Sunday, 29 July 2012

A gift for Norovirus Nerds


The writer has long been a norovirus nerd. See award winning article here

The article below  forget to mention that 76 per cent of oysters in the UK test positive for norovirus: see here

What they are still doing on sale is baffling. The situation elsewhere is little better.

Personally, the writer hoped that the Olympic Games opening would include British public health and the veterinary establishment in leg chains being whipped though the arena before being incarcerated on a remote very wet Scottish island for corruption and crimes against humanity.

Surely, someone, somewhere will eventually do something sensible, like mounting a major police investigation, not least into excessive secrecy to protect civil service pals and cronies.

Worse is still to come - watch this space.

Anyway, here is Barfblog - specialists in food safety

Heston Blumenthal: the gift that keeps on giving (for norovirus nerds)


In Jan. 2009, the beginnings of the world's largest known restaurant-based norovirus outbreak began to take hold in Heston Blumenthal's fancy pants Fat Duck restaurant.

A new report in Epidemiology and Infection reiterates much of what was known at the time and summarized in a subsequent U.K. Health Protection Agency report, but still hammers home the point that a series of errors can culminate in a lot of people barfing.

About 591 in this outbreak.

The report doesn't mention The Fat Duck by name, but...

...Norovirus in raw shellfish, especially oysters, is nothing new. But the amplification of risk by a series of dumb assumptions (we can contain this) and omissions (don't tell anyone) is staggering.

"The size and duration of this outbreak exceed any other commercial restaurant-associated norovirus outbreaks in the published literature. It is hoped that lessons learned from this outbreak will help to inform future action by restaurateurs especially in early notification to public health authorities once an outbreak is suspected."

Monday, 23 July 2012

Norovirus hits Olympic Games

This is no surprise, the UK authorities have been playing down norovirus outbreaks, for years, in the hospitals, with relations kept from seeing their very ill relatives by soft words and slick PR operations.

Now, if this gets worse, the British government are in deep trouble: well deserved trouble and on the international stage too.

It's not just the cruise industry that is falling apart from constant norovirus outbreaks. See article here

All the past outbreaks will have to be dragged out for re-examination.

And yes, pigs get norovirus too, so Britain's corrupt veterinary establishment will not escape questioning.

Anyway, lets hope the Olympics will not be disrupted by a bug that should have been properly controlled years ago.

Here is the BBC report

23 July 2012 Last updated at 15:25

London 2012: Badminton teams in hotel food poisoning

The infection affected five Olympic hopefuls

Five members of Australia and Canada's badminton teams were among a
number of guests who fell ill with food poisoning at a hotel in

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) investigated when guests had
stomach bugs after eating at the Mickleover Court Hotel, Derby, last

It said norovirus had been identified as the cause of the infection.

The three Australians have fully recovered but two Canadians had to
miss a warm-up match on Saturday...

...The HPA said: "Norovirus has been identified as the cause of the
infection and we are working with environmental health officers from
South Derbyshire District Council to identify the source of the

Friday, 20 July 2012

Porcine Circovirus mutates

A more virulent mutation of Porcine circovirus has emerged in China.

We now know that porcine circovirus first appeared in Britain in 1999. It was covered up, before being eventually identified as the PMWS and PDNS manifestations. The serious co-infections were treated with antibiotics.

Classical Swine Fever and, Foot and Mouth arrived shortly thereafter in the sick and weakened national pig herd.

The massive quantities of antibiotics used since to handle co-infections and the resulting antibiotic resistance spreading to humans has also been covered up.

Not  a happy situation for Britain's government veterinarians. They have much to explain.

Chinese report in full  here

A Porcine Circovirus Type 2 (PCV2) Mutant with 234 Amino Acids in Capsid Protein Showed More Virulence In Vivo, Compared with Classical PCV2a/b Strain

...Porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) is considered to be the primary causative agent of postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS), which has become a serious economic problem for the swine industry worldwide. The major genotypes, PCV2a and PCV2b, are highly prevalent in the pig population and are present worldwide. However, another newly emerging PCV2b genotype mutant, which has a mutation in its  ORF2-encoded capsid protein, has been sporadically present in China, as well as in other countries. It is therefore important to determine the relative virulence of the newly emerging PCV2b genotype mutant, compared with the existing PCV2a and PCV2b genotypes, and to investigate whether the newly emerging mutant virus induces more severe illness...

