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The Executive Briefing - Friday, April 21st

Cumin recall for Salmonella 🧂⚠️

Hi ZHH community! Are you planning on attending the National Restaurant Assoc. show in Chicago next month? We’d love to grab a coffee or a drink and catch up while you’re there! Email lsweeney@zerohourhealth.com if you’re attending and have time to say hello!

Health News:

  • There’s a recall on ground cumin due to Salmonella contamination. It was packaged generically but labeled Lipari brand and was distributed to at least 16 states. (FDA)
  • SARS-CoV-2 is mutating to escape Paxlovid. (Science.org)
  • Protecting others was the message that resonated most with COVID vaccinations. (CIDRAP)
  • An investigational therapy, which failed as an effective treatment for long COVID, appears to shorten the length of fatigue associated with it by up to 25%. (MedPage Today)
  • Lyme disease season is stretching longer as climate change means ticks are active for more months of the year. (NPR)
  • Strep infection rates are still high, even compared to pre-COVID levels. (NBC)
  • Most Americans are worried about RSV, especially for their kids or older family members. (STAT)
  • It’s not just the US - public confidence in vaccines for kids has declined since 2019 in 52 of 55 countries surveyed. (UNICEF)
  • Pharmacists will still be able to administer COVID vaccines, treatment, and tests even after the public health emergency ends on May 11th, until at least Dec. 2024. (HHS)
  • 20 endangered condors living in the wild in Arizona and Utah have died, and half of them have been confirmed to have the H5N1 avian flu that’s spreading like wildfire. (FWS)
  • A new bioanalytics firm will test wastewater for norovirus. (Axios)
  • More than twenty states now allow pups on restaurant patios with more coming thanks to changes in the 2022 Food Code.  (Restaurant.org)

Mental Health News:

  • Sen. John Fetterman opened up about his mental health struggles and treatment. (People)
  • Some people who find successful treatment for life-threatening depression can get cut off by their insurance company. (NPR)
  • A city in Belgium with a centuries-old tradition of families taking in psychiatric patients as boarders may offer an alternative to modern mental health care. (NY Times)

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

Best Questions:

Can our COVID sanitizing protocol substitute for a noro sanitizing protocol?

Generally, the products that kill COVID will also kill noro but you need to double-check the specific product that you’re using against the FDA’s list of noro-approved sanitizers (found here). Remember, some sanitizers (like QUAT) don’t work as well against noro. There are a few things unique to noro, like tossing prepped food if the sick person prepped food, and an extra focus on the bathroom area.

Can a guest really give your employees noro?  

Believe it or not, yes. Your employees are touching the same surfaces, handling silverware that guests had in their mouths, and may also be sharing the same bathrooms. So it’s possible that a sick guest can actually spread illness, particularly with something as infectious as norovirus. We’ve heard guest complaints that, when we map out the timeline, imply that the guests were already sick with noro before their server was infected. It’s relatively rare, but remember that just 18 viral particles can make someone sick with noro, and a sick person sheds billions (with a ‘B’)!

Are there times you should call the health department even if you don’t have a confirmed lab diagnosis for an illness?

There isn't a simple answer. If you have a large party who became ill, or there are children involved, or if several people have sought medical attention, you should at least consider contacting the health department before they contact you. You should also be prepared for a health inspection. However, there are always risks in contacting the health department, which can be unpredictable. We recently had two local health departments both competing for control and significantly overreacting to what turned out to be a false alarm. Health departments can vary widely in their experience and reaction. If you have a positive relationship with your health department and know they’re a good partner, proactively reaching out is likely less risky. If you have a contentious relationship or a very reactive health department, you will want to tread carefully, though you should always call if you think there’s a serious outbreak happening. For ZHH clients, we can certainly help and may have connections in the local or state health department, so be sure to reach out to our team for support.

What should we consider in terms of guest and employee health when designing restrooms for new locations?

One study found that of NYC business managers, almost all had found drug paraphernalia and more than half had encountered active drug use in their business’ bathroom. Counterintuitively, the more public the space, the less likely it is to be used for drugs, bathing, or other activities that might negatively impact your business. Brightly lit, easily visible hallways with mirrors and multi-stall restrooms remove some privacy, which makes bathrooms less appealing to those looking for a place to use drugs, vandalize property, etc. Be sure stall doors open outward in case of an emergency so first responders can get to someone unresponsive inside. Consider including a sharps or medical waste container, which can be useful not only for those who use IV drugs but also those who have medical conditions that require injections, for example. Some businesses are looking into stocking naloxone (Narcan) in their first aid kits in areas with higher drug use. And perhaps most important, train your team in what to do if (or, more likely, when) they encounter a medical emergency or drug use in the bathroom.

Best Read:

The NIH has poured $1 billion into long Covid research — with little to show for it | STAT 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.