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Salmonella is a leading cause of bacterial foodborne illness. We report the collaborative investigative efforts of US and Canadian public health officials during the 2013–2014 international outbreak of multiple Salmonella serotype infections linked to sprouted chia seed powder. The investigation included open-ended interviews of ill persons, traceback, product testing, facility inspections, and trace forward. Ninety-four persons infected with outbreak strains from 16 states and four provinces were identified; 21% were hospitalized and none died. Fifty-four (96%) of 56 persons who consumed chia seed powder, reported 13 different brands that traced back to a single Canadian firm, distributed by four US and eight Canadian companies. Laboratory testing yielded outbreak strains from leftover and intact product. Contaminated product was recalled. Although chia seed powder is a novel outbreak vehicle, sprouted seeds are recognized as an important cause of foodborne illness; firms should follow available guidance to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination during sprouting.
Whole apples have not been previously implicated in outbreaks of foodborne bacterial illness. We investigated a nationwide listeriosis outbreak associated with caramel apples. We defined an outbreak-associated case as an infection with one or both of two outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes highly related by whole-genome multilocus sequence typing (wgMLST) from 1 October 2014 to 1 February 2015. Single-interviewer open-ended interviews identified the source. Outbreak-associated cases were compared with non-outbreak-associated cases and traceback and environmental investigations were performed. We identified 35 outbreak-associated cases in 12 states; 34 (97%) were hospitalized and seven (20%) died. Outbreak-associated ill persons were more likely to have eaten commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples (odds ratio 326·7, 95% confidence interval 32·2–3314). Environmental samples from the grower's packing facility and distribution-chain whole apples yielded isolates highly related to outbreak isolates by wgMLST. This outbreak highlights the importance of minimizing produce contamination with L. monocytogenes. Investigators should perform single-interviewer open-ended interviews when a food is not readily identified.
Radar observations are a powerful technique to study near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). Goldstone's 3.75 m resolution capability is invaluable when attempting to image NEAs with diameters smaller than 140 m. The small NEAs are a very diverse population in which we continue to discover unusual objects.
Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne pathogen that can cause bacteraemia, meningitis, and complications during pregnancy. In July 2012, molecular subtyping identified indistinguishable L. monocytogenes isolates from six patients and two samples of different cut and repackaged cheeses. A multistate outbreak investigation was initiated. Initial analyses identified an association between eating soft cheese and outbreak-related illness (odds ratio 17·3, 95% confidence interval 2·0–825·7) but no common brand. Cheese inventory data from locations where patients bought cheese and an additional location where repackaged cheese yielded the outbreak strain were compared to identify cheeses for microbiological sampling. Intact packages of imported ricotta salata yielded the outbreak strain. Fourteen jurisdictions reported 22 cases from March–October 2012, including four deaths and a fetal loss. Six patients ultimately reported eating ricotta salata; another reported eating cheese likely cut with equipment also used for contaminated ricotta salata, and nine more reported eating other cheeses that might also have been cross-contaminated. An FDA import alert and US and international recalls followed. Epidemiology-directed microbiological testing of suspect cheeses helped identify the outbreak source. Cross-contamination of cheese highlights the importance of using validated disinfectant protocols and routine cleaning and sanitizing after cutting each block or wheel.
The 2013 multistate outbreaks contributed to the largest annual number of reported US cases of cyclosporiasis since 1997. In this paper we focus on investigations in Texas. We defined an outbreak-associated case as laboratory-confirmed cyclosporiasis in a person with illness onset between 1 June and 31 August 2013, with no history of international travel in the previous 14 days. Epidemiological, environmental, and traceback investigations were conducted. Of the 631 cases reported in the multistate outbreaks, Texas reported the greatest number of cases, 270 (43%). More than 70 clusters were identified in Texas, four of which were further investigated. One restaurant-associated cluster of 25 case-patients was selected for a case-control study. Consumption of cilantro was most strongly associated with illness on meal date-matched analysis (matched odds ratio 19·8, 95% confidence interval 4·0–∞). All case-patients in the other three clusters investigated also ate cilantro. Traceback investigations converged on three suppliers in Puebla, Mexico. Cilantro was the vehicle of infection in the four clusters investigated; the temporal association of these clusters with the large overall increase in cyclosporiasis cases in Texas suggests cilantro was the vehicle of infection for many other cases. However, the paucity of epidemiological and traceback information does not allow for a conclusive determination; moreover, molecular epidemiological tools for cyclosporiasis that could provide more definitive linkage between case clusters are needed.
Ridgway’s Hawk Buteo ridgwayi is a Critically Endangered forest raptor endemic to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. The species is currently limited to a small area on the north-east coast of the island, with fewer than 110 pairs remaining. From 2005 to 2009 we studied its breeding ecology, finding that Ridgway’s Hawks have a clutch size (2.0 ± 0.4 eggs) similar to other tropical raptors and island Buteo species. Fledging rate of 0.64 fledglings per active nest (fledgling nest-1) with pairs raising a single brood per year was also similar to that of other tropical Buteo species. Nest success was 40% (n = 151), with the majority of nest failures caused by human disturbance. The two significant predictors of nest success and fledging rate were related to human persecution: nest height and territory disturbance index. Pairs were able to tolerate human activity in their territory if there was no direct disturbance to the immediate nest area. Conservation planning for Ridgway’s Hawk must focus on community awareness programmes targeting local user groups within Los Haitises National Park regarding the uniqueness and endangered status of the hawk, and effective protection of the remaining karst forest in Los Haitises.
Patterns of social organization and mating systems have been shown to be functions of ecological factors such as resource allocation and breeding density. In some species, particularly birds, social organization and genetic mating systems differ with molecular studies providing evidence of extra-pair young frequently occurring within broods of socially monogamous species. Here we examine the social and genetic mating system of an ecologically little-known forest raptor endemic to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. From 2005–2009, our field observations of over 60 breeding pairs verified a social mating system of monogamy for the species. During the same time period, we collected blood samples (n = 146 birds, 48 nests) and used microsatellite profiles from 10 loci to estimate genetic relatedness among nestlings in a brood and assign putative fathers. We found no evidence of extra-pair paternity in 41 broods. We had one instance where a social male was not assigned as the putative father, however, the confidence level of this assignment was not significant since the genotypes of the social and assigned males were very similar. Our results support our hypothesis that genetic monogamy would be exhibited by Ridgway's hawk, an island-endemic tropical raptor.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, may help meet a need for accessible and cost-effective treatments for chronic pain. ACT has a growing evidence base, but has not yet been tested within general practice settings.
The purpose of the present study was to examine the feasibility of conducting a full-scale randomized controlled trial of ACT in general practice.
A total of 481 potential participants with chronic pain identified from general practice in southwest England were invited into a treatment trial. Subsequently, 102 (21.2%) of those invited were screened, and 73 (71.6%) of those screened were allocated to ACT plus usual care or usual care alone. The ACT treatment included four, four-hour group-based sessions over two weeks.
Twenty-six (70.3%) of the patients allocated to ACT attended three or four sessions. Those who received ACT rated it as credible in a short survey, with Mdn rating 7.0 on a 0–10 scale, across five credibility items. During a post-treatment interview considering 12 aspects of the study from invitation to treatment termination, a median of 79.2% of participants rated the aspects ‘acceptable.’ Qualitative data from the interviews showed a mixed picture of patient experiences, revealing possible tensions between patients’ wishes to avoid discomfort and confusion, and treatment methods that explicitly ask patients to, in essence, ‘live with’ some discomfort and confusion.
These data suggest that further study of ACT, as a treatment for chronic pain, is feasible in general practice and it may be possible to further optimize the treatment experience.
