Test Your Food Safety IQ This September

September Food Safety Education Month www.cdc.gov/foodsafety cdcThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists “Safer and Healthier Foods” as one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.  September is National Food Safety Education Month and National Family Meals Month, and we use this month to celebrate our accomplishments and to educate on the importance of good food safety habits.




Think you know your food safety facts? Take our quiz to find out how much you know!

Question 1: How many Americans get sick each year from foodborne illness?

Answer: It’s estimated that 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick each year! 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.

 Question 2: Which group(s) of people are more likely to get food poisoning or to get seriously ill from it?

Answer: E. All of the above. Learn about why these groups are more at risk on CDC’s website:

CDC- Prevent Food Poisoning (en español: CDC- Prevenga la intoxicación alimentaria)

  1. Children under age 5
  2. Adults age 65 and older
  3. People with weak immune systems
  4. Pregnant women
  5. All of the above


Question 3: Pregnant women are __________ times more likely to get a Listeria infection.

Answer: C. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to get a Listeria infection. Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes

  1. 2
  2. 5
  3. 10
  4. 20


 Question 4: One out of __________ children diagnosed with E. coli O157 infection develops kidney failure.

Answer: B. One out of seven children diagnosed with E. coli O157 infection develops kidney failure. These are life threatening infections that can be prevented. Learn how to protect yourself and your family from E. coli infections here.
  1. 5
  2. 7
  3. 10
  4. 15

Question 5: What are the top 4 contributing factors to outbreaks in restaurants?

Answer: Contributing factors are behaviors, practices, and environmental conditions that lead to outbreaks. Knowing the contributing factors can help us stop outbreaks and prevent future ones.

The top four contributing factors to outbreaks in restaurants are:

  1. Sick food worker contaminates ready-to-eat food through bare-hand contact.
  2. Sick food worker contaminates food through a method other than hand contact, such as with a utensil they contaminated.
  3. Sick food worker contaminates ready-to-eat food through glove-hand contact.
  4. Food handling practices lead to growth of pathogens, such as food not kept cold enough.

Want to learn more food safety tips? Check out My Meal Detective for short videos that will help you learn how to prevent and report foodborne illness. For more information on general food safety, visit the VDH Food Safety page and:

CDC Health Advisory: Rifampin/Penicillin-Resistant Strain of RB51 Brucella Contracted from Consumption of Raw Milk

The Texas Department of State Health Services, with assistance from CDC, is investigating Brucella RB51 exposures and illnesses that may be connected to the purchase and consumption of raw (unpasteurized) milk from K-Bar Dairy in Paradise, Texas. Symptoms of brucellosis can include: fever, sweats, malaise, anorexia, headache, fatigue, muscle & joint pain, and potentially more serious complications (e.g., swelling of heart, liver, or spleen, neurologic symptoms). Read the full CDC Health Advisory.

For More Information
Risks from Unpasteurized Dairy Products
Brucellosis and Expecting Mothers
Raw Milk Questions and Answers

Update: Increase in Human Infections with Novel Asian Lineage Avian Influenza A(H7N9) Viruses During the Fifth Epidemic — China, October 1, 2016–August 7, 2017


What is already known about this topic?

The current Asian lineage avian influenza A(H7N9) virus (Asian H7N9) epidemic in China is the fifth and largest epidemic on record.

What is added by this report?

Human infections with Asian H7N9 virus were reported from more provinces, regions, and municipalities in China during the fifth epidemic than in the previous four epidemics combined. Because of antigenic variation between the Yangtze River Delta lineage viruses, the newly emerged high pathogenic Asian H7N9 viruses, and 2013 candidate vaccine viruses, new candidate vaccine viruses have been produced.

What are the implications for public health practice?

These candidate vaccine viruses, as well as others being developed by other World Health Organization Collaborating Centers for Influenza, could be used for vaccine production, clinical trials, stockpiling, and other pandemic preparedness purposes, based on ongoing public health risk assessment. CDC has partnered with China CDC, and other China government organizations, United Nations organizations, and surrounding countries to enhance surveillance and laboratory capacity to detect and respond to Asian H7N9 in animals and humans.

Read the full MMWR. 

Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia

The annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is among the largest mass gatherings in the world. In 2017, Hajj will take place from approximately August 30 to September 4. Umrah is a similar pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time of the year, but is likely to be more crowded during the month of Ramadan (approximately May 27 to June 24).

Because of the crowds, mass gatherings such as Hajj and Umrah are associated with unique health risks. Before you go, you should visit a travel health specialist for advice, make sure you are up to date on all routine and recommended vaccines, and learn about other health and safety issues that could affect you during your trip.


In advance of this event, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed the attached brief notice regarding Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) testing.  Because of the potential increase in travelers returning from Hajj that may be ill, consider MERS-CoV testing if the person meets CDC’s patient under investigation (PUI) testing guidelines.  CDC also recently updated reporting guidelines for a MERS PUI (EPI-X, July 25, 2017).

Solar Eclipse Safety

Virginia is outside of the path of totality, meaning we will see a partially eclipsed sun.

Scientific background, astronomical phenomenon - full sun eclipse, total solar eclipse

A solar eclipse will occur on August 21, 2017, during which nearly 86 percent of the sun will be blocked out in Virginia.  The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. They allow in too much sunlight.

Virginia is outside of the path of totality, meaning we will see a partially eclipsed sun. Outside the path of totality, you must ALWAYS use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly. Viewing the eclipse through a pinhole viewer is another option, but individuals should carefully follow the instructions for constructing a safe pinhole viewer. NASA also offers a guide for making your own pinhole projector. Children should always be supervised when using solar filters and pinhole projectors.

The CDC and NASA both have recommendations on how to safely enjoy the solar eclipse.  The American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable vendors of solar filters & viewers.

Adults: Vaccines are not just for kids

National Immunization Awareness Month. Adults Need Vaccines, too! Vaccines are not just for kids.

All adults should get vaccines to protect their health. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill and pass diseases on to others. Everyone should have their vaccination needs assessed at their doctor’s office, pharmacy, or other visits with health care providers. Certain vaccines are recommended based on a person’s age, occupation, or health conditions (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart disease).

Vaccination is important because it protects the person receiving the vaccine and helps prevent the spread of disease, especially to those who are most vulnerable to serious complications (such as infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems).


World Breastfeeding Week

Sustaining Breastfeeding together. world breastfeeding week.

August 1-7, 2017 is World Breastfeeding Week.  This year’s theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together.  This year’s theme is about the importance of community and family support in a woman’s effort to breastfeed.  As a collective, family, government, healthcare providers and employers all shift and impact a mother’s experience with breastfeeding.


Breastfeeding provides babies the perfect nutrition, and everything they need for healthy growth and development.  Breastfeeding is good for mom too and reduces her risk for certain cancers.  The commonwealth of Virginia protects the rights of families to breastfeed whenever and wherever baby is hungry.

Babies and Young Children: A healthy start begins with on-time vaccinations.


National Immunization Awareness Month. Vaccines give parents the safe proven power to protect their children. A Healthy Start begins with on-time vaccinations. The first week is focused on babies and young children. Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from 14 serious diseases before they turn 2 years old.

  • Vaccinating your children according to the recommended schedule is one of the best ways you can protect them from 14 harmful and potentially deadly diseases like measles and whooping cough (pertussis) before their second birthday.
  • Children who don’t receive recommended vaccines are at risk of (1) getting the disease or illness and (2) having a severe case of the disease or illness. You can’t predict or know in advance if an unvaccinated child will get a vaccine-preventable disease, nor can you predict or know how severe the illness will be or become.
  • Vaccines don’t just protect your child. Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, health care professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community – especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated themselves.

FDA Investigates Multiple Salmonella Outbreak Strains Linked to Papayas

The FDA is advising consumers not to eat Caribeña brand Maradol papayas because they are linked to an outbreak of salmonellosis. Maradol papayas are green before they ripen and turn yellow, so consumers should not eat Caribeña brand regardless of the color. If anyone has these papayas in their home, they should dispose of them immediately. CDC reports 141 cases, 45 hospitalizations and one death from 19 states in the Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson outbreak . The states involved are CT, DE, IA, IL, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, TX, VA, and WI.

For updated information on this outbreak and associated recalls, please visit VDH’s Food Recalls webpage.