virus for a prolonged period of time via both faeces and aerosol. Movement of live birds should be considered as a potential source for the introduction of IBV. Isolation and identification of IBV is needed for positive diagnosis. The preferred method of isolation is to passage a sample in embryonating specified-pathogen-free chicken eggs. Identification is either by monoclonal antibody based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or polymerase chain reaction. Virus neutralisation test in tracheal organ culture is the best method for antigenic typing. Continual use of live vaccines complicates diagnosis since no simple diagnostic tool can differentiate a field from a vaccine strain. Nucleotide sequencing of the S1 glycoprotein is the only method to discriminate between all IBV strains. Serology is also complicated by continual use of live vaccines. For surveillance purposes, ELISA is the method of choice, regardless of the antigenic type of IBV involved. The assay is used to monitor the response to vaccination, but field challenge can only be detected if flock antibody status is monitored continually. The antigenic type of a challenge strain involved cannot be ascertained by ELISA.

PMID: 10935276

J Food Prot 2000 Jul;63(7):912-5
Vancomycin resistance and antibiotic susceptibility of enterococci in raw meat.
Pavia M, Nobile CG, Salpietro L, Angelillo IF. Medical School, University of Catanzaro Magna Graecia, Italy.

  The purpose of this study was to investigate antimicrobial resistance, in particular to vancomycin, of enterococci in samples (100) of meat (beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, and pork) sold in retail outlets of Catanzaro (Italy). Enterococci were identified to the species level. Antimicrobial susceptibility tests for a large spectrum of antibiotics including glycopeptides were performed by the disk diffusion method. Kappa statistic was used to evaluate associations of resistance to vancomycin with other antimicrobials. Enterococci were isolated from 45% of the samples, mostly from chicken meat (65.4%). Overall, 29% of samples were contaminated by vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), whereas among those positive they represented 64.4% of isolates. Higher prevalence of vancomycin resistance was found in chicken samples (76.5%). The overall resistance to teicoplanin (TRE) was 30%, whereas among those positive, TRE represented 66.7% of isolates. The most frequent isolates were Enterococcus faecium (35.6%) and Enterococcus faecalis (33.3%). Resistance to vancomycin and teicoplanin was observed in 75% and 78.5% of E. faecium, and in 40% and 46.7% of E. faecalis, respectively. Most strains were susceptible to ampicillin (80%), while 88.9% were resistant to methicillin. The most effective antimicrobials were imipenem (73.3% susceptible) and rifampin (80%). The highest prevalence of resistance was for streptomycin (88.9%), tetracycline (84.4%), and erythromycin (75.6%). Resistance to vancomycin was significantly associated to methicillin, teicoplanin, erythromycin, tetracycline, and chloramphenicol. Further investigations about enterococcal colonization and infections in community and hospital subjects are needed.

PMID: 10914659

Int J Food Microbiol 2000 Jul 25;59(1-2):73-7
Prevalence and contamination levels of Listeria monocytogenes in retail foods in Japan.
Inoue S, Nakama A, Arai Y, Kokubo Y, Maruyama T, Saito A, Yoshida T, Terao M, Yamamoto S, Kumagai S. National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

  Retail foods in Japan were surveyed for the presence and contamination levels of L. monocytogenes. It was isolated from 12.2, 20.6, 37.0 and 25.0% of 41 minced beef, 34 minced pork, 46 minced chicken and 16 minced pork-beef mixture samples, respectively. MPN values were higher than 100/g in five (10.9%) minced chicken samples, but lower than 100/g in all minced beef, pork and pork-beef mixture samples. The organism was also isolated from 5.4% of the 92 smoked salmon samples at MPN values lower than 10/g, and from 3.3% of 213 ready-to-eat raw seafood samples at MPN values from lower than 0.3 to higher than 100/g. None of the 285 vegetable samples were contaminated with L. monocytogenes. These findings indicate that ready-to-eat raw seafoods are relatively high risk among the foods surveyed in this study.

