Entries in Illness (4)


Alabama Mystery Illness Could Be Coincidence

Pixland/Thinkstock(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- A mystery illness has sickened seven people in southeastern Alabama, killing two of them, according to the state Health Department, but it's not clear whether the patients -- or their symptoms -- are connected.

"At this time, there is no epidemiological link between these patients," an Alabama health department document states in bold type.

The patients' ages range from their mid-20s to their late 80s, Dr. Mary McIntyre, who is leading the investigation, told in an email. Location aside, McIntyre said the patients had no commonalities other than that the "majority" of them had "co-morbidities like smoking, COPD, morbid obesity."

"Temporal clustering can make something look like an outbreak," said Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News. "Good science will tell you whether it is."

The illnesses started with common flu-like symptoms -- shortness of breath, a cough and a fever. But both patients who died had come down with pneumonia, McIntyre said.

Besser said most pneumonia patients are never tested to determine what caused their infection, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could offer "state of the art" diagnostic testing to explain the Alabama cases. Health officials will also question the patients' families and friends to determine common exposures and whether the patients ever had contact with one another.

The first three cases were reported to the health department on May 16 because the patients were on ventilators but had no known cause for their illnesses, according to a health department document. The most recent case was reported May 19.

One of the patients tested positive for H1N1, the "swine flu" that began in spring 2009 and peaked the following October, according to a health department document. Another patient tested for a strain of influenza called AH3.

It's not yet clear whether either flu played a role in this cluster of illnesses, the document states. The five patients who are still living seem to be getting better, McIntyre said. One of them was released Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


PA Health Officials Confirm 35 Cases of Raw Milk Illness

Getty Images(CHAMBERSBURG, Pa.) -- Thirty-five people across four states have been sickened by the same raw milk Pennsylvania health officials confirmed Friday, according to reports.

The Pennsylvania Health Department issued a health advisory last week recommending consumers discard any raw milk produced by The Family Cow farm since Jan. 1. At the time, there were six confirmed cases of Campylobacter infection.

The farm has suspended raw milk production and the Department of Agriculture is testing samples.

Campylobacter infection is one of the most common forms of gastroenteritis, which typically causes vomiting and diarrhea. Approximately 1,300 cases of the infection are reported each year in Pennsylvania. Raw milk is unpasteurized milk, which the FDA says can contain harmful bacteria.

28 cases were reported in Pennsylvania, and the seven other cases were among residents of Maryland, West Virginia, and New Jersey.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eight Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness

Medioimages/Photodisc(WASHINGTON) -- More than 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne disease each year, mostly because they consume raw or undercooked food, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While most cases of food-related illnesses are not serious and last about a couple days, it's hard to tell which exposure could turn more serious.

But there are ways to prevent harmful bacteria from contaminating your food and potentially making you sick.

  • Don't leave foods that need to be chilled sitting out. Refrigerate and freeze necessary foods right away.
  • Do use a meat thermometer to make sure your food is cooked thoroughly.
  • Do wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before and after handling any raw meats, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Do wash utensils and disinfect surfaces before and after use.
  • Don't defrost food on the kitchen counter. Instead, use the refrigerator, cold running water, or the microwave oven.
  • Don't let food marinate at room temperature.
  • Keep marinating food refrigerated.
  • Don't over-pack the refrigerator.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Passes Food Safety Bill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate finally passed a food safety bill on Tuesday that lawmakers had been sitting on for around a year-and-a-half.

Just after returning from a week-long break for the Thanksgiving holiday, senators voted 73-25 to pass the measure. The House must now pass the bill before it can head to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

The $1.4 billion bill aims to prevent massive outbreaks of tainted food by giving the Food & Drug Administration the authority to order mandatory recalls and require more frequent inspections of high-risk food processing plants.

An estimated 76 million illnesses are caused by food-borne contamination each year in the U.S.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio