POSTED ON May 23rd  - POSTED IN AbledAlert
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AbledALERT banner shows clear plastic containers of ground beef stacked on top of each other. A headline over the photo reads: Largest recall in 6 years. The main headline reads: Ground beef recall linked to deadly E.coli 0157:H7 Expands nation-wide.

“This strain of E.coli is one of the most hazardous”

It began days ago with a recall of almost 2 million pounds of ground beef processed at the Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit and sold throughout 12 states. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service has labeled the recall ‘Class 1’ and expanded it to include restaurant distributors across the country making it the largest recall of this strain of E.coli since 2008.

The original recall was prompted by E.coli outbreaks in four states – Michigan, Missouri, Massachusetts and Ohio, that began popping up between April 22 and May 2. The USDA now says contaminated meat may have been shipped to a total of 12 states, so it’s added Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin to the list. The tainted meat was likely sold in stores from the end of March to the beginning of May, making it possible that most of the inventory has been sold off and turning the worry towards affected packages that may be in consumer’s fridges ready to be thawed and grilled for the U.S. Memorial Day weekend.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Class 1 designation is given to “a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death”.

The E.coli 0157:H7 strain is particularly notorius because of the devastating impact it can have. At best, its toxins, especially the Shiga (Vero) toxin, can trigger nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and  bloody diarrhea as they are secreted in the digestive tract.

At worst, children and the elderly can be at risk for anemia, dehydration, renal failure, spontaneous bleeding and organ failure, often leading to permanent disability or death.


Photo shows a white refrigerated panel truck outside one of the loading bays at the Wolverine Packing Company Distribution Plant in Detroit on a sunny day.

 Photo: NY Daily News / Brandy Baker /AP


WASH YOUR HANDS after going to the toilet, especially if you’re in the foodservice industry. E.coli is contagious and is spread from the fecal matter of infected humans and animals. 

THROW OUT FROZEN HAMBURGER if it matches the affected label codes shown in the right hand column of this page. Freezers do not kill E.Coli.

COOK BURGERS TO AN INTERNAL TEMPERATURE OF 160 degrees F. / 71.1 degrees C. which will kill the E.coli bacteria in the meat.

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The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B” and will have a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14.”


Nation-wide, State-wide or Area-Wide Distribution:

Gordon Food Service Marketplace: Stores in FL, IL, IN, KY, MI, OH, PA, TN, WI


1 Surf N Turf Market,  6408 US Hwy 27 S Sebring, FL
2 Giorgio’s Italian Deli, 132 SW Monterey Rd, Stuart, FL


1 Blairsville Seafood Market 121-A Murphy Hwy Blairsville, GA


1 M Sixty Six General Store, 5900 N State Rd, Orleans, MI


1 Bronson’s Super Valu, 201 West Main, Beulah, ND
2 Jason’s Super Foods, 324 Main St, New Town, ND


1 Buchtel Food Mart, 5220 SR 78, Buchtel, OH


1 Quick Stop, 1107 Jackson Love Hwy, Erwin, TN
2 Virginia Market, 540 Loyston Rd., Maynardville, TN
3 Barger Foods, 2616 Eugenia Avenue, Nashville, TN


1 Virginia Heights Travel Store, 1009 N 4th St, Wytheville, VA

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POSTED ON February 16th  - POSTED IN AbledResearch
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AbledResearch Post Link Box shows a microscopic view of heart muscle grown from stem cells. The headline reads: Stem Cells | Heart Disease: Repair Patch. Click here to go to the post.

University of Washington Researchers Use Stem Cells To Re-Muscularize The Heart


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 17 million people around the world die of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) , about 800 thousand people in the United States die of heart disease and stroke every year, accounting for 1 out of every 4 deaths.  


Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle are working hard to change that statistic for the better. Here’s a report on their progress anchored by Jean Enersen of KING5 News in Seattle:

BACKGROUND: Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States and has become one of the most serious public health issues facing Americans. It is a broad term which refers to a variety of related heart conditions, including heart attack, ischemic stroke, and heart failure. The disease kills 600,000 people each year, which is about one out of every four deaths. The most common type of heart disease is called coronary artery disease. It occurs when cholesterol deposits, called plaque, build up in your arteries, causing them to narrow or become blocked. The narrowing or blockage can lead to heart attack, heart failure, or arrhythmia. Once any of these occur, the heart has a difficult time rebuilding its strength.

(Click for Source)

CAUSES: Heart disease is the result of a variety of factors, some of which are out of your control. These include age (82 percent of those who died from coronary artery disease were over the age of 65), gender (males are at a higher risk for having heart attacks, and at earlier ages than women), and genetics (those with a family history of heart problems are much more likely to develop other risk factors). But there are some factors you can control. These include weight, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

(Click for Source)


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Researchers at the Murry Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle, are now researching the ability of embryonic stem cells to treat the effects of heart disease. Embryonic stem cells have the ability to turn into any kind of cell in the body. So researchers have been able to use these cells to create beating heart cells outside of the body. These cells could one day be injected into the heart, and could essentially act as a Band-Aid, covering the parts of the heart injured by a heart attack. The cells would be able to re-muscularize the heart, which it cannot do by itself. These cells would be used in an effort to prevent heart failure in patients who have had a heart attack. Currently, the stem cell treatment has only been performed on mice, guinea pigs, rats, and non-human primates. Doctors believe it will be 4 years until human trials.

(Source: Dr. Charles Murry


Chuck Murry, MD, PhD, Professor of Pathology, Bioengineering and Medicine/Cardiology, Murry Lab, UW Medicine, talks about a new procedure that is healing hearts with patches. 


What got you interested in heart patches?

Dr. Murry: I’ve been working on stem cell approaches to repair the heart for the better part of 15 years now.  I sort of grew up with this field, it was a radical notion when we first proposed it in the 1990’s and now it’s positively mainstream.

So, what are you developing with heart patches?   

Dr. Murray: Our goal is to somehow harness stem cells in such a way that they can make the heart heal better after a patient has a heart attack or a myocardial infarction.  Usually, the heart is very poor at self-repair.  It’s one of the least regenerative organs in the body and so it heals by scar formation rather than growing back new muscle.  So, our idea is to try to use stem cells in such a way that we can actually re-muscularize the heart after it’s become injured in some way. In doing so, we hope to keep patients from developing heart failure after they have a heart attack, for example. 