PMID: 10946841

Sci Total Environ 2000 Jul 20;257(1):53-60
Concentrations of cadmium, lead and zinc in livestock feed and organs around a metal production centre in eastern Kazakhstan.
Farmer AA, Farmer AM. Tri.Stan, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, UK.

  This paper presents results of analysis of animal feed and meat (cattle, horse and sheep) products from a metal processing region (Oskemen) in east Kazakhstan. Samples were collected from a range of districts of differing distances from the main source of anthropogenic pollution and with differing underlying metal-containing geologies. Analyses for cadmium, lead and zinc revealed high concentrations in many feed and meat samples. Horse (an important food animal) samples had higher levels of contamination than cattle, which were higher than sheep. For example, mean cadmium concentrations in horse kidneys in one district were found to be 128 mg/kg and lead concentrations for liver 2.2 mg/kg. These, and other, results are generally higher than reported in many other studies in contaminated regions of eastern Europe and they can exceed State Maximal Allowed Concentrations by many times. As such levels of contamination pose a significant potential risk to human health, these results have formed the basis for subsequent research on levels of metal contamination in human tissues from affected populations.

PMID: 10943902

Chemosphere 2000 May-Jun;40(9-11):1041-53
Increase of the PCDD/F-contamination of milk, butter and meat samples by use of contaminated citrus pulp.
Malisch R. Chemische Landesuntersuchungsanstalt Freiburg, Germany.

  In Germany from 1993 to 1997, the polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and -furans (PCDD/F) contamination of food decreased slowly but constantly. However, for milk and butter, this trend was gradually reversed beginning in September 1997: From summer 1997 to February 1998 the average PCDD/F contamination of dairy products increased from a low level of about 0.6 pg I-TEQ/g fat in summer 1997. The dioxin content, of a limited number of randomly collected samples, rose on average to 1.41 pg I-TEQ/g fat (median 1.06 pg I-TEQ/g fat) in different regions of Germany in February 1998. A butter sample from the Netherlands with 1.96 pg I-TEQ/g fat hinted at the same source. The congener pattern in all contaminated milk and butter samples had elevated amounts of 2,3,7,8-TCDD and 1,2,3,7,8-PeCDD. Also, meat samples (beef, cow's meat and veal) with the same dioxin pattern were found to contain between 1.72 and 4.26 pg I-TEQ/g fat (background contamination of 0.53 pg I-TEQ/g fat). Large number of samples were analyzed to find a key for the cause. With a farmer producing milk with about 4.9 pg I-TEQ/g fat, a new source of PCDD/F for food contamination was discovered: the use of PCDD/F contaminated citrus pulp from Brazil as feed material for ruminants on a very large scale. Containing about 5-10 ng I-TEQ/kg, this component was about 20-100 times more highly contaminated than average feed with background contamination. Very complex pieces of circumstantial evidence were gathered to prove the correlation between this component of feed and the increase of dioxin contamination in milk. With respect to the huge trade of this feed ingredient on the global market, many other countries were involved. As an immediate response on these findings, the European Community fixed a preliminary maximum permitted level of 500 pg I-TEQ/kg citrus pulp, valid since August 1998.

PMID: 10739045

J Pediatr 2000 May;136(5):599-605
Comment in:
  J Pediatr. 2000 May;136(5):571-3.
  J Pediatr. 2001 Apr;138(4):611-2.
Maternal seafood diet, methylmercury exposure, and neonatal neurologic function.
Steuerwald U, Weihe P, Jorgensen PJ, Bjerve K, Brock J, Heinzow B, Budtz-Jorgensen E, Grandjean P. Faeroese Hospital System, Thorshavn, Faeroe Islands.

