FDA Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Likely Linked to Romaine Lettuce Grown in California

Update: November 26, 2018

The FDA, along with CDC, state and local agencies, is investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses likely linked to romaine lettuce grown in California this fall. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency are also coordinating with U.S. agencies as they investigate a similar outbreak in Canada.

The FDA has been conducting a traceback investigation, reviewing shipping records and invoices to trace the supply of romaine from the place where ill people were exposed to the place where that romaine was grown.

Preliminary traceback information indicates that ill people in several areas across the country were exposed to romaine lettuce harvested in California. Specifically, current evidence indicates this romaine was harvested in the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California.

Romaine harvested from locations outside of the California regions identified by the traceback investigation does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Read More>>

Acute Flaccid Myelitis Virginia Update

Acute flaccid myelitis or “AFM” is a condition that affects the nervous system, specifically the spinal cord. Most patients have sudden onset of limb (arm and leg) weakness. AFM is thought to be caused by infections with different types of viruses. The infections most commonly mentioned with AFM include polio or West Nile virus and related infections. Most patients with AFM have a respiratory illness or fever before their limbs are affected. Other causes of AFM are still being explored and may include environmental toxins or genetic disorders. Learn More

CDC: Outbreak of E. coli Infections Linked to Romaine Lettuce

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, Canada, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7) infections linked to romaine lettuce. CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until they learn more about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available. Learn more

Antibiotics Awareness Week – November 12th-18th

This important week alerts individuals to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance – a serious public health issue – and urges everyone to use antibiotics appropriately.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is when bacteria in your body are able to fight the drugs designed to kill them. The antibiotics become useless, and the harmful bacteria are still in your body.

How does antibiotic resistance occur?

Resistance happens when you are exposed to antibiotics inappropriately or over and over again.

How can I protect myself?

Use antibiotics appropriately! This means only taking antibiotics that are prescribed to you, and to take your antibiotics exactly as they are prescribed. It is also important that you do not take antibiotics for infections caused by viruses, because antibiotics do not kill viruses. Some common infections caused by viruses are the common cold, the flu, and most sore throats.

To raise awareness for this week, the Healthcare-Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (HAI/AR) team at VDH challenged nurses across Virginia to join the fight by studying educational material about antibiotic resistance and completing a quiz to test their knowledge. This initiative was designed to help your nurses protect you from antibiotic resistance. The challenge will wrap up on November 15th. Keep an eye out on the VDH social media pages for results!

The HAI/AR team also released a special edition newsletter about Antibiotics Awareness Week, which spotlights hospital systems committed to reducing antibiotic resistance.

We hope you will use the resources provided in the above links to arm yourselves with information and do your part to reduce antibiotic resistance!

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence, also known as intimate partner violence, happens to women and men. Intimate partner violence includes:

  • physical violence,
  • sexual violence,
  • threats of physical or sexual violence,
  • stalking and
  • emotional or psychological abuse

by a current or former intimate partner. This type of violence can happen to anyone, even if you aren’t sexually intimate. It can range from a single episode of violence to severe episodes over many years.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-838-8238 or the LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline, 1-800-356-6998. If you are not able to call you can text, 804-793-9999. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

Weekly Message – October 15, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

Well, my “Listening Tour” of the Commonwealth got off to a fantastic start in Charlottesville this past week. I hope you all have had a chance to see the news clip from the NBC affiliate in Charlottesville, and there was a good article in the October 12th issue of Charlottesville’s newspaper, The Daily Progress. Some 100 people filled the University of Virginia’s Alumni Hall on October 10th to participate in a Town Hall discussion with me about public health. Earlier in the day, I had a wonderful and enlightening discussion with the staff at the Louisa Health Department, who educated me about the health concerns of the population they serve. Later, in Charlottesville, I had the opportunity to go out on a restaurant inspection.

This coming week, the “Listening Tour” heads to southwest Virginia. On Wednesday, October 17th, I’ll be speaking at UVA Wise, and, on October 18th, I’ll join colleagues from DMAS and DBHDS at an event in Roanoke aimed at increasing provider participation in Medicaid expansion.

One of the major themes I’ll address during the tour is the need to ensure living conditions that promote health and foster well-being, including our most vulnerable populations – rural communities and communities of color. We seek to conduct our efforts to improve population health through a health equity lens. Along those lines, I want to encourage all those who can do so to attend this week’s “Health Equity Conference and Think Tank,” which is our Office of Health Equity’s inaugural national conference. The gathering, entitled “Sowing the Seeds of Health Equity: Growing Healthy, Connected Communities,” will be held October 17-18. Register today!

Finally, October is “Domestic Violence Awareness” month. We’re posting an infographic on our Web site to highlight the need to end domestic and intimate partner violence. Let’s all do what we can to end this violence.

Have a great week!

Norm

(Pronouns: he, his, him)

Rabies Awareness

September 24-September 30 is Rabies Awareness Week in Virginia. Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system, and is most commonly found in wild animals, such as raccoons, foxes and skunks. Virginia’s Rabies Awareness Week centers around World Rabies Day, which falls this year on September 28.

There are many ways you can prevent and control the spread of rabies:

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Keep the vaccinations up-to-date.
  • If your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal, report it to the local health or animal control authorities. Be sure your vaccinated dog, cat, or ferret receives a booster vaccination.
  • Limit the possibility of exposure by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free.
  • Do not leave garbage or pet food outside. It may attract wild or stray animals.
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets. Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to your local animal control department and do not approach it.
  • Contact your local health department if you think you or your pet may have been exposed.