We have been working with a variety of different types of stems cells. The ones that work best in our hands are the most primitive ones, either the embryonic stem cells or the reprogrammed type. By taking lessons from embryological development, we’ve learned how to turn these cells into essentially infinite numbers of beating human heart muscle.

So, we can grow petri dishes full of beating heart muscle and then we’ve learned how to transplant those into the hearts of injured animals where we can get them to form grafts of human heart muscle in these animal hearts.  One of the things that we’ve learned is that this can keep the animals from developing heart failure after a heart attack. It’s  like growing back parts of your heart that you lost due to disease.  

How does this differ from using the stem cells to make new arteries that go into your heart? 

Dr. Murray: People are trying to do different aspects of treating cardiovascular disease.  The number one cause of heart attacks is disease of the blood vessel and one of the things that the surgeons always lament is that we don’t have good enough vessels to use as coronary bypass grafts.

So, one of the things that people in tissue engineering want to do is to be able to grow new blood vessels that would be the right size to use as a graft for a patient with coronary artery disease, for example.  So, we’re one step downstream of that.  We’re not trying to grow the new big pipes to the muscle; we’re trying to grow the muscle itself; the stuff that’s been lost downstream when a patient has vascular disease.  

Is it really like making a patch for damaged parts of your heart?  

Dr. Murray: We’re doing this in a couple of different ways.  The area that we are furthest along is using a suspension of cells that we literally just inject into the damaged wall of the heart with a needle and syringe. Remarkably, the cells are smarter than the people who are working with them, and they know how to make tissue. 

So, they start out as a suspension, but then they start to self-organize and the muscle cells will connect with other muscle cells and start to form muscle tissue within the damaged region of the heart.  We’ve also shown that if we include blood vessel cells, and there are these blood vessel cells will form a vascular network. 

They self-assemble into capillaries so the vessel cells talk to the vessel cells and the muscle cells talk to the muscle cells and nature sorts a lot of this out for us.  So, we get a break from Mother Nature in that regard.  So, that’s the first approach; just taking a suspension of cells and delivering it to the wall of the heart. 

A more complicated, but potentially more powerful approach that we are working on is the heart patch approach where we are building a chunk of three dimensional human heart muscles in a dish. We can make this variety of shapes and sizes.  The limitation really gets to be how you get nutrients to the stuff.  Unless you have flow going through it, it can only grow so big and then it otherwise just diffusion from the outside is limiting for it. 

However, we can grow decent size chunks of human heart muscle. I could grow something as big as my thumb nail, for example, in a patch and then we can take these patches and attach them to the surface of the heart, kind of like a muscular Band-Aid.  We are working on strategies to get this to connect up and get integrated so that it will beat in synchrony with the surrounding heart muscle.  

What kind of patient would benefit the most from this?  

Dr. Murray: There are a number of patients who might be able to benefit from re-muscularization kind of stem cell therapy.  The first patient that we’d think about is somebody who has had a recent heart attack or recent myocardial infarction.  And I think what we might be able to do for them is the easiest because those are the patients who have not yet developed heart failure. So prevention is always easier than cure. If we can prevent somebody from going into heart failure after they have had a heart attack, that would be our first and foremost goal.

Now, with that, would you inject it into the heart? 

Dr. Murray: That is where we are going to start.  We are going to start by injecting cells directly into the wall of the heart in patients who have had relatively recent myocardial infarctions.  

How fast do these things grow?  

Dr. Murray: They grow really fast in the dish, when they are in the unspecialized or undifferentiated state.  They grow like crazy.  They’re immortal and we can grow them up by the vat full.  When they turn into heart muscle, their division slows way down and after we transplant them in, we get a few more rounds of cell division, which helps a lot to repopulate the damaged region and then they slow down.  One of the concerns initially was what if we grew a tumor in the heart of a patient.  We would never want to take some poor patient who had had a myocardial infarction and then give them an uncontrolled tumor growth, but the work that we’ve done to date suggests that’s really not a problem.  We’ve been able to control the cells well enough that if we could get them committed to being muscle as opposed to being unspecialized, they behave pretty well once we transplant them in.  

So, this has not been in patients?

Dr. Murray: This has not been in patients.  

How would you transplant them in?

Dr. Murray: Let me back up because the work that we are doing with embryonic stem cells and pluripotent stem cells have not been in patients yet, but people have been putting different cell populations into human hearts for the better part of a decade now.  

I haven’t heard of pluripotent stem cells.  What are they? 

Dr. Murray: Pluripotent means you can turn into basically any cell type within the body. 

Where do you get them?  

Dr. Murray: There are two basic flavors of pluripotent stem cells; one is the embryonic stem cell and that’s the one that’s famous and somewhat controversial because embryos have to be destroyed in order to generate the cells.  More recently, scientists have learned how to take adult cells from skin; we can take cells from blood; and we can take cells that you slough off into your urine from the lining of your bladder and we can reprogram them back to sort of a ground state, to a very primitive stem cell state and then these cells once reprogramed can go into virtually any cell type in the body.  So, we’ve set the clock back to zero basically and we can take any new set of directions we want going forward. So, I think 5, 10 years down the road, this is going to be an extremely useful technology for regenerative medicine.  

So, you just have a heart attack and you inject this into the heart. In your theory, how long until it actually helps the heart?   

Dr. Murray: What we have found is, at least in our animal models, so far, the benefits are very soon.  What happens when a patient has a heart attack is their cardiac function starts to go down fairly rapidly.  And what we’ve found is that when we transplant these stem cell graphs into the heart, within days these two curves start to diverge.  The control heart function goes worse and worse; the ones we’ve just put a placebo or a vehicle into.  The ones that we’ve put our human cardiac muscle cell grafts into, they arrest the decline and sometimes they start to go back up to actually regain the function that they’ve lost.  

Does it continue to go up?   

Dr. Murray: It continues to go up for a while and then it plateaus and we’ve not yet gotten it back all the way, so this is all still a work in progress.  We’ve not gotten it back to where they were before they had the heart attack.  

If everything keeps going on the path, when do you think like human trials?

Dr. Murray: We are looking to do a first in human clinical trial in probably 4 years. 

Would you take the stem cells directly from the patient?

