Connect with us

Health

Here’s why lettuce keeps getting contaminated with E. coli

Published

on

[ad_1]

The Public Health Agency of Canada is once again telling Canadians not to eat their leafy greens — especially, romaine lettuce in Ontario and Quebec — while health officials in the U.S. and Canada try to confirm the source of a new E. coli 0157 outbreak.

But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the caesar salad staple is suspected, and not for the first time.

This is the third outbreak in North America suspected to be linked to romaine in the past year. According to the Microbiology Society, 20 to 30 per cent of outbreaks of E. coli poisoning are caused by people eating contaminated vegetables. Lettuce and other leafy greens are often the culprits. Here’s why: 

How it’s grown

Lettuce needs a lot of irrigation water during cultivation. And sometimes the root of the problem is as simple as cross-contamination on the farm where it’s being grown. 

“You can get contamination from animal production facilities, it gets into the sediment, it gets into the water, which gets irrigated onto the crops, which are then harvested within 40 to 80 days,” says Keith Warriner, a microbiologist specializing in food safety at the University of Guelph.

The way lettuce is grown contributes to its susceptibility to contamination. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

The bacteria can also come from birds flying overhead or other wild animals walking through fields. And, short of moving all production into greenhouses, it’s just very difficult to avoid that kind of contamination. It’s equally hard to pinpoint the source.

“By the time public health officials are notified, people have been sickened for a long time,” said Lawrence Goodridge, professor of food safety at McGill University.” And he said, since the shelf life of lettuce is quite short — about five weeks — it may not even be in circulation any longer. 

Raw versus cooked

But it’s not just lettuce and leafy greens. There is currently a salmonella outbreak in western Canada linked to cucumbers. What do these all have in common? Consider this: when was the last time you cooked your lettuce or cucumbers?

That’s another basic reason why people more often get sick from eating contaminated lettuce and other salad greens. Unlike many other vegetables, they are rarely cooked before being consumed. Cooking kills E. coli 0157 and other bacteria. So other vegetables may be getting contaminated just as lettuce is, but because the vegetables are mostly being cooked, there is no widespread outbreak of illness. 

What about washing?

Washing the produce at home is not a reliable way to remove bacteria.

“The bacteria can be stuck on the surface of the lettuce, it can even get inside the lettuce,” Goodridge says. “So if you wash it, you might remove some of the bacteria, but you’re not removing 100 per cent. And we know in some cases, when we look at historical outbreaks of E. coli, even ingesting one single bacterial cell was enough to cause illness.” 

What about pre-washed packaged lettuce?

If you tend to reach for the convenience of pre-washed, pre-cut greens, you’ve probably seen on the packaging that it says they’ve been double- or even triple-washed. But Goodridge says, again, when it comes to E. coli, that means nothing.

“It’s washed to remove dirt, and chlorinated water is used, but really, that doesn’t do much. In fact, studies have shown it tends to spread the contamination around.” And what’s worse, he suggests, when the lettuce is cut in the processing plant, the leaf releases sugars that the bacteria like to grow on. So the bacteria can multiply even faster. 

Consider, too, he says, that to get to that bag or box, the lettuce has gone through a lot of hands and a lot of machinery, all of which could be harbouring bacteria, too. 

A microscopic image shows colonies of E. coli bacteria grown on an agar plate. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control via Reuters)

Why is lettuce contamination so hard to prevent? 

It’s a question being asked by many scientists. 

“Those of us who work in this area, we have much work to do to try to figure out why this apparently seems to keep happening,” Goodridge says. “Is there something specific about romaine lettuce that perhaps now suddenly in the past year has elevated it, or is it just a coincidence?”

At the University of Guelph, there may be the beginnings of some answers to that. 

‘We’ve actually got some current research going on here that suggests, of all the different lettuce types, E. coli 0157 likes romaine lettuce,” Warriner says, “especially if it is breaking out of its dormant state. So there is an association with leafy greens and E. coli 0157. People suggest it’s a pathogen-vegetable interaction going on, where they’re actually adapted to living on lettuce.” 

Minus any conclusive findings, though, both scientists agree it’s not worth the risk to eat romaine lettuce right now. If you have it, they say, throw it out. And don’t buy any or order it in a restaurant for the time being. 

The National’s health panel talked about the latest lettuce contamination this week:

If you fear your lettuce might be contaminated with E. coli, there is no point in trying to wash the bacteria away – just throw it out, say the doctors on the National’s heath panel. And then clean your fridge. 2:44

[ad_2]

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Health

Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

Published

on

By

(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

Continue Reading

Health

Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

Published

on

By

(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

Continue Reading

Health

Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

Published

on

By

In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

Continue Reading

Chat

Trending