Red Onions Linked to Salmonella Outbreak, Officials Say

Red Onions Linked to Salmonella Outbreak, Officials Say

More than 500 cases and at least 75 hospitalizations have been reported in the United States and Canada, the health authorities said. She and other top health officials in the Trump administration warn states of a deepening spread of the coronavirus, in both rural and urban areas. The FBI division in Cincinnati is helping Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus with an investigation involving a woman who pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to steal scientific trade secrets from the hospital for her company in China and wire fraud, court documents states.

U.S.|Red Onions Linked to Salmonella Outbreak, Officials Say

More than 500 cases and at least 75 hospitalizations have been reported in the United States and Canada, the health authorities said.

Red onions grown in California have been traced as the potential source of a salmonella outbreak that has infected more than 500 people in the United States and Canada, health officials said.

Confirmed cases have surfaced in 34 states. Those most affected as of Saturday included Oregon (71); Utah (61) and California (49), the Food and Drug Administration said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada reported that the country had 114 cases of salmonella and that at least 16 people had been hospitalized. In the United States, 396 illnesses and 59 hospitalizations have been reported, the F.D.A. said.

The administration said it was able to identify Thomson International, a produce supplier in Bakersfield, Calif., as a likely source of contaminated red onions.

Thomson said on Saturday that it recalled red, yellow, white and sweet onions that were shipped since May 1 because of the risk of contamination.

Onions were distributed to wholesalers, restaurants and retail stores across the country and in Canada, Thomson said. They were also distributed in mesh sacks and cartons under the names TII Premium, El Competitor, Hartley, Onions 52, Imperial Fresh, Utah Onions and Food Lion.

Health officials recommend that consumers throw away any onions or foods made with onions supplied by Thomson, and in general throw away onions if they were unsure of where they came from.

The illness, named salmonellosis, can persist for four to seven days, the agency said. Children, older adults and people with weaker immune systems are most at risk to develop severe illness.

Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Those who are severely ill may also experience a high fever, headaches or a rash.

Salmonella can be spread when the hands, surfaces and tools of food handlers are not clean, and when people eat raw or undercooked food, health officials said. It can also be spread to people from animals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that salmonella causes about 1.35 million infections and 26,500 hospitalizations in the United States each year. Although most people can recover without treatment, more than 400 deaths in the United States each year can be tied to acute salmonellosis.

Almost 1,000 cases of salmonella in 48 states have already been linked this year to contact with backyard poultry, including chicks and ducklings, according to the C.D.C.

At least 151 people have been hospitalized so far this year and one person in Oklahoma has died. More than a quarter of those who have become ill are younger than 5 years old.

In 2019, 165 cases of salmonella in 14 states were caused by pre-cut fruit, like honeydew melon, cantaloupe, pineapple and grapes, the C.D.C. said.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Author: Christina Morales


Birx Says U.S. Epidemic Is in a ‘New Phase’

Birx Says U.S. Epidemic Is in a ‘New Phase’

She and other top health officials in the Trump administration warn states of a deepening spread of the coronavirus, in both rural and urban areas.

  • Aug. 2, 2020Updated 2:40 p.m. ET

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus coordinator, said on Sunday that the nation was in a “new phase” of the coronavirus epidemic that was much more sprawling across the country than last spring’s outbreaks in major cities like New York and Seattle.

She recommended that people living in communities where cases are surging should consider wearing a mask at home, if they live with someone who is especially vulnerable because of age or underlying medical conditions.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April — it is extraordinarily widespread,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union” news program. “It’s into the rural as equal urban areas. So everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune.”

Dr. Birx emphasized the significance of asymptomatic transmission, and said that the White House coronavirus task force was working to make sure Americans in affected communities understood this risk. “If you have an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you’re positive if you have individuals in your home with comorbidities,” like respiratory problems or diabetes.

Dr. Birx said that, in her recent travels, she had seen “all of America moving,” making it doubly important for people to understand the attendant risks, given that cases have surged in many popular holiday destinations. “If you’ve chosen to go on vacation into a hot spot, you really need to come back and assume you’re infected,” she said.

Infected people without symptoms can unwittingly seed numerous chains of infection. “By the time you wait for someone to come forward to the emergency room, you have widespread community spread,” Dr. Birx said.

In some communities seeing recent outbreaks, household transmission has been a huge factor, public health experts say.

Both she and Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, emphasized the importance of prevention methods, like wide-scale mask-wearing, hand-washing, and avoiding crowded indoor spaces like bars or restaurants and mass social gatherings.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Admiral Giroir said on Sunday that some of the efforts seemed to be helping in recent weeks to reduce the number of cases in Arizona, as well as in communities in Texas and Florida — all states that have been hard-hit this summer.

He repeatedly pointed to mask-wearing as perhaps the single-most effective preventive measure in communities experiencing outbreaks. “Wearing a mask is incredibly important but we have to have like 85 or 90 percent of individuals wearing a mask and avoiding crowds,” he said. “That is essentially — gives you the same outcome as a complete shutdown.”