  OBJECTIVE: To determine whether neonatal neurologic function is adversely affected by seafood contaminants from maternal diet during pregnancy.
  STUDY DESIGN: One hundred eighty-two singleton term births were evaluated in the Faeroe Islands, where marine food includes pilot whale. Maternal serum, hair, and milk and umbilical cord blood were analyzed for contaminants. Levels of essential fatty acids, selenium, and thyroid hormones were determined in cord blood. Each infant's neurologic optimality score was determined at 2 weeks of age adjusted for gestational age, and predictors were assessed by regression analysis.
  RESULTS: Exposures to methylmercury and polychlorinated biphenyls were increased in relation to maternal seafood intake, as were omega3 fatty acid concentrations in cord serum. Thyroid function was normal. After adjustment for confounders, a 10-fold increase of the cord-blood mercury concentration was associated with a decreased neurologic optimality score of 2.0 (P =. 03). This effect corresponds to a decrease in gestational age of about 3 weeks. Other indicators of the seafood diet had no effect on this outcome.
  CONCLUSIONS: Prenatal exposure to methylmercury from contaminated seafood was associated with an increased risk of neurodevelopmental deficit. Thus in this North Atlantic population, methylmercury constituted an important neurologic risk factor, although effects of other seafood components were not detectable.

PMID: 10802490

J Food Prot 2000 Apr;63(4):542-4
Isolation of Yersinia from raw meat (pork and chicken) and precooked meat (porcine tongues and sausages) collected from commercial establishments in Mexico City.
Ramirez EI, Vazquez-Salinas C, Rodas-Suarez OR, Pedroche FF. Departamento de Microbiologia, Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biologicas, Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Carpio y Plan de Ayala S/N Col. Santo Tomas, Mexico.

  A total of 160 meat product samples were collected from commercial outlets in Mexico City to investigate the presence of different species of Yersinia by the 4 degrees C enrichment method after 1, 3, 5, and 7 days of incubation using alkaline treatment and isolating in cefsulodin-Irgasan-novobiocin and MacConkey agars with Tween 80. Overall, Yersinia spp. were isolated from 27% of the samples analyzed, whereas 40% of the raw and only 13% of the precooked samples were contaminated. Although 2,970 colonies showed Yersinia characteristics, only 706 (24%) actually corresponded to this genus: 49% were Yersinia enterocolitica, 25% Yersinia kristensenii, 15% Yersinia intermedia, 9% Yersinia frederiksenii, and 2% Yersinia aldovae; 10% corresponded to biotype 2, 2% to biotype 3, and 4% to biotype 4. The presence of Yersinia in raw and cooked meat products represents a health risk for consumers in Mexico, where further clinical studies are needed to assess the epidemiological importance of this pathogen.

PMID: 10772223

N Engl J Med 2000 Apr 27;342(17):1242-9
Comment in: N Engl J Med. 2000 Apr 27;342(17):1280-1
Ceftriaxone-resistant salmonella infection acquired by a child from cattle.
Fey PD, Safranek TJ, Rupp ME, Dunne EF, Ribot E, Iwen PC, Bradford PA, Angulo FJ, Hinrichs SH. Nebraska Public Health Laboratory, and Department of Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha 68198-5400, USA.

  BACKGROUND: The emergence of resistance to antimicrobial agents within the salmonellae is a worldwide problem that has been associated with the use of antibiotics in livestock. Resistance to ceftriaxone and the fluoroquinolones, which are used to treat invasive salmonella infections, is rare in the United States. We analyzed the molecular characteristics of a ceftriaxone-resistant strain of Salmonella enterica serotype typhimurium isolated from a 12-year-old boy with fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
  METHODS: We used pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and analysis of plasmids and beta-lactamases to compare the ceftriaxone-resistant S. enterica serotype typhimurium from the child with four isolates of this strain obtained from cattle during a local outbreak of salmonellosis.
  RESULTS: The ceftriaxone-resistant isolate from the child was indistinguishable from one of the isolates from cattle, which was also resistant to ceftriaxone. Both ceftriaxone-resistant isolates were resistant to 13 antimicrobial agents; all but one of the resistance determinants were on a conjugative plasmid of 160 kb that encoded the functional group 1 beta-lactamase CMY-2. Both ceftriaxone-resistant isolates were closely related to the three other salmonella isolates obtained from cattle, all of which were susceptible to ceftriaxone.
  CONCLUSIONS: This study provides additional evidence that antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella in the United States evolve primarily in livestock. Resistance to ceftriaxone, the drug of choice for invasive salmonella disease, is a public health concern, especially with respect to children, since fluoroquinolones, which can also be used to treat this disease, are not approved for use in children.