We performed an Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) to evaluate the impact on non-human
biota from liquid radioactive effluents discharged by the Belgian Nuclear Power Plants
(NPPs) of Doel and Tihange. A deterministic risk assessment for aquatic and terrestrial
ecosystems was performed using the ERICA tool and applying the ERICA screening value of 10
µGy.h-1. The ERA was performed for the radioactive discharge limits and for
the actual releases (maxima and averages over the last 10 years, 1999-2008). All ERICA
reference organisms were considered and depending on the assessment situation, additional
reference organisms were included in the analysis. It can be concluded that the current
discharge limits for the Belgian NPPs do not result in significant risks to the aquatic
and terrestrial environment and that the actual discharges, which are a fraction of the
liquid discharge limits, are unlikely to harm the environment.
Auxinic herbicides, such as 2,4-D and dicamba, that act as plant growth regulators are commonly used for broadleaf weed control in cereal crops (e.g., wheat, barley), grasslands, and noncroplands. If applied at late growth stages, while cereals are developing reproductive parts, the herbicides can reduce seed production. We tested whether growth regulators have this same effect on the invasive annual grass Japanese brome. The herbicides 2,4-D, dicamba, and picloram were applied at typical field use rates to Japanese brome at various growth stages in a greenhouse. Picloram reduced seed production nearly 100% when applied at the internode elongation, boot, or heading stages of growth, whereas dicamba appeared to be slightly less effective and 2,4-D was much less effective. Our results indicate it may be possible to control Japanese brome by using growth regulator herbicides to reduce its seed production, thereby depleting its short-lived seed bank.
Extracts of disomic wheat-barley addition lines were tested for the presence of a barley malt endopeptidase (MEP-1) by employing isoelectric focusing (IEF) and western blotting. The blots were probed with polyclonal antibodies raised against MEP-1 purified from the endosperms of 5-day-old germinated barley seedlings. The endopeptidase was detected in the Betzes barley cultivar and the addition line containing the full genome of the wheat cultivar Chinese Spring plus a chromosome 3 pair from Betzes barley. The endopeptidase was not expressed in Chinese Spring nor the addition lines containing other Betzes chromosome pairs. The endopeptidase was detected in a ditelosomic addition line containing the long arm of Betzes chromosome 3. We have concluded that the gene coding for MEP-1 (Cep-B) is located on the long arm of Betzes chromosome 3.
Eruption of central El Salvador's Ilopango Volcano early in the first millennium A.D. caused death, cultural devastation, and exodus of southern Mesoamericans. It also left a time-stratigraphic marker in western El Salvador and adjacent Guatemala—the Ilopango Tierra Blanca Joven, or TBJ tephra. Mineral suites and major element abundances identify a silicic volcanic ash in cores from Lago de Yojoa, Honduras, as Ilopango TBJ. This extends its reported range more than 150 km to the northeast. Analyses of glass from the TBJ tephra from the Chalchuapa archaeological site, El Salvador, and from Lago de Yojoa, Honduras, establish the first major element reference fingerprint for the TBJ tephra. The Lago de Yojoa cores also hold two previously undated trachyandesitic tephra layers originating from the nearby Lake Yojoa Volcanic Field. One fell shortly before 11,000 14C yr B.P. and the other about 8600 14C yr B.P.
Although it has been confirmed by diamond anvil cell experiments that germanium transforms under hydrostatic pressure from the normal diamond cubic phase (Ge-I) to the metallic β-tin phase (Ge-II) and re-transforms to Ge-III (ST12 structure) or Ge-IV (BC8 structure) during release of the pressure, there are still controversies about whether the same transformations occur during nanoindentation. Here, we present new evidence of indentation-induced phase transformations in germanium. Nanoindentation experiments were performed on a (100) Ge single crystal using two triangular pyramidal indenters with different tip angles - the common Berkovich and the sharper cube-corner. Although the indentation load-displacement curves do not show any of the characteristics of phase transformation that are well-known for silicon, micro-Raman spectroscopy in conjunction with scanning electron microscopy reveals that phase transformations to amorphous and metastable crystalline phases do indeed occur. However, the transformations are observed reproducibly only for the cube-corner indenter.