Dr. Murray: Down the road, we would love to be able to take stem cells from the patient, grow them up, and put them back into the patient.  The biggest advantage to doing something like that would be that they would be recognized as self by the immune system.  If we take cells from someone else, or from an embryonic stem cell source, the immune system is going to see this.

That means it will probably be from another person or so called allogeneic cells, probably the immune system will recognize them and we’ll have to give the patients drugs to suppress their immune system initially to make them tolerate the cells.  So, it will be like regular transplant medicine where you do hearts and kidneys and things like that where patients have to have some type of immunosuppression.  

Alright, what’s next for this? 

Dr. Murray: Well, the next thing is to get this working in larger animals that we think will be predictive of the human response.  We’ve made this work in mice.  We’ve made it work in rats.  We’ve made it work in guinea pigs.  Now, we are starting to work in nonhuman primates and it looks promising, but it’s still the early days. 


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POSTED ON February 13th  - POSTED IN AbledAlert

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AbledALERT photo from shows a white dump truck with a snowplow scaper on its front end clearing a roadway in Charlotte, North Carolina during a heavy snowfall while a pedestrian in a red parka walks with -take-out coffees in hand along the snow-covered sidewalk. An SUV can be seen in the hazy distance driving with its lights on. AP photo by Chuck Barton.

AbledALERT Banner reads Winter Storm PAX - UPDATE

UPDATE: Friday 5PM ET | 100M Affected By Winter Storm Pax From Texas To New England


  • Over 800K Homes & Businesses Without Power At Peak – Down to 470K By Afternoon
  • Pax Paralyzes Air/Rail/Road Travel | Over 7,100 Flights Canceled
  • Over 20 Inches of Snow And A Foot Of Ice In Some Areas
  • At Least 25 Deaths Blamed On Winter Storm Pax
  • More Snow On The Way 


While 21 states deal with the impact of Winter Storm Pax, another system right behind it will be bringing more snow to eastern states and the Ohio Valley right through the weekend.


For many people in the affected areas, Valentine’s Day will either be a stay-at-home affair or postponed until the storm blows over.


We’ve compiled information on storm survival, including how to keep your food and medicine supplies safe if the power goes out.  First, here’s a look at the impact of Winter Storm Pax condensed into 60 seconds by CNN:

Almost Half A Million Homes & Businesses Without Power – Cars Abandoned On Highways
As of Wednesday, February 12, the second wave of Winter Storm Pax has been blasting the southern and eastern regions of the United States with freezing rain, sleet and snow forcing commuters into gridlock, off the roads or to abandon their cars on the sides of some highways.


Once people were able to make it home, many found they had become one of the more than 400 thousand customers without power across the affected regions. Air commuters didn’t fare any better – over 3,000 flights were cancelled across the country, with many more cancellations expected on Thursday.


With at least 13 deaths being blamed on the storm, forecasters maintained their dire warnings that some areas could experience catastrophic conditions for some time as Pax tears into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. The following ominous tweet from the National Weather Service warned against underestimating how bad things will get.


AbledALERT screengrab of a tweet from the National Weather Service in Columbia, South Carolina reads: Don't be fooled by remaining light precipitation. Freezing drizzle and rain likely overnight will ice all surfaces. Roads are treacherous.


Here’s a look at how the initial ice storm looked in the south in 60 seconds courtesy of CNN:

AbledALERT Banner reads Winter Storm PAX - FOOD SAFETY

From the USDA and FSIS


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations for the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states affected by severe winter weather moving across the country.

Weather forecasts predict power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food. FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events.

The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage.

FSIS will provide relevant food safety information as the storm progresses from its Twitter feed @USDAFoodSafety. To get tweets about weather-related food safety issues affecting just your state, follow @GA_FSISAlert@NC_FSISAlert and @SC_FSISAlert.


Steps to follow if the power goes out:


  • Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit in around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes so don’t overfill the containers.
  • Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
  • Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
  • Avoid putting food outside in ice or snow, unless it’s in a closed cooler, because it attracts wild animals or could thaw when the sun comes out.
  • Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
  • Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.
  • Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.


Steps to follow after a weather emergency:


  • Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
  • Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
  • Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.
  • Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.


Videos detailing food safety information are available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language on FSIS’ YouTube channel,


An FSIS Public Service Announcement (PSA) illustrating practical food safety recommendations for handling and consuming foods stored in refrigerators and freezers during and after a power outage is available in 30- and 60-second versions at

News organizations and power companies can obtain hard copy (Beta and DVD) versions of the PSA by contacting FSIS’ Food Safety Education Staff at (301) 344-4757.


Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at  or on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in English and Spanish on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. 

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Tips For Rx And Personal Health Safety


  • Make someone aware if you have a health or special needs condition if you are evacuated or if you go to a shelter or community center.
  • Insulin for diabetics and some other liquid medications require cooling. Check the safe temperature range on the packing and keep it in a closed refrigerator.
  • If the power goes out, monitor the temperature in the fridge with a thermometer and place medications requiring cooling next to ice packs or cold water in plastic zip bags. Lunch bags with a cool pack can also be used.
  • Check regularly to make sure the medication doesn’t freeze.
  • Diabetics should keep a supply of snacks on-hand.
  • Keep a one month supply of prescription medications on-hand during storm seasons.

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During Winter Storms and Extreme Cold


  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.


If The Power Goes Out


  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. TextSHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.


If Stranded In A Vehicle


  • Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
  • Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful; distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.
  • Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
  • Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
  • Eat regularly and drink ample fluids to avoid dehydration, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs – the use of lights, heat, and radio – with supply.
  • Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
  • If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane.
  • Leave the car and proceed on foot – if necessary – once the blizzard passes.

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POSTED ON December 21st  - POSTED IN AbledHealth
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AbledHealth Post Banner shows a background photo of an industrial poultry shed with thousands of broiler chickens crowded together. In the foreground are two screengrabs - one of the website showing their story The High Costs of Cheap Chicken with a photo of a package of raw chicken breasts with yellow tape wrapped around it and the word caution printed twice. The other is the cover of the PEW Report on the Weaknesses in the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service's Salmonella Regulation. It features a photo of packages of poultry products in a grocery store display. The headline reads: Salmonella Poisoning: Two reports slam poultry safety - One finds 97 per cent infection rate.

