July 2016

Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal

Highlights: Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 22, No. 7, July 2016

The articles of interest summarized below will appear in the July 2016 issues of Emerging Infectious Diseases, CDC’s monthly peer-reviewed public health journal. This issue will feature Zoonoses. The articles are embargoed until June 15, 2016, at 12 p.m. EDT.

Note: Not all articles published in EID represent work done at CDC. In your stories, please clarify whether a study was conducted by CDC (“a CDC study”) or by another institution (“a study published by CDC”). The opinions expressed by authors contributing to EID do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CDC or the institutions with which the authors are affiliated.

1. Turtle-Associated Salmonellosis, United States, 2006–2014, Stacey Bosch et al.

Exposure to small pet turtles has long been recognized as a source of human salmonellosis in the United States, and the public health risk may be increasing. During 2006–2014, 15 multistate outbreaks of turtle-associated salmonellosis in humans were reported nationwide. In all 15 outbreaks, the median age of ill persons was <10 years, indicating that children are still the most affected by turtle-associated salmonellosis. Numerous risky behaviors that can lead to zoonotic transmission of Salmonella bacteria to children have been reported in recent outbreaks, including kissing turtles, letting them roam on kitchen countertops and tabletops where food and drink is prepared or consumed, and cleaning turtle habitats in kitchen sinks. Despite a long-standing federal ban against the sale and distribution of turtles <4 inches long, these small reptiles can be readily acquired through multiple venues and continue to be the main source of turtle-associated salmonellosis in children. Prevention will require novel partnerships and a comprehensive approach involving human, animal, and environmental health.

Contact:  CDC Press Office, 404-639-3286 or media@cdc.gov

2. Comparing Characteristics of Sporadic and Outbreak-Associated Foodborne Illnesses, United States, 2004–2011, Eric D. Ebel et al.

Scientists from the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC) compared the characteristics of outbreak and sporadic (non-outbreak) human illnesses for Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter using data from Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) during 2004-2011. The analyses help assess the usefulness of outbreak data in estimating which major food categories are most often linked to foodborne illnesses.  For Campylobacter, Listeria, and E. coli O157, outbreak and sporadic illnesses are similar for severity, gender and age. For Salmonella, outbreak and sporadic illnesses also are similar for severity and gender, though the percentage of outbreak illnesses among young children was substantially lower. The research findings are important because they indicate that, with the exception of Salmonella illnesses among children younger than 3 years, it is reasonable to use outbreak data to estimate which foods are most often linked to foodborne illnesses.  Analyses, such as this study, help investigators better understand the relationship between sporadic foodborne illnesses and those that are identified as a part of an outbreak. 

Contact: IFSAC, ifsac@fda.hhs.gov

3. Restaurant Cooking Trends and Increased Risk for Campylobacter Infection, Anna K. Jones et al.

In the United Kingdom, outbreaks of Campylobacter infection are increasingly attributed to undercooked chicken livers, yet many recipes, including those of top chefs, advocate short cooking times and serving livers pink. During 2015, researchers studied the preferences of chefs and the public in the United Kingdom and investigated the link between liver rareness and survival of Campylobacter bacteria. They used photographs to assess chefs’ ability to identify chicken livers meeting safe cooking guidelines, and they modeled Campylobacter survival in infected chicken livers cooked to various temperatures to gauge the microbiological safety of livers that chefs preferred to serve. Most chefs correctly identified safely cooked livers; however, they overestimated the public’s preference for rareness and preferred to serve chicken livers that were more rare (and incidentally, less safe). The microbiological findings suggested that an estimated 19%–52% of livers served commercially in the United Kingdom fail to reach the recommended core temperature of 70°C during cooking and that Campylobacter survival rates are alarmingly high (48% to 98%). The trend toward including rarer, pinker meat in the recipes of leading chefs and in mass media representations of meat cooking may be contributing to changes in the way chicken livers are consumed, resulting in what could be called the “gourmet-fication” of foodborne disease.

Contact: Professor Sarah O’Brien via the University of Liverpool press office, nicola.frost@liverpool.ac.uk.


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