PMID: 10781620

Lett Appl Microbiol 1999 Nov;29(5):354-8
The effectiveness of hygiene procedures for prevention of cross-contamination from chicken carcases in the domestic kitchen.
Cogan TA, Bloomfield SF, Humphrey TJ. PHLS Food Microbiology Research Unit (FMRU), Exeter, UK.

  Thirteen sites in each of 60 domestic kitchens were examined for Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. following the preparation of a chicken for cooking and the application of different hygiene regimes. During food preparation bacteria became widely disseminated to hand and food contact surfaces. Where cleaning was carried out with detergent and hot water using a prescribed routine there was no significant decrease in the frequency of contaminated surfaces. Where hypochlorite was used in addition, a significant reduction in the number of contaminated sites was observed. The study suggests that there is a need to better understand and promote effective hygiene procedures for the domestic kitchen.

PMID: 10664978

Acta Vet Scand Suppl 1999;92:67-75
Public health aspects of antibiotic resistance monitoring in the USA.
Tollefson L, Fedorka-Cray PJ, Angulo FJ. Center for Veterinary Medicine, U.S Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, Maryland, USA.

  Treatment of food-producing animals with antimicrobial agents that are important in human therapy may present a public health risk by the transfer of resistant zoonotic pathogens or resistant genes from animals to humans via consumption of contaminated food. Resistant bacteria can diminish the effectiveness of antibiotics and demand the use of more expensive or less safe alternatives. In 1996, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) established the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring Program to prospectively monitor changes in antimicrobial susceptibilities of zoonotic enteric pathogens from human and animal clinical specimens, from healthy farm animals, and from carcasses of food-producing animals at slaughter plants. Data resulting from the monitoring program will be used to redirect antimicrobial drug use, primarily through educational initiatives directed at health practitioners, in order to diminish the development and spread of resistance. Veterinary testing is conducted at USDA's Agricultural Research Service and CDC's Foodborne Disease Laboratory is testing human isolates under contract to FDA. Both the CDC and USDA laboratories are using a semi-automated system (Sensititre, Accumed, Westlake, Ohio) for testing susceptibilities of the isolates to 17 antimicrobial agents on a minimum inhibitory concentration plate. Comparable methods for isolate handling are used in both laboratories. This paper describes the development, implementation, and objectives of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring Program, presents initial data generated by the program, and discusses future plans.

PMID: 10783719

Int J Food Microbiol 1999 Dec 1;53(1):75-80
Incidence of Listeria monocytogenes in different types of meat products on the Belgian retail market.
Uyttendaele M, De Troy P, Debevere J. Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, University of Ghent, Belgium.

  A survey was undertaken to determine the incidence and numbers of L. monocytogenes in a variety of meat products (cooked meat products, raw cured meat products (dried or not), mayonnaise based salads and prepared meals). As expected, raw cured meat products were significantly higher contaminated with L. monocytogenes than cooked meat products, 13.71% (113/824) and 4.90% (167/3405), respectively. Also a larger proportion of raw cured meat product samples contained a high initial level of the pathogen ( > 10 cfu/g). Higher incidence rates were obtained for whole cooked meat products (e.g. cooked ham, bacon) after slicing than before slicing, 6.65 and 1.56%, respectively, indicating cross-contamination. Due to multiple handling and processing steps, the incidence rate of the pathogen was higher for cooked minced meat products than for whole cooked meat products, 6.14 and 3.96%, respectively. No significant differences were obtained in the incidence of L. monocytogenes in whole cured meat products (e.g., raw ham) and minced cured meat products (e.g., dry fermented sausage), 14.92 and 11.69%, respectively. Lower incidence rates of L. monocytogenes were obtained for raw, cured meat products using beef or horse meat, 4.65 and 5.88%, respectively, A high incidence rate of L. monocytogenes was noted for the mayonnaise based salads (21.28% (186/874)) as well as for prepared meals (11.70% (92/786)), the latter especially due to contamination of vegetarian meals.