US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service Is Failing To Protect The Public


Two new reports shine a scathing spotlight on serious failures in protecting the U.S. public from food contamination. Consumer Reports and The Pew Charitable Trusts have exposed serious shortcomings in regulating, monitoring and controlling contamination in poultry products.


The reports were prompted by two multi-state outbreaks of the so-called Heidelberg strain of salmonella infections that, since June 2012, have sickened at least 523 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico and put 40 percent of them in the hospital, as covered in our AbledALERT report on the outbreaks.


The outbreaks were linked to chicken produced by Foster Farms, the sixth largest poultry producer in the United States. Based on these figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they estimate these outbreaks may have sickened as many as 15,000 people across the country because of the under-diagnosis of salmonella.


Consumer Reports Magazine exposed even more shocking facts: 97% of the 300 raw chicken breasts they tested that were purchased at stores across the country tested positive for bacterial infection. More than half of them contained fecal contaminants, while about 50% harbored at least one bacterium that was resistant to three or more commonly prescribed antibiotics.



Antibiotic-­resistant infections are linked to at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, and more than 48 million people fall sick each year from eating contaminated food. According to an analysis of outbreaks from 1998 through 2008 by the CDC, more deaths were attributed to poultry than to any other commodity.


What to do about the problem?


The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Health Initiatives division found significant weaknesses in existing federal regulations and policies aimed at controlling salmonella contamination in poultry products. As their report points out, “

Current limits on salmonella contamination for chicken, known as performance standards, and related policies do not adequately protect public health.


  • As opposed to other pathogens such as Ecoli O157:H7, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) does not consider salmonella to be an adulterant in raw poultry, but treats it as an indicator organism used to determine whether a company is producing safe food based on the level of salmonella found.
  • Performance standards, which are not updated regularly, are based on the national prevalence of the pathogen in a specific product instead of public health impact.
  • There are no salmonella performance standards for chicken parts, which are purchased more widely than whole chickens.
  • As part of prevention-based safety requirements, poultry plants are not required to treat the presence of salmonella as a “hazard likely to occur”, or a significant risk that needs to be controlled during processing and production.
  • There are no requirements for farm-level control measures that would help reduce salmonella contamination in chickens before they arrive at slaughter facilities.


Among the recommendations from the Pew Charitable Trusts report:


  • Issue performance standards for chicken parts.
  • Conduct unannounced salmonella testing.
  • Consider establishing limits on salmonella contamination for chickens when they enter into the slaughterhouse, which may require legislation.
  • Communicate outbreaks to consumers via public health alerts as early as possible when there is sufficient epidemiological evidence linking illnesses to a company’s product, even if there is not a definitive link between specific products and patients.
  • Close facilities under investigation for failing to produce safe food, and keep them closed until adequate control measures are in place.
  • Be given mandatory recall authority.


As the Pew report was being finalized in December 2013, FSIS released a salmonella action plan highlighting the steps the agency is taking to better control the pathogen in meat and poultry.


In official speak, “The FSIS Administrator established the Strategic Performance Working Group (SPWG) to perform recurring critical reviews of the information and data will allow the agency to identify deficiencies and successes that warrant particular attention.”


Much of the action plan calls for reviewing and evaluating the growing amount of so-called ‘performance ‘ information and data available to establish new strategies and rules for poultry ‘pre-harvest’ and slaughter practices, inspections, sampling, and enforcement.


Some new information that comes out of the action plan as a result of reviewing agency data is contained in one of the footnotes: “Outbreak data indicate that pork products contribute to Salmonella illnesses. FSIS stopped sampling pork carcasses because the percent of pork carcass samples positive for Salmonella was consistently very low. Pork products are not currently sampled for Salmonella testing.”


Another piece of information emerging from the data is that “research results from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), indicate that lymph nodes could be a source of Salmonella contamination.”


What’s curious is that it appears ARS is just clueing into this fact, despite relevant data from 65 years ago showing the possible connection.


A paper published in 1948 by Utrecht’s Rijksinstituut voor de Volksgezondheid (National Institute for Public Health) in the Netherlands documents cases of Salmonella being reported in the mesenteric lymph nodes of health pigs in countries such as the United States, England, Uruguay and other parts of South America, as well as Mexico.


In fact, the paper shows that the Heidelberg strain of Salmonella that’s been leaving people sick across the U.S. since the summer of 2012, was only showing up in Mexico in 1948.


The Dutch study examined 503 slaughtered pigs that did not have any reports of health problems, and found that 14 out of the 503 pics (2.78%) showed the presence of Salmonella in the mesenteric lymph nodes. There was no trace of the bacteria in the feces of the animals, with the report saying such a result doesn’t preclude an infection of the lymph nodes from the intestinal tract.


How to keep safe when preparing poultry


With the Christmas holiday feasts approaching, how can you limit your chances of salmonella contamination if you’re roasting a turkey or chicken?


The USDA outlines the following advice:


Fresh or Frozen?

Fresh Turkeys

  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Buy your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.
  • Keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.
  • Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly.


Frozen Turkeys

  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Keep frozen until you’re ready to thaw it.
  • Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however, cook within 1 year for best quality.
  • See “Thawing Your Turkey” for thawing instructions.


Frozen Pre-Stuffed Turkeys

USDA recommends only buying frozen pre-stuffed turkeys that display the USDA or State mark of inspection on the packaging. These turkeys are safe because they have been processed under controlled conditions.

Image of seal of inspection for poultryDO NOT THAW before cooking. Cook from the frozen state. Follow package directions for proper handling and cooking.

Allow 1¼ pounds of turkey per person.

Thawing Your Turkey

There are three ways to thaw your turkey safely — in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven.

In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days

Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.

In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound
4 to 12 pounds 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds 10 to 12 hours

Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.

In the Microwave Oven

  • Check your owner’s manual for the size turkey that will fit in your microwave oven, the minutes per pound and power level to use for thawing.
  • Remove all outside wrapping.
  • Place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak.
  • Cook your turkey immediately. Do not refreeze or refrigerate your turkey after thawing in the microwave oven.

REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.

Roasting Your Turkey

  • Set your oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.

  • Place your turkey or turkey breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.

  • For optimum safety, stuffing a turkey is not recommended. For more even cooking, it is recommended you cook your stuffing outside the bird in a casserole. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F  (73.8 °C ).