Asked if he was recommending a national mask mandate, Admiral Giroir said, “The public health message is we’ve got to have mask-wearing.” He added: “If we don’t do that, and if we don’t limit the indoor crowded spaces, the virus will continue to run.”

Another guest on CNN on Sunday, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said that, in many areas where cases are surging, the availability of tests was badly lagging. “In 18, 20 states, the number of tests being done is actually falling and falling because our testing system is under such strain that we just can’t even deliver the test today that we were doing two weeks ago,” he said. “That’s very concerning because when cases are rising, and your number of tests are falling, that’s a recipe for disaster.”

Admiral Giroir defended the nation’s testing program, noting it has exponentially been increased in recent months although there are still delays in getting results. He said that both testing and contact tracing efforts were crucial responses, but not particularly helpful in large, communitywide outbreaks.

Updated July 27, 2020

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    • It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
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      • The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
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        • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
          • So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
          • “When you have a widespread, multifocal outbreak where many people are asymptomatic, testing and tracing are of limited utility versus public health policy measures like mask-wearing, like closing indoor crowded spaces,” Admiral Giroir said. “So, yes, contact tracing is important, but it’s much less important right now than the public policy mitigation measures.”

            The admiral, a pediatrician, cautioned that there was still plenty of disinformation circulating on social media. Decisions by most doctors who prescribe drugs were “evidence-based and not influenced by whatever’s on Twitter or anything else,” he said. Asked about hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that President Trump continues to promote, Dr. Giroir was firm: “At this point in time, there’s been five randomized control, placebo-controlled trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine. So at this point in time, we don’t recommend that as a treatment.”

            He added that it was time to “move on” from hydroxychloroquine, and stressed that there are treatments showing more promise. The antiviral drug remdesivir, for example, has been shown to shorten recovery times in severely ill patients, and the steroid dexamethasone lowers the death risk among patients on ventilators. Administration officials have also been promoting the use of convalescent plasma as a potential treatment, although it is still unclear whether it will work against the virus, as well as giving billions of federal dollars to several drug companies that are pursuing vaccines on an accelerated timetable.

            Still, despite encouraging signs in some states fighting to contain the recent outbreaks, Admiral Giroir said, the true cost of those infections will only be clear in the weeks to come. “We are very concerned and this is a very serious point,” he said, “and deaths will continue to increase for the next few weeks” because deaths tend to lag behind case counts.

            Source: www.nytimes.com

            Author: Benedict Carey


            FBI Cincinnati helps Columbus hospital with case involving researcher who plead guilty to stealing trade secrets for company in China, court documents say

            FBI Cincinnati helps Columbus hospital with case involving researcher who plead guilty to stealing trade secrets for company in China, court documents say

            CINCINNATI (FOX19) -The FBI division in Cincinnati is helping Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus with an investigation involving a woman who pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to steal scientific trade secrets from the hospital for her company in China and wire fraud, court documents states.

            Court documents say, Li Chen, 46, from Dublin, Ohio, admitted to stealing scientific trade secrets related to exosomes and exosome isolation from Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute.

            “Li Chen was a trusted researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, conducting cutting-edge U.S. government-funded research,” stated FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge, Chris Hoffman. “With her guilty plea, she admits that she abused this trust to establish a company in China for her own financial gain. The FBI is committed to working closely with partners such as Nationwide Children’s Hospital to protect the innovations that make America a world leader in science and technology.”

            Court documents say Chen and then-husband, Yu Zhou, 50, were arrested in July 2019 and charged with conspiring to steal at least five trade secrets related to exosome research from the hospital.

            The plea agreement states that Chen conspired to steal and monetize one of the trade secrets by creating and selling exosome “isolation kits” for the company in China in 2015 without the hospital’s knowledge.

            Chen admitted to receiving benefits from the Chinese government, including the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Court documents say the hospital was completely unaware of this, court documents state.

            The plea also states that Chen applied to multiple Chinese government talent plans-a method used by China to transfer international research and technology to the Chinese government.

            Chen used hospital time, resources, and equipment at the hospital to benefit the company in China, court documents state.

            Court documents also say that in 2017, Zhou and Chen helped co-found an American biotechnology company. During that same year, Zhou and Chen allegedly received more than $876,000 and stock related to an asset purchase agreement involving the biotechnology company.  It is also alleged Zhou entered into a stock purchase agreement with that same company under which he would receive $450,000.

            Chen agreed to forfeit about $1.4 million, 500,000 shares of common stock of Avalon GloboCare Corp., and 400 shares of common stock of GenExosome Technologies Inc., the plea says.

            State officials say conspiring to, attempting to and committing theft of trade secrets is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Conspiring to, attempting to and committing wire fraud carries a potential maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

            Zhou’s case is still pending.

            Copyright 2020 WXIX. All rights reserved.

            Source: www.fox19.com

            Author: August 1, 2020 at 5:07 PM EDT – Updated August 1 at 7:40 PM


            Red Onions Linked to Salmonella Outbreak, Officials Say


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