Tainted chicken from a California-based supplier has led to salmonella infections in 278 individuals across 17 states. That number is likely to rise. Forty-two percent of those infected have been hospitalized, which is double the expected hospitalization rate for such an outbreak, the Los Angeles Times reports. No deaths have been reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling this a “complex outbreak,” as four out of seven of the strains of bacteria involved “exhibited drug resistance to one or more commonly prescribed antibiotics.”
Amid a shuttered government, CDC had to recall workers and has limited means of tracking the outbreak. Speaking to USA TODAY, Christopher Braden, director of food-borne illness at the agency, said Pulsenet, the agency’s computerized system for detecting outbreaks, was shut down when the outbreak occurred. “We were trying to do this without the automatic system, and it was nearly impossible,” Reynolds told the paper. Pulsenet is now back online.
Notwithstanding government shutdown, it’s likely we’re going to see more of these episodes. It’s due to a convergence of two trends.
1. Salmonella outbreak numbers are frustratingly stable.
“With salmonella, you see the numbers just stagnating and in some years, you have seen the numbers go up,” Elizabeth Hagen, USDA’s undersecretary for food safety, told me earlier this year. She said it’s due, in part, to outdated food-safety practices.
“We’ve been doing things largely the same way since the 1950s,” she explained. “We have an enormous proportion of our resources focused on looking at visual defects on the birds that don’t actually correlate with food-safety risk.”
2. Antibiotic resistance is growing in salmonella.
In September, CDC released a comprehensive report on the growth of antibiotic resistance in many strains of bacteria. Drug-resistant bacteria now account for 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths per year. Resistance is growing in diseases that are only found in hospitals, like the “nightmare bacteria” CRE, but also in diseases that are found in everyday locations, such as food packaging. “About 5 percent of non-typhoidal salmonella tested by CDC are resistant to five or more types of drugs,” the agency found. But these percentages have been growing since at least 1996, when it was almost nonexistent.
CDC describes the disease in awful terms: “Most persons infected with salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment.” And those with the drug-resistant variety are more likely to end up in the hospital. In all, the CDC estimates, drug-resistant salmonella costs $365 million a year to treat.
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."