  • If you choose to stuff your turkey, the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time; however, keep wet and dry ingredients separate. Chill all of the wet ingredients (butter/margarine, cooked celery and onions, broth, etc.). Mix wet and dry ingredients just before filling the turkey cavities. Fill the cavities loosely. Cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.

  • A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F  (73.8 °C ) as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures.

  • If your turkey has a “pop-up” temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F  (73.8 °C ) for safety.

  • For quality, let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set. The turkey will carve more easily.

  • Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavities.

Timetables for Turkey Roasting
(325 °F oven temperature)

Use the timetables below to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing.

4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours


4 to 6 pounds (breast) Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast) 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours

It is safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet packages during the cooking time. Remove carefully with tongs or a fork.

Optional Cooking Hints

  • Tuck wing tips under the shoulders of the bird for more even cooking. This is referred to as “akimbo.”

  • Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan.

  • If your roasting pan does not have a lid, you may place a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the turkey for the first 1 to 1 ½ hours. This allows for maximum heat circulation, keeps the turkey moist, and reduces oven splatter. To prevent over-browning, foil may also be placed over the turkey after it reaches the desired color.

  • If using an oven-proof food thermometer, place it in the turkey at the start of the cooking cycle. It will allow you to check the internal temperature of the turkey while it is cooking. For turkey breasts, place thermometer in the thickest part. For whole turkeys, place in the thickest part of the inner thigh. Once the thigh has reached 165 °F  (73.8 °C ), check the wing and the thickest part of the breast to ensure the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F  (73.8 °C ) throughout the product.

  • If using an oven cooking bag, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the package.

REMEMBER! Always wash hands, utensils, the sink, and anything else that comes in contact with raw turkey and its juices with soap and water.

For information on other methods for cooking a turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)

Storing Your Leftovers

  • Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F (32.2 °C).
  • Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.
  • Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within 3 to 4 days.
  • If freezing leftovers, use within 2 to 6 months for best quality.




AbledFood Turkey Tip


A member of our Editorial staff had great success by cooking a 13.5 lbs (6.1 kg.) fresh turkey at 400°F (204 °C) and it was perfectly browned and very juicy and tender in 3 hours.


When preparing, spray with olive oil and over with foil.  Remove the foil for the last half hour or so – but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.


Pour a cup of water in the bottom of the roasting pan to keep it from drying out, and to blend with the juices for gravy; replenish as needed.


Make sure the meat thermometer reads 165 °F  (73.8 °C ) – your cooking time may be more or less depending on your type of oven. Then, enjoy!



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POSTED ON December 11th  - POSTED IN AbledNews
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AbledNews post banner with the headline: H7N9 Bird flu: Mutation makes it resistant to first-line treatments like Tamiflu. A photograph by flickr user M M (Padmanaba01) shows to women working in a stall at a chicken market in Xining, Qingai province China. There are cages of brownish-red hens and white roosters all crowded together and a table laid out with processed chicken meat in unsanitary conditions.

Researchers recommend doctors avoid using common first-line drugs like Tamiflu which could help build resistance 


In April of this year, researchers in China discovered the first examples that the Influenza A (H7N9) ‘bird flu’ virus had the ability to mutate and develop resistance to oseltamivir, more commonly know as Tamiflu.


Now a separate team of researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York has confirmed it and published their results in the journal Nature Communications.


Nicole Bouvier, who led the team, emphasized there is no cause for alarm . . . yet, saying, “these H7N9 viruses seem to transmit fairly inefficiently overall”.


Photo shows greyscale photo of the H7N9 strain of the Influenza A virus as seen under an electron microscope taken at the U.S. Centers For Disease Control, showing the filaments and spheres of the virus that look like a string of pearls.

 Photo of the H7N9 strain of Influenza A as seen under an electron microscope. Source: CDC


For their study, Bouvier’s team worked with a mutated version of the H7N9 virus which was sampled from an infected patient in China to assess its resistance to drugs and how infectious it was before and after treatment.


They found it highly resistant to Tamiflu, and that it was still infectious. In fact, it infected  human cells in a laboratory dish, and spread between laboratory animals just as efficiently as a non-mutated virus.


“This is unusual, as it is known that when seasonal influenza viruses gain resistance to drugs, it usually happens at a cost to the virus – the cost being a reduced ability to transmit between hosts and to grow within them,” they wrote.


The researchers make a point of saying that while this doesn’t make it any more likely that H7N9 will develop into a global human pandemic, it does mean doctors should be cautious with their use of anti-viral medicines to treat H7N9 cases, and should evaluate using drugs other than Tamiflu, such as GlaxoSmithKline‘s Relenza.


A different team of researchers in the United States counters that it’s not impossible that H7N9 could eventually become easily transmissible between humans, but it would have to undergo multiple mutations first.


Nevertheless, scientists around the world are on alert for any signs that the virus is developing that ability.


You can follow our ongoing coverage of the spread of the H7N9 virus here.


The Latest H7N9 Stats To Date:


A map of Asia from the World Health Organization shows the locations of confirmed cases of H7N9 infection as of the 25th of October, 2013. The map also details the progression of cases from the beginning of the year with 4 cases and 3 deaths in february; 33 cases and 18 deaths in March; 94 cases and 23 deaths in April; 2 cases in May; no cases or deaths in June; 2 cases and 1 death in July; no cases or deaths in August or September; 2 cases in October for a total to date of 137 cases and 45 deaths.


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POSTED ON October 15th  - POSTED IN AbledIssues
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Split-screen photo shows the lawn of the National Mall with the Capitol building in the distance with a sign in the foreground stating, 'Because of the Federal Government SHUTDOWN, All National Parks Are Closed'. The photo on the right shows a similar sign on a portable gate on the driveway at the Lincoln Memorial.


Tracking the impact of the shutdown on those who are most in need


After a little over two weeks of a back-and-firth game of political ‘chicken’, U.S. President Barrack Obama moved quickly to sign an 11th hour deal passed by Congress to end the partial government shutdown and rescue the world’s largest economy from the brink of an unprecedented debt default.

The House of representatives voted 285-144 to end the stalemate after the Senate voted 81-18 to end the political standoff. President Obama signed the bill into law just just a half-hour after midnight eastern time. Federal workers returned to work later that same Thursday.