PMID: 10598117

Rev Esp Quimioter 1999 Sep;12(3):250-4
[Antimicrobial susceptibility of a selection of Salmonella enterica strains of various origins isolated in Spain.] [Article in Spanish]
Cruchaga S, Echeita A, Usera MA. Laboratorio de Enterobacterias, Servicio de Bacteriologia, Centro Nacional de Microbiologia, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Majadahonda (Madrid).

  The widespread use of antimicrobials in human and veterinary practice is increasingly causing the emergence of different multidrug-resistant human pathogens. This situation makes treating infections caused by these microorganisms difficult. Salmonella enterica is an ubiquitous organism and may be a good indicator of the influence of the use and abuse of antimicrobials on the appearance of multiresistant strains. One hundred and ninety S. enterica strains of different origins isolated in Spain in 1996 were randomly selected. The minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) was studied using the agar dilution method according to NCCLS criteria in the following antimicrobials: ampicillin, ticarcillin, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, cefazolin, cefuroxime, cefotaxime, imipenem, gentamicin, apramycin, ciprofloxacin, streptomycin, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, sulfamethoxazole and co-trimoxazole. Sixty-three percent of the S. enterica tested were resistant and 24% were multiresistant. The percentage of resistant and multiresistant strains of S. enterica of human origin was slightly higher than those of nonhuman origin. Statistically, ampicillin, ticarcillin and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid were significantly more resistant in strains of human origin. Ninety-one percent of the strains of Typhimurium serotype and phagotype 104 were multiresistant. The Salmonella Typhimurium serotype and phagotype 104 ACSTSu-resistant clone, which is widespread in various Western countries, was also isolated in this study. The use of different antimicrobials in human and veterinary practice needs to be rationalized.

PMID: 10878517

J Clin Microbiol 1999 Jan;37(1):266-9
Increasing incidence and comparison of nalidixic acid-resistant Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serotype typhimurium isolates from humans and animals.
Heurtin-Le Corre C, Donnio PY, Perrin M, Travert MF, Avril JL. UPRES 12-34 Microbiologie, Faculte de Medecine, Universite de Rennes I, 35033 Rennes, France.

  We determined the resistance to quinolone of 309 Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serotype Typhimurium strains isolated from humans and animals (cattle, pigs, or poultry) in 1995 or 1996. Nalidixic acid resistance increased from 8.5% in 1995 to 18.6% in 1996. The highest resistance levels correlated with a mutation at Ser-83 (or Asp-82). All strains remained ciprofloxacin susceptible. Human and animal isolates were compared by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and the banding patterns of the human isolates most closely matched those of the bovine isolates.

PMID: 9854111

Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr 1999 Feb;112(2):41-3
Antibiotic resistance pattern of foodborne Salmonella isolates in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
Molla B, Kleer J, Sinell HJ. Department of Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Veterinary Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.

  A total of 39 Salmonella cultures isolated from raw minced beef and chicken (gizzard, liver, and heart) samples in Addis Ababa were examined for susceptibility to a group of 10 selected antimicrobials. 34 isolates (87.2%) were resistant to one or more antibiotics. The antibiotics to which isolated Salmonella strains were most often fully resistant included nitrofurantoin (48.7%), furazolidone (48.7%) and streptomycin (46.2%). Only 4 antimicrobials (gentamycin, kanamycin, rifampicin and sulphamethoxazole-trimethoprim) were effective against all Salmonella isolates with the exception of 2 which were intermediate in resistance to kanamycin (1) and sulphamethoxazole-trimethoprim (1). 77.8% of the S. Enteritidis strains showed multiple resistance to up to four antibiotics followed by S. Typhimurium (60.0%) and S. Dublin (33.3%). The high level of antibiotic resistance of foodborne Salmonella isolates in the study area is an indication of indiscriminate and continuous use of subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics in animals.

