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Salmonella in ground beef & Hep A in strawberries

The Executive Briefing - Friday, June 9th

Health News:

  • The world’s longest COVID patient may live in Columbus, OH. (Axios)
  • A salmonella outbreak in the Chicago area has been linked to ground beef. (AP)
  • A shingles vaccine may cut the risk of Alzheimer's and other dementia by 20%, according to a new study of 300,000 patients in the UK. (Nature)
  • Tara flour is hypothesized as the likely cause of the Daily Harvest outbreak. (Chem RT)
  • Sucralose (also known as Splenda) may damage DNA, leading to safety concerns. (Newsweek)
  • Minnesota researchers have confirmed that a diabetes drug, Metformin, may be effective in treating long COVID, reinforcing earlier findings. (MPR)
  • Smoke from wildfires blanketed the northeast and is heading west and south, posing a risk to those who have to work outside. (Washington Post)
  • Bird flu researchers are closely monitoring the global outbreak of H5N1, which continues to ravage wild and domesticated bird populations. (NY Times)
  • The pandemic has made it nearly impossible for lawmakers to pass new vaccine policies, even for non-COVID illnesses like HPV, which can cause cancer. (Politico)
  • There have been 9 deaths in a bacterial outbreak of Klebsiella pneumoniae in a Seattle hospital. (USA Today)
  • Fatigue from long COVID can affect patients’ quality of life more than some cancers. (BMJ)
  • More organic frozen strawberries were recalled in relation to the Hep A outbreak from a few months ago, this time from the DayBreak brand. (FDA)

Mental Health News:

  • Exposure to wildfires and smoke may increase rates of anxiety and depression. (ABC)
  • Mental health affects teen girls’ brains (and vice versa). (Axios)
  • Some companies are offering Mental Health First Aid training to their employees. (Mental Floss)

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:

Can wastewater monitoring be expanded to include foodborne illnesses and other diseases?

Yes! Just this past month, the CDC announced it is “exploring the possibility and benefit of monitoring for other health threats detectable in wastewater, including antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, norovirus, and influenza.” This is already being done for polio in New York state. Early detection and infection control measures are critical to prevent extensive transmission, especially for a virus like noro which spreads so easily.  If we know that an area is seeing increased norovirus activity from the wastewater, it’s an opportunity to take action - like increasing sanitizing measures or implementing daily wellness checks. Last week’s report that more than 40% of outbreaks are tied to restaurant employees working sick highlights how important those actions can be in preventing outbreaks.
Source: CDC

Are you seeing more COVID “outbreaks” again?

Yes, we have several clients who have had multiple confirmed positive cases in a single location over the last two weeks. This follows NYC seeing an uptick of the virus in wastewater. While hospital admissions are still low, there’s very little tracking of overall cases happening at this point, so we have to rely on more anecdotal information and data from our sick calls and wellness checks. Our own clinical team has seen about a 15% increase in confirmed positive COVID cases in the past week compared to the average for the previous three weeks.
Source: CDC

Should we continue COVID testing before large company gatherings?

While most routine COVID testing has stopped, testing before a large gathering continues to make good sense. In April, more than 10% of attendees at a CDC conference became infected - and they were public health experts studying infectious diseases! Although outbreaks associated with corporate conferences have been less newsworthy, we’re hearing about them at ZHH regularly. The larger impact tends to be on business operations - when an entire team goes down with COVID for a week, it can be incredibly disruptive to business. We recommend having employees test the day before the event. In the case of employees reporting symptoms or positive tests during or just after the event, additional testing should be made available before attendees return to their usual workplace or office.
Source: CDC

From the ZHH Blog:

How to Protect Employees from Wildfire Smoke

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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.