On CBS’ ‘Face The Nation‘, host Bob Schieffer says it’s not just federal workers who have been hurt by the political games in Washington:



Two weeks into the U.S. Federal Government shutdown, the political stalemate continues, and as more time goes by, more services risk being reduced or halted altogether.

It’s been particularly tough on communities and people reliant on tourism because of the closure of national parks, although the federal government is now giving state governments the option of using their own funds to cover park operations.

Let’s take you through the categories that affect our general health and welfare and give you a status report on whether they are being impacted:


Food Safety

Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have furloughed much of their staff, but claim they can handle recalls and food-borne outbreaks that are high risk.

However, the CDC had to re-call many of those employees to deal with the salmonella outbreak in raw chicken that has sickened as many as 317 people in 20 states and Puerto Rico and put 42% of them in the hospital.

Read more in our AbledALERTTM ongoing coverage of the outbreak.


In this photo from NPR/AP, Former Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer dressed in white sanitation overalls, hairnet, glovers and safety glasses with a coral red helmet,  follows the work of USDA inspectors at a Cargill meat packing plant in Schuyler, Nebraska in 2008.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is required, by law, to have meat inspectors on the processing lines in meatpacking plants every day in order for the plants to remain open – and, so far, those inspections are proceeding as usual.



Medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been affected, delaying some studies. Usually, about 200 new patients enroll every week in studies at the NIH research hospital, but because of the government shutdown, that has been halted. They have made an exception to allow 12 patients with immediate life-threatening illnesses into clinical trials.

The CDC’s tracking ability for disease outbreaks, such as the flu or the MERS virus from the Middle East has been severely limited.


This 2005 photograph depicts one of the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) staff microbiologists using an electronic pipetter to extract reconstructed 1918 Pandemic Influenza Virus from a calibrated vial containing a supernatant culture medium. The image was captured in a Biosafety Level 3-enhanced laboratory setting, where this scientist was working beneath a flow hood, whereupon, air outside the hood is pulled into the hood’s confines and is then filtered of any pathogens before being re-circulated inside the self contained laboratory atmosphere.


The FDA has halted the evaluation and approval process for pharmaceutical drugs and medical products.



If the government shutdown drags-on into November, $6 billion worth of checks won’t go out, and that will be a double-blow to the 33% of Veteran’s Affairs employees who are veterans themselves.


A photo shows the Department of Veterans' Affairs Hospital in Palo Alto, California with a curved caramel brick and glass facade set into the middle of diagonal rectangular lighter sandstone colored wings.


Inpatient and outpatient care at hospitals and Vet centers is still being provided because the Congressional funding for it is approved a year in advance. But efforts to reduce the backlog in disability claims have stalled because overtime for claims processors has been cut-off, and compensation and pension payments will be halted if the shutdown rolls into late October.

When the government shutdown began, it halted the authority of the Defense Department to pay the typical $100 thousand death gratuities to the survivors of fallen U.S. Armed Forces members killed in action. That cash payment is usually made within three days of the service member’s passing. 

The Defense Department had a Plan B in the form of contracting with the Fisher House Foundation, which supports military families, to provide the $100 thousand payments for the duration of the government shutdown, pending repayment. But a few days later, President  Barack Obama signed legislation that Congress had passed to resume the payments, while the politicians were left fighting among themselves over who to blame for the interruption of the payments.


Social Benefits

Medicare and Social Security benefits are being paid out. Unemployment benefits continue to be paid. However, there could be delays in processing new disability applications.

The biggest immediate area of concern is for nine million moms and babies at risk because the $7 billion dollar Special Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children – known simply as ‘WIC’ – was expected to run out of money. Some states have stopped accepting new participants.


A screen grab from the USDA's website shows information about the WIC program at a glance. Click on the photo to go to the USDA website.



The the USDA has announced it is reallocating funding to cover WIC costs for the remainder of the month. WIC provides formula and breastfeeding support, as well as nutrition education for mothers and children across the country in co-ordination with state Departments of Health.


Graphic design shows the logo of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which features a green bag full of groceries, such as a milk carton, egg carton, bread,fruit and vegetables in solid colors in stencil form next to the words that make up the acronym SNAP.

On the morning of Saturday, October 12th, recipients of federal food stamps in several states, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and some WIC recipients were blocked from being able to use their payment cards and tokens when a computer failure caused a system shutdown in the network provided by subcontractor Xerox.

A Xerox representative said the glitch, which occurred during a test of back-up systems, was fixed by Saturday night.




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POSTED ON October 15th  - POSTED IN AbledAlert
AbledALert Banner with the alert signal for Outbreak highlighted.
AbledALERT-Outbreak-USA Post link banner shows a package of Foster Farms chicken with an arrow pointing to the meat processing plant code with the text: Salmonella In Chicken: 360+ sickened in over 20 States. Click here to go to the story.

Photo shows packages of Foster Farms chicken in a refrigerated display cooler in an Oregon grocery store with sheets of paper detailing safe handling instructions lying on the edge of the display. Photo credit: Lynne Terry - The Oregonian


Consumer Reports outraged USDA hasn’t recalled contaminated chicken


UPDATE:  As of October 29th, the CDC report a total of 362 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 21 states and Puerto Rico.

  • 38% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
  • Most ill persons (74%) have been reported from California.


The Salmonella outbreak traced to Foster Farms chickens has spread to at least 317 cases in 20 states and Puerto Rico.

This is the second outbreak traced to Foster Farms chicken in a year, though, as Lynne Terry reports in The Oregonian, Oregon health authorities have been tracking a strain of Salmonella Heidelberg associated with the company’s products since 2003, and notified both the USDA and Foster Farms a decade ago.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the DNA fingerprints of the SalmonellaHeidelberg bacteria associated with the current outbreak include the strain that was also associated with a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farms brand chicken during 2012-2013.


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


UPDATE: Consumer Reports says the Salmonella outbreak isn’t limited to Foster Farms. Other brands that have had poultry products processed at the same three Foster Farms plants include Eating Right, Kirkland Signature, O Organics, Open Nature, Ralphs, Safeway Farms, and Simple Truth Organic.