PMID: 10189719

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 1998 Dec;17(12):880-3
High rates of antimicrobial resistance among clinical isolates of nontyphoidal Salmonella in Taiwan.
Yang YJ, Liu CC, Wang SM, Wu JJ, Huang AH, Cheng CP. Department of Pediatrics, National Cheng Kung University Medical College and Hospital, Tainan, Taiwan.

  To assess trends in antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella infections from 1989 to 1996 in southern Taiwan, the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of 14 antibiotics or antibiotic combinations were determined by the agar dilution method for 297 clinical isolates of nontyphoidal Salmonella. The rates of resistance to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and tetracycline were 65, 67, and 78%, respectively. Resistance to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) increased from 25% in 1989-1992 to 35% in 1993-1996 (P=0.057). For new quinolones and extended-spectrum cephalosporins, no resistant strains were encountered. Multiple resistance to more than five antimicrobial drugs doubled from 10.6% in 1989-1992 to 19.7% in 1993-1996. Multiply resistant salmonellae were isolated more commonly from blood samples than from feces (30% vs. 14%, P<0.05). In Taiwan, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and even TMP-SMX are no longer the drugs of choice for treatment of serious nontyphoidal Salmonella infections. Extended-spectrum cephalosporins are now the preferred drugs in Taiwan for treatment of invasive Salmonella infections in children.

PMID: 10052556

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 1998 Jun;17(6):385-7
Antibiotic resistance in Salmonella enterica serotype typhimurium.
Gross U, Tschape H, Bednarek I, Frosch M. Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology, University of Wurzburg, Germany.

  In order to analyse the development of antibiotic resistance in Salmonella spp., a total of 262 Salmonella strains isolated in 1987 (n = 148) and in 1996 (n = 114) from clinical specimens in Wurzburg, Germany, were tested in parallel by the agar diffusion method. In 1987. most of the strains were Salmonella enterica serotype typhimurium (42.6%), whereas in 1996 most were Salmonella enterica serotype enteritidis (68.4%). The majority of Salmonella enterica serotype enteritidis isolates was fully susceptible in 1987 and 1996. In contrast, the percentage of drug-resistant strains of Salmonella enterica serotype typhimurium increased significantly from 27% in 1987 to 52.4% in 1996. This increase, which might reflect uncontrolled use of antibiotics in the environment, should be of concern to public health authorities.

PMID: 9758275

N Engl J Med 1998 May 7;338(19):1333-8
Comment in: N Engl J Med. 1998 May 7;338(19):1376-8 N Engl J Med. 1998 Sep 24;339(13):921-2
Emergence of multidrug-resistant Salmonella enterica serotype typhimurium DT104 infections in the United States.
Glynn MK, Bopp C, Dewitt W, Dabney P, Mokhtar M, Angulo FJ. Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.

  BACKGROUND: Strains of salmonella that are resistant to antimicrobial agents have become a worldwide health problem. A distinct strain of Salmonella enterica serotype typhimurium, known as definitive type 104 (DT104), is resistant to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfonamides, and tetracycline and has become a major cause of illness in humans and animals in Europe, especially the United Kingdom.
  METHODS: To characterize typhimurium DT104 infections in the United States, we analyzed data collected by local and state health departments and public health laboratories between 1979 and 1996 in national surveys of the antimicrobial-drug resistance of salmonella. Selected typhimurium isolates with the five-drug pattern of resistance were phage typed.
  RESULTS: The prevalence of typhimurium isolates with the five-drug pattern of resistance increased from 0.6 percent in 1979-1980 to 34 percent in 1996. In 1994-1995, such isolates were identified in samples from 36 of the 46 surveillance sites (78 percent). Thirty-nine of 43 typhimurium isolates with the five-drug pattern of resistance identified in 1994-1995 and 1996 were phage type DT104 or a closely related phage type.
  CONCLUSIONS: Multidrug-resistant typhimurium DT104 has become a widespread pathogen in the United States. More prudent use of antimicrobial agents in farm animals and more effective disease prevention on farms are necessary to reduce the dissemination of multidrug-resistant typhimurium DT104 and to slow the emergence of resistance to additional agents in this and other strains of salmonella.

