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Salmonella, cyclospora, & pinkeye - oh my!

The Executive Briefing - Friday, June 16th

Health News:

  • A new Salmonella Paratyphi outbreak with 31 cases is being investigated. This specific variant called the B variant L(+) tartrate (+) was formerly known as Salmonella Java, and no product has yet been identified. Past outbreaks included nut butter. (FDA)
  • A second cyclospora outbreak with 28 cases is also being investigated by the FDA, while another with 20 cases is still ongoing. (FDA)
  • The FDA has expanded the recall on frozen organic berries to include even more brands. All are imported from Mexico. (FDA)
  • The Biden administration is urging states to slow Medicaid cuts after more than one million enrollees have been dropped. (KFF)
  • Mild skin-friendly cleansers are effective for handwashing, even against COVID, according to a new study sponsored by CeraVe, whose products were the ones tested. (Frontiers in Virology)
  • The CDC is warning travelers of a ‘high risk’ of polio when traveling to 31 countries, including Canada and the UK. (USA Today)
  • Obesity may permanently change the brain’s ability to recognize fullness and satisfaction after eating fats and sugars. (CNN)
  • Millions who got COVID may never fully recover their sense of smell. (Boston Globe)
  • There was a rise in hospitalizations for fungal infections during the pandemic. (CIDRAP)
  • There’s a high death rate - about one in three - for one type of fungal infection in particular - Candida Auris, which is a multidrug-resistant fungus. (CIDRAP)
  • A new vaccine candidate for the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus shows promise in phase three trials. (CIDRAP)
  • A new meta-analysis shows dogs can sniff COVID with a similar accuracy to rapid tests. (Science Direct)
  • The University of Delaware reached a $6.3 million settlement with students to reimburse part of their spring 2020 semester fees since the campus was shut down. (ABC)
  • The Marburg virus outbreaks in Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea have ended. (WHO)
  • Men died of overdoses at 2-3x the rate of women in 2020-2021. (NIH)
  • Counterfeit pills containing fentanyl are now found in pharmacies across Mexico. (LA Times)
  • Patients with HIV saw a rise in rare, deadly meningitis infections last year. (ABC)

Mental Health News:

  • Suicide hotlines promise anonymity, but dozens of their websites send sensitive data to Facebook. (STAT)
  • A new study shows that people who used combined birth control pills were at greater risk of developing depression than those who didn’t. (Science Daily)
  • People who are gay, lesbian, or bi have more mental health and substance use problems, a new study shows. (CNN)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or need help, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions:

Are your other clients seeing an increase in employees who need mental health support?

Yes - across the board, all of our clients are seeing an increase in mental health concerns among their employees. Our own ZHH clinical team has seen more and more chats that come through our sick call program that are actually employees in an acute mental health crisis, including people who are reaching out about their suicidal ideation. It’s becoming clear that there’s a much blurrier line between physical and mental health than most employer health programs acknowledge, and people are really struggling out there.
Source: ZHH Clinical Team

We have a large group of employees with pinkeye. What should we do?

We’re seeing more and more pinkeye, in part because it’s a somewhat common symptom with the latest XBB variant of COVID that’s going around right now. If you have a pinkeye outbreak, first, check if the employees have any other symptoms. If they have cold symptoms, you might actually be looking at a COVID cluster. If not, it’s likely either viral or bacterial pinkeye, both of which can be very contagious. If you have a large group affected, it’s best to keep everyone with symptoms at home for a few days. If any of them seek medical attention you may find out more about whether it’s bacterial (in which case they may need antibiotic eye drops) or viral (in which case you’ll just need to wait the virus out). Consider limiting operations if you need to, as such a visible illness can cause your brand reputation to take a hit. For restaurants, consider switching to takeout or drive-through/curbside only for a few days. Encourage handwashing, switch to paper towels instead of dishcloths or cloth rags, and warn employees to avoid touching their faces as much as possible.
Source: CDC

What COVID rules are still in place in California?

California recently enacted its non-emergency COVID standard, which is in place for the next two years. It eases up on some of the COVID pay and financial burdens on employers but is still more stringent than most states. It’s main requirements include:

  • Providing COVID training & taking measures to prevent COVID transmission at work
  • Keeping sick employees out of work for 5 days, and they must mask through Day 10
  • Notifying and providing no-cost tests (rapid are fine!) to close contacts exposed at work.
  • Close contact in CA now means anyone who shared the same indoor space for 15 cumulative minutes in a day for most businesses (spaces under 400,000 cubic feet)
  • Requiring face coverings in certain situations (including exposure), and advising employees that there can be no retaliation if they choose to mask
  • Improving ventilation and air filtration
  • Keeping records of COVID cases in the workplace, and reporting serious illnesses and outbreaks to CalOSHA and the local health department when required

There are many more nuances to this, and you should speak with your legal team before using any of this information to determine your COVID policy. You can see the full text of the CalOSHA standard here and the (frankly more useful) FAQs here.
Source: CA.gov

Best Read:

How the Mixed Messaging of Vaccine Skeptics Sows Seeds of Doubt | KFF Health News

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.