Saturday, September 18, 2010

Salmonella: Duck Eggs, Frogs & Others

Ducks in my home village, China /© 2008 Am Ang Zhang

Years back when I was a medical student, we were taught that ducks basically carry salmonella as a matter of course due to their aquatic habitat and for that reason the Chinese have always been careful to make sure that ducks are well cooked unlike some modern day fancy cooking where duck meat is often presented rare. 

As it is coming up to Chinese Moon Festival time, it is worth mentioning that our moon cake often have one or two duck egg yolks in them, yes, salted egg yolk in moon cake. They too are of course well cooked.

Recently there has been an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium DT8 food poisoning in the UK.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) reported:

17 September 2010
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has investigated an on-going national outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium DT8. 

Salmonella Typhimurium DT8 causes a similar illness to other forms of Salmonella infection, so symptoms can include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever.

So far this year, the HPA has confirmed 66 reports of human infection in England and Northern Ireland.  Figures for previous years were 34 in 2008 and 47 in 2009.   

Of the reported cases two are known to have been hospitalised, one of whom has died. Cases are mainly adults with an average age of 46 years, and most are men (61 per cent).  Cases have been referred from Northern Ireland and most regions in England, with predominance in the South East and North West.   

 “It became clear from our investigations that the increase was related to the consumption of duck products, mainly eggs. It is important that consumers and caterers are aware that all eggs, including duck eggs, may occasionally be contaminated with Salmonella and follow advice provided by the Food Standards Agency in order to reduce the risk of infection. Eggs should be cooked thoroughly and good hygiene practices, such as washing hands, utensils and kitchen surfaces should be followed after handling or using duck eggs.”

There is of course another very important source of the infection: pets especially frogs and turtles.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported earlier in the year:

Strawberry poison dart frog (nicknamed Blue Jean frog)
- Dendrobates pumilio/
© 2008 Am Ang Zhang

During April--July 2009, the Utah Department of Health identified five cases of Salmonella Typhimurium infection with indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns, predominantly among children. In August, CDC began a multistate outbreak investigation to determine the source of the infections. This report summarizes the results of this ongoing investigation, which, as of December 30, had identified 85 S. Typhimurium human isolates with the outbreak strain from 31 States.

31 States!!!

Environmental samples taken from patient homes in four states yielded the outbreak strain of S. Typhimurium. The Colorado Department of Public Health obtained matched isolates from two African dwarf frogs, and from a rock and water in the aquarium containing the two frogs. The New Mexico Department of Health matched the outbreak strain with isolates from the filtration system, gravel, and water from an aquarium in a patient's home containing fish and a small water frog. The Ohio Department of Health matched the outbreak strain with isolates from a patient's deceased African dwarf frog, its water, and the lid and edge of its aquarium. The Utah Department of Health obtained matched isolates from a container used to clean African dwarf frogs in a patient's home.

Traceback investigations of frogs associated with positive environmental isolates have been completed. African dwarf frogs from the homes of the Colorado patient and the Utah patient were prizes from games at two different carnivals. The vendor who distributed the frogs to both carnivals was from Utah and identified the source as a breeder in California. Environmental sampling from the vendor's home (of aquarium filters and skin previously shed from African dwarf frogs) yielded multiple isolates matching the outbreak strain. The aquatic frog from the home of the New Mexico patient was purchased from a pet store chain, whose distributor identified the same breeder as the source for all of its aquatic frogs. The family of the Ohio patient purchased its African dwarf frog from a department store, whose distributor identified the breeder as the ultimate source of its frogs.

Environmental sampling from the breeder's California facility yielded S. Typhimurium isolates matching the outbreak strain. Positive samples were collected from multiple locations in the facility, including water tanks that contained African dwarf frogs and gravel in the water filtration system.

CDC’s advice:

  • Persons at increased risk for serious infection from salmonellosis are children < 5 years old, elderly persons, and persons with weakened immune systems.
  • These persons should avoid contact with amphibians (e.g., frogs) and reptiles (e.g., turtles) and anything that comes in contact with them (e.g., aquarium, habitat, and water).
  • Keep amphibians and reptiles out of homes with children < 5 years old or people with weakened immune systems.

Iguana iguana, Costa Rica/© 2007 Am Ang Zhang
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Julie said...

Ach, you've just ruined moon cake for me, CC. I had some from a Chinese friend of mine a couple of years back; she was studying here and was very homesick and she said the moon cake was to remind her of all her relatives and friends who would be eating it and gazing at the moon at the same time. It tasted very nice and very rich as well; what she called a 'hot' food. Anyway, happy Moon festival. I saw a fire lantern floating above Glasgow last night; they're becoming very popular here.

Cockroach Catcher said...

So sorry Julie. Moon cake is one of those most wonderful Chinese thing you can get. Lotus seed paste and duck egg. All the lutein and zeaxanthin you can get from the yolk. Trust me they are so overcooked.

Moon Cakes helped to overthrow the Yuan government( Mongolians ) in China returning the country to the rule of the Han (indigenous) race and the Ming Dynasty was born. Messages were embedded in the Moon Cakes.

So I am going to have it, Salmonella or otherwise!!!

utah caterer said...

Great very interesting post.......good article I really enjoyed ...It tasted very pleasant and very wealthy as well; what she called a 'hot' food. Anyway, happy Moon festival. I saw a fire light suspended above Glasgow last night; they're attractive very popular here...
Thanks for this informations....

Cockroach Catcher said...

Thanks Utah, but is there a Glasgow in Utah?