PMID: 9571252

Enferm Infecc Microbiol Clin 1996 Nov;14(9):528-32
[Antibiotic resistance in Salmonella enterica: an increasing problem.] [Article in Spanish]
Galan JC, Varea M, Castillo FJ, Clavel A, Gomez-Lus R. Servicio de Microbiologia, Hospital Clinico Universitario Lozano Blesa, Zaragoza.

  OBJECTIVE: To determine the evolution of the frequencies of Salmonella enterica serotypes and their resistance to antimicrobial agents.
  METHOD: A retrospective study of all S. enterica strains isolated from stool samples in the Hospital Clinico Universitario of Zaragoza over the period 1990-1994.
  RESULTS: Enteritidis was the most frequently isolated serotype (62.9%), although it showed a progressive decrease (from 76.2% in 1990 to 39.8% in 1994). Typhimurium was the serotype showing the highest resistance levels, 37.1% of its isolates being resistant to ampicillin, streptomycin, chloramphenicol and tetracyclin. There was a distinct increase in the frequency of multiresistant strains, from 9.7% in 1990 to 22.9% in 1994. Of 88 such strains, 78.4% corresponded to serogroup B, whereas only 4.5% to serogroup D. Of the antimicrobial agents traditionally considered elective, only cotrimoxazole maintained acceptable resistance levels (4.4%). Resistance to fluoroquinolones or 3rd-generation cephalosporines was not detected.
  CONCLUSIONS: The increasing frequency of Typhimurium, a highly resistant serotype, restrains the elective antimicrobial agents to cotrimoxazole in children and fluoroquinolones in adults. 3rd-generation cefalosporines may be a good alternative in case of therapeutic failure.

PMID: 9035708

Appl Environ Microbiol 1994 Nov;60(11):4015-21
Transfer of multiple drug resistance plasmids between bacteria of diverse origins in natural microenvironments.
Kruse H, Sorum H. Department of Pharmacology, Microbiology and Food Hygiene, Norwegian College of Veterinary Medicine, Oslo, Norway.

  Plasmids harboring multiple antimicrobial-resistance determinants (R plasmids) were transferred in simulated natural microenvironments from various bacterial pathogens of human, animal, or fish origin to susceptible strains isolated from a different ecological niche. R plasmids in a strain of the human pathogen Vibrio cholerae O1 E1 Tor and a bovine Escherichia coli strain were conjugated to a susceptible strain of the fish pathogenic bacterium Aeromonas salmonicida subsp. salmonicida in marine water. Conjugations of R plasmids between a resistant bovine pathogenic E. coli strain and a susceptible E. coli strain of human origin were performed on a hand towel contaminated with milk from a cow with mastitis. A similar conjugation event between a resistant porcine pathogenic E. coli strain of human origin was studied in minced meat on a cutting board. Conjugation of R plasmids between a resistant strain of the fish pathogenic bacterium A. salmonicida subsp. salmonicida and a susceptible E. coli strain of human origin was performed in raw salmon on a cutting board. R plasmids in a strain of A. salmonicida subsp. salmonicida and a human pathogenic E. coli strain were conjugated to a susceptible porcine E. coli strain in porcine feces. Transfer of the different R plasmids was confirmed by plasmid profile analyses and determination of the resistance pattern of the transconjugants. The different R plasmids were transferred equally well under simulated natural conditions and under controlled laboratory conditions, with median conjugation frequencies ranging from 3 x 10(-6) to 8 x 10(-3). The present study demonstrates that conjugation and transfer of R plasmids is a phenomenon that belongs to the environment and can occur between bacterial strains of human, animal, and fish origins that are unrelated either evolutionarily or ecologically even in the absence of antibiotics. Consequently, the contamination of the environment with bacterial pathogens resistant to antimicrobial agents is a real threat not only as a source of disease but also as a source from which R plasmids can easily spread to other pathogens of diverse origins.