This is believed to be the first report to confirm the enhanced virulence of the newly emerging PCV2 mutant in vivo.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

USA tests pig vets for MRSA

 It would be beneath the dignity of Britain's veterinarians to get themselves tested for MRSA.

They don't even test the pigs, what hope the veterinarians?

They would rather risk spreading it from farm to farm and take it home to their families.

They know that many of them would be found carrying MRSA and cannot face the inevitable investigation and disgrace that would follow. It has been known that veterinarians carry unusual levels of MRSA for many years.

Mind you, in Britain, from past experience, they would fake or suppress the results anyway, so we are probably better looking abroad for reliable information.

The American veterinary organisations are trying to get ahead of the problem.

Link to American report here

NIOSH Funded Survey of Occupational Safety and MRSA in US Swine Veterinarians

July 18, 2012 — Peter Davies, Leticia Linhares

Dr. Peter Davies at the University of Minnesota is leading a NIOSH funded study of occupational safety in US swine veterinarians, including a long term study of Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA that includes two components.

68 AASV members have volunteered for an 18 month study of nasal colonization with S. aureus
A broader survey of occupational health and safety in US swine veterinarians, similar to a study last done in 1995.
The survey will be conducted on-line using Survey Monkey. The target population is US swine veterinarians who will be contacted via email and invited to participate via a link in the message.

If selected, you can help contribute to better information about health and safety in our profession by responding to the on-line survey link in to be circulated in late July. We expect survey completion will require 10 – 20 minutes of your time.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

ExPEC E.coli story breaking in USA

Maryn McKenna, in association with others, is breaking a big superbug story now in the USA.

This time it is chicken and ExPEC E. coli

8 million E.Coli infections a year in the USA, giving urinary problems, is major news for Britain too, as there is no reason to think Britain is exempt from the problem.

ABC, "Good Morning, America" take here

The short video is well worth watching.

Maryn McKenna's longer article is here

America is waking to the story on breakfast news.

Interestingly, we bump up against medical ethics in the race and necessity of absolute proof.

Although the problem may not be limited to women, the fact that it is presented as such, will undoubtedly bring most women's organisations into the fray.

If Britain's veterinarians think they can slope off from their responsibilities for excessive antibiotic prescription to sick livestock, they are sadly mistaken.

From the top down, they will be required to explain their actions and inaction over the past years.

Some of the answers will shock Britain to the core. Things will never be quite the same again.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

USA: consumers prefer meat raised without antibiotics

All these surveys have to be approached with the maximum of scepticism, but the result does seem to accord with common-sense.

People everywhere want to buy meat raised without antibiotics and that is what they will get, whatever the vets' financial interests. That's capitalism in action.

The problem created by veterinary greed and recklessness, in the absence of external supervision, is now biting back to give farming a problem: "How do you raise with pigs without antibiotics?"

The trite answer is "With difficulty"

The real answer is that you have to change the systems, mostly backwards to earlier models: no single ownership of pigs at many locations, reduced movement of  people between farms, not least vets and no import or export of live pigs or semen. Spread of disease has to be reduced, to allow pigs to be raised without antibiotics.

The veterinary livestock business will change. The front line will virtually disappear. If they have no antibiotics there is little they can do and they won't be allowed to go from farm to farm for fear of spreading disease.

The veterinary establishment will have to be reformed and changed.

Trade media comment here

USA: consumers prefer meat raised without antibiotics

10-Jul-2012 (today)
June 2012/ Consumer Reports/ USA.

According to a recent nationwide poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 86 percent of consumers indicated they thought that meat raised without antibiotics should be available in their local supermarket...

...82 percent said they would buy it if it were available.

Meat and poultry raised without antibiotics does not have to be expensive.

Studies over the last decade have indicated that raising meat and poultry without antibiotics could be accomplished at minimal cost to the consumer-about 5 cents extra per pound for pork and less than a penny per pound extra for chicken.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Antibiotic use will be curbed...unless

Progress in Scotland, but the problem is not with the farmers or producers.