 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


So far, Consumer Reports has heard of only one grocery company—Kroger—that says it is removing all raw chicken products processed at the implicated plants from their family of stores. Those include Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers/City Market, Ralphs, Food 4 Less (West Coast), Smith’s (southern Nevada and New Mexico), and QFC.

However, it’s been confirmed that a Costco store in South San Francisco has issued a recall of about 40,000 pounds of rotisserie chicken products sold between September 11th and September 23rd that were processed at the Foster Farms plants tied to the Salmonella outbreak.

At least one person was sickened by one of the chain’s roasted chickens, prompting Costco to recall 8,730 Kirkland Signature Foster Farms rotisserie chickens and 313 units of Kirkland Farm rotisserie chicken soup, rotisserie chicken leg quarters and rotisserie chicken salad.

The Costco store at 1600 El Camino Road contacted 7,807 customers who had bought one or more of the recalled products. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Foster Farms have assured consumers that poultry contaminated with salmonella is safe to eat so long as it’s cooked to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the bacteria.

Costco says its rotisserie chicken is cooked to at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit and suggests it may have been an uncommon cross-contamination issue. Costco is currently carrying new batches of Foster Farms chicken.

Outrage is growing that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allowing the three plants, where it’s thought the contamination originated, to continue operating after coming up with a food safety plan following tests of whole chickens and chicken parts that turned up a 25% incidence rate of Salmonellamore than double the nearly 10% allowed


A Consumer Reports photo shows a close-up of a Foster Farms pricing label on a package of chicken with the P-6137a designation showing that it came from one of the three California processing plants suspected in the Salmonella outbreak.Expressing ‘disappointment’ with the USDA, Consumer Reports said the agency could have seized the Salmonella-tainted chicken and issue a recall, but didn’t. Their main concern is that this contamination is caused by an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella and they are urging consumers to throw out any packages of raw poultry with the following establishment numbers inside the USDA mark of inspection:









CDC Map of Salmonella Outbreak


AbledALERT: Centers for DIsease Control map of Salmonella outbreak in 20 states and Puerto Rico shows the states on a map of the U.S. with various shades of green showing the range of cases in each state: The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alaska (2), Arkansas (1), Arizona (13), California (232), Colorado (4), Connecticut (1), Florida (4), Idaho (2), Kentucky (1), Michigan (2), Missouri (5), North Carolina (1), Nevada (9), New Mexico (2), Oregon (8), Puerto Rico (1), Texas (9), Utah (2), Virginia (2), Washington (15), and Wisconsin (1).


In its last update on Friday, October 11, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the following details:


  • The outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics. This antibiotic resistance may be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals


  • 42% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported


  • Most ill persons (73%) have been reported from California where the chicken was processed


  • Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections


  • On October 7, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) issued a Public Health AlertExternal Web Site Icon due to concerns that illness caused by Salmonella Heidelberg is associated with chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California.


Normally, we would be getting daily updates from the CDC, however, because of the U.S. Government shutdown, about 70% of its staff has been furloughed.

Visit this page often for ongoing updates as we continue to track the spread of this outbreak. In the meantime here are some additional links on general information about Salmonella food-borne infection:


Salmonella Infections (NIH MedlinePlus)
Trusted health information on causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

Salmonella (CDC)
General information plus details on previous outbreaks.

Salmonella and Salmonellosis (USDA)
General information plus directives and notices, compliance guidelines, data collection and reports, and more.

Salmonella (FDA)
From the Bad Bug Book; provides basic facts, including associated foods, frequency of disease, complications, and target populations.

AbledALERT Story summary contains the text: Salmonella Outbreak, 317 sick in 20 states + Puerto Rico. Discard poultry products with plant codes: P-6137, P-6137A, P-7632


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Salmonella & Food Poisoning Facts


Salmonella, the name of a group of bacteria, is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the United States. Usually, symptoms last 4-7 days and most people get better without treatment.


But, Salmonella can cause more serious illness in older adults, infants, and persons with chronic diseases. Salmonella is killed by cooking and pasteurization.

  • Food: Contaminated eggs, poultry, meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, cheese, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables (alfalfa sprouts, melons), spices, and nuts.


  • Animals & their environment:
  • Particularly reptiles (snakes, turtles, lizards), amphibians (frogs), birds (baby chicks) and pet food and treats.
Incubation Period 12-72 hours
Symptoms Diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting
Duration of Illness 4-7 days
What Do I Do? Drink plenty of fluids and get rest. If you cannot drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration or if your symptoms are severe, call your doctor. Antibiotics may be necessary if the infection spreads from the intestines to the blood stream.
How Can I Prevent It?
  • Avoid eating high-risk foods, including raw or lightly cooked eggs, undercooked ground beef or poultry, and unpasteurized milk


  • Keep food properly refrigerated before cooking.


  • Clean hands with soap and warm water before handling food. Clean surfaces before preparing food on them.


  • Separate cooked foods from ready-to-eat foods. Do not use utensils on cooked foods that were previously used on raw foods and do not place cooked foods on plates where raw foods once were unless it has been cleaned thoroughly.


  • Cook foods to a safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to a safe temperature.


  • Chill foods promptly after serving and when transporting from one place to another.


  • Wash your hand after contact with animals, their food or treats, or their living environment.




Long-Term Effects of Food-Borne Illness

One in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. That’s about 48 million people. Most of them will recover without any lasting effects from their illness. For some, however, the effects can be devastating and even deadly.

Here are some serious effects associated with several common types of food poisoning.

Kidney failure

Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) is a serious illness that usually occurs when an infection in the digestive system produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, causing kidney injury. HUS may occur after infection with some kinds of E. coli bacteria.

HUS is most common in children. In fact, it is the most common cause of acute kidney failure in children.

Chronic arthritis

A small number of persons with Shigella or Salmonella infection develop pain in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. This is called reactive arthritis. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is difficult to treat. Persons with Campylobacter infections may also develop chronic arthritis.

Brain and nerve damage

Listeria infection can lead to meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain. If a newborn infant is infected with Listeria, long-term consequences may include mental retardation, seizures, paralysis, blindness, or deafness.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a disorder that affects the nerves of the body. This occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the body’s own nerves. It can result in paralysis that lasts several weeks and usually requires intensive care.  As many as 40 percent of Guillain-Barré syndrome cases in this country may be triggered by an infection with Campylobacter.