PMID: 11865872

Yakushigaku Zasshi 1994;29(3):428-34
[Historical review on chemical and medical studies of globefish toxin before World War II] [Article in Japanese]
Suehiro M. Japanese Society for History of Pharmacy.

  "Fugu," a species of globefish has eaten by Japanese people for a long time, so globefish poisoning in Japan has been prevalent. Figures are shown in the Annual Food Poisoning Report collected and issued by health service authorities of Japanese Government since 1879. These reports prompted Dr. Yoshizumi Tahara, National Institute of Hygienic Sciences to conduct a chemical investigation of the toxic substance of globefish in 1884. However, the analysis was very difficult and his report of investigation was delayed. Before publication of the report of Dr. Tahara, pharmacological and toxicological studies of globefish poisoning were reported by three research groups from the Facultly of Medicine, University of Tokyo in 1889. These reports concluded that globefish poison has curare-like activity and its distribution was limited to specific organs such as the ovaries and the liver. Dr. Tahara successfully isolated the poison from aqueaous extract of ovaries of globefish by precipitation with lead acetate in the presence of ammonia. He presented the results at the monthly meeting of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan in July 1894. He continued the studies and established an improved method for extraction and purification suitable for large-scale production. Finally, he confirmed that globefish contains only one toxic substance and named it Tetrodotoxin (TTX) in 1909. He elucidated the chemical nature of TTX as follows: 1) TTX is an amorphous hygroscopic powder and its character is neither alkaloid nor protein. 2) The possibility of TTX being a protamine was excluded by chemical analysis. Before the discovery ot TTX, according to folklore, globefish was regarded as medicine for leprosy because flesh of globefish contaminated with a sublethal dose of toxic substance alleviated the neuralgia of patients affected with leprosy. The clinical effect of TTX prepared by Tahara's method to suppress severe neuralgia due to leprosy and to reduce muscle spasms due to tetanus were reported by dermatologists in 1911. TTX was also given to patients with rheumatoid arthritis due to its analgesic effect. Thus, injectable TTX was manufactured and distributed by Sankyo Co., Ltd. from 1913. In terms of purity, the TTX preparation manufactured by Tahara's method seemed to be much more crude than the crystalline TTX obtained by Professor Tsuda and Dr. Kawamura in 1952. According to their report, the LD50 of the preparation for clinical use manufactured by Tahara's method was 4-5 mg/kg mouse compared to 4-6 microg/kg mouse of crystalline TTX.

PMID: 11613509

Am J Vet Res 1985 Jun;46(6):1387-91
Retrospective study of four years of carcass condemnation rates for malignant lymphoma in California cows.
Thurmond MC, Lapuz GR, Farver TB, Mandac GC.

  A retrospective study was undertaken to examine monthly rates of carcass condemnation for bovine malignant lymphoma in adult dairy cows slaughtered between January 1979 and December 1982, in 2 plants (A and B) in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California. Extremes (mean) of monthly rates for slaughterhouse A were 41 to 100 (65.9) per 10,000 slaughtered and for slaughterhouse B, 39 to 113 (94.1) per 10,000. The overall monthly mean rate was 80 per 10,000 slaughtered. Equations for long-term trend lines for condemnation rates for slaughterhouses A and B were T = 0.398 + 0.0176t - 0.0002t2 and T = 0.314 + 0.0378t - 0.0007t2, where t = month. A difference in patterns of trends was not apparent, although slaughterhouse A tended to have lower rates of condemnation than did slaughterhouse B. Seasonal components of trend lines, estimated by time-series analysis, were not consistent between plants, except for the month of August, during which time seasonally adjusted rates were low for both slaughterhouses. For slaughterhouse A, 2 classic cyclical components were identified--between January 1981 and September 1981 and between September 1981 and September 1982. For slaughterhouse B, the cyclical components were between November 1979 and July 1981 and between July 1981 and August 1982. The later cycle resembled the second cycle of rates from slaughterhouse A. Rates remained stable through 1979 and then increased steadily for 2.5 years. During the last 6 months of 1982, rates leveled off and perhaps began to decline.

PMID: 2992323



Home page