Veterinarians are doing the prescribing and taking the profits, assisted by their cronies and backed by the state veterinary service providing protection by bullying dissenters and whistle-blowers.

We have just heard that the Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation into the alleged Libor bank rate rigging. 

Antibiotic use in livestock will probably be the next scandal in line for such treatment.

Something has got to be done to protect public health from criminal activity.

Full Farmers Weekly article here 

Antibiotic use will be curbed unless producers show more care

Nancy Nicolson

Friday 06 July 2012 10:02

Antibiotic use will be curbed by knee-jerk legislation unless farmers can demonstrate they are using them more responsibly, scientists have warned.
That was the message at an international conference in Edinburgh, organised jointly by the Moredun Research Institute and NFU Scotland to tackle head-on the threat of EU restrictions in the light of antibiotic resistance in animals and humans...

..."Scotland is a world leader in developing farm veterinary health planning and there is an opportunity now for vets and farmers to take this to the next level...

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Pig Out

The important "Nature" launches an attack on US antibiotic use in pigs, by making a comparison between the USA and Denmark. It is a fair comparison and one that could also be made between Britain and Denmark too.

However, it makes an artificial distinction between animals fed antibiotics for growth promotion, for disease prevention and for disease treatment.

Even making an effort to distinguish depends on the integrity and judgement of the veterinarian - and we don’t see much hope in relying on that -would be about as effective as encouraging investment banksters to “be good.”

What the Danes did do was make the whole process completely transparent. Their minister faced down his veterinarians and published the name of every farm, its location and their antibiotic use, together with an interactive map, using the alternative media to publish.

He led from the front and ignored the veterinarians who were furious.  You can read the extraordinary story here

The veterinarians and pig farmers were shamed into cleaning up their act. Transparency forced reform. The farms with sick pigs were identified and had to deal with the problem properly. 

That is not going to happen in Britain. Our virtually unregulated veterinary industry is untouchable. The government veterinarians make and break the rules. They regulate their own industry with a featherweight touch.

So Britain is going to continue to feed pigs excessive antibiotics until the disaster becomes so bad and so obvious that the government is forced to take draconian action.

The Danes will have a thriving pig industry but will have to watch for infection from abroad. 

They will lead those insisting on reform in Britain and elsewhere.

The veterinary industry knew what they were doing and were motivated by greed: just like the bankers that fiddled the figures and took the bonuses.

But the bankers just made us poorer; inadequately regulated antibiotic use kills kids

The full "Nature" article can be found here

Pig out

Published online 27 June 2012

If farmers do not rein in the use of antibiotics for livestock, people will be severely affected.
...The overuse of antibiotics in farm animals is a global issue. Human propensity for trade and travel ensures that resistant bacteria spread easily around the world, so as long as any one country pumps its pigs and poultry full of the drugs, everyone is at risk.
In 1998, the Danish poultry industry took the unusual step of volunteering to stop using antibiotics for the promotion of animal growth. Two years later, the country's pork farmers did the same. Denmark might be a small country, but it is the world's largest exporter of pork... 
... Denmark went on to reduce its overall use of antibiotics in livestock by 60%. It achieved this by creating a comprehensive surveillance system to monitor overuse, and limiting the amount of money that vets could make from selling the drugs to farmers.
Many feared that the changes would cripple Denmark's pork production. Instead, production rose by 50%. “Any country trying to limit the use of antibiotics in livestock can learn from what my colleagues and I did in Denmark, adjusting what worked to local needs,” Aarestrup writes. These are encouraging words, but it is unlikely to be that simple.
The biggest obstacle is likely to be generating the political resolve and public support needed to crack down on the lucrative trade in antibiotics. This was possible in Denmark because there, perhaps uniquely, warnings from the medical community were picked up by the media, creating widespread public awareness of the problems caused by the overuse of antibiotics. People in other countries may not be so engaged, particularly when faced with the inevitable lobbying of the agricultural and veterinary sectors, which make big profits from selling antibiotics...
... The people of Denmark deserve praise for their efforts, and other countries, and their people, should look more carefully at what their animals are being fed.