In the United States, approximately 3,000 people die each year of illnesses associated with food poisoning. Five types of organisms account for 88 percent of the deaths for which the cause is known:SalmonellaToxoplasmaListerianorovirus, and Campylobacter.

Other types of foodborne illness may cause death as well. For example, some Vibrio infections (usually associated with eating raw shellfish) may infect the bloodstream and cause a severe, life-threatening illness. About half of these infections are fatal, and death can occur within two days.

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AbledNews: Special Report: Tracking the new killer viruses

POSTED ON June 29th  - POSTED IN AbledNews
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AbledNews Special Repoprt: tracking the new killer viruses-MERS and H7N9 Bird FLu - image shows a cluster of the coronavirus stained green against a brownish red background as seen under a micrscope


Epidemiologists around the world are tracking a pair of new viruses that are leaving a deadly toll


The U.S. government has declared a public health emergency over a recently discovered coronavirus that originated in Saudi Arabia that is, so far, carrying a more than 50 percent mortality rate. It’s called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The U.S. emergency designation came to facilitate the quicker release of tests designed to track it.

Most cases of MERS have clustered in Saudi Arabia, but have also been tracked to Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Travelers have carried the infection to Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the U.K.

Doctors don’t know where the virus originated but suspect an animal, such as a bat. The big fear associated with this virus is that it’s similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus that infected over 8,000 people and killed almost 800 of them in 37 countries in 2003.

It was also thought to have originated in bats, which are a natural reservoir for a coronavirus, and it was thought that the infection spread to humans either directly or through other animals such as the masked palm civets found in China’s Guangdong Province.

However, MERS may prove to be five-times more deadly than SARS. Most people infected with MERS-CoV develop severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. So far, about half of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness.

Men wearing surgical masks as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus, speak at a hospital in Khobar city in Dammam May 23, 2013. Saudi Arabia has announced another death from the SARS-like novel coronavirus (nCoV) in its central al-Qassim region, bringing the total number of deaths in the kingdom to 17. REUTERS/Stringer


MERS UPDATE as of July 11, 2013: From the World Health Organization (WHO) 

The Ministry of Health (MoH) in Saudi Arabia has announced an additional laboratory-confirmed case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in the country.

The patient is a 66 year-old man from Asir region with an underlying health condition. He is currently in critical but stable condition.

In addition, a Qatari patient earlier confirmed with MERS-CoV infection, who was being treated in the United Kingdom died on 28 June 2013.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 81 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 45 deaths.

Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns.


H7N9 Bird Flu

H7N9 is a sub-type of an avian influenza A virus that was discovered in China in March of this year. This strain has infected over 130 people and killed 37 of them, which gives it a mortality rate, after adjustments for missing data, of around 36, percent which is much less deadly that the H5N1 virus that killed about 70 percent of infected persons.

However, researchers warn against complacency; the World Health Organization said H7N9 appeared to spread much faster than the previous H5N1 virus and called it ‘one of the most lethal influenza viruses’ it had ever seen.

The infection rate subsided after China shutdown many of its live animal markets, but scientists warn the real threat is yet to come towards the end of the year when the annual flu season picks up.

Photo of two women working at the chicken market in Xining, China surrounded by cages full of chickens


H7N9 UPDATE: First Human to Human Transmission Reported

The British Medical Journal, now know simply as BMJ, is reporting what’s believed to be the first documented case of human to human transmission of the H7N9 bird flu.

This all occurred between March and May of this year, but is only just now coming to light.  According to BMJ, a 60 year old man in eastern China who frequently visited live poultry markets developed a fever and cough about five to six days after his last exposure to the birds and was taken to the hospital on March 11.

His condition quickly worsened and he was transferred to Intensive Care on March 15. His 32-year-old daughter, who was said to have been in previously good condition, tended to his oral care and cleaning while in the hospital and did not wear any protective masks or clothing.

She developed symptoms of H7N9 six days after her last contact with her father and was admitted to the hospital on March 24, transferred to ICU on March 28 and died of multi-system organ failure on April 24.

Her father also died in the ICU of multi-system organ failure on May 4 after developing deteriorating pulmonary function. 

The encouraging news from this report is that many other people who were exposed to these two patients did not get sick, leading medical officials to theorize that, at least as far as the current data shows, H7N9 may only be capable of limited transmission, but that may also be the result of warmer temperatures in the affected region and the closing of some bird markets in those regions.

The true test of this will be later this year when the annual flu season arrives.


Global Influenza Update From The World Health Organization


Global Influenza Map from the World health Organization as of July 5, 2013. The current statistics follow in the text below.



• As of 5 July, a total of 133 cases of H7N9 have been reported from China (132 from China’s National Health Family and Commission, and 1 from Taipei Centers for Disease Control) including 43 deaths.

• Influenza activity in the northern hemisphere temperate zones remained at inter-seasonal levels.

• In most regions of tropical Asia influenza activity decreased, except for Sri Lanka and Viet Nam where influenza A activity remained relatively high. 

• In Central America and the Caribbean, influenza activity remained low or similar compared to previous weeks, except in Cuba and the Dominican Republic where high influenza activity was reported and in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama, where influenza activity began to increase.

• Influenza activity in the southern hemisphere increased considerably in South America and in Southern Africa but remained low in Oceania. In South America, respiratory syncytial virus remained the predominant circulating virus, but the proportion of influenza positive viruses continued to increase. 




A CDC Scientist harvests H7N9 virus that has been grown for sharing with partner laboratories for research purposes.


We’ve compiled FAQs on both viruses from the Centers For Disease Control to give you some quick reference answers on the respective outbreaks and what you can do to be more ‘abled’ in reducing or preventing your exposure to them, as well as treatment options if you aren’t able to avoid them.





What is MERS?

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness. MERS is caused by a coronavirus called “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV).

What is MERS-CoV?

MERS-CoV is a beta coronavirus. It was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. MERS-CoV used to be called “novel coronavirus,” or “nCoV”. It is different from other coronaviruses that have been found in people before.

How was the name selected?

The Coronavirus Study Group (CSG) of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) decided in May 2013 to call the novel coronavirus “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV)  [1.7 MB, 5 pages].

Is MERS-CoV the same as the SARS virus?

No. MERS-CoV is not the same coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. However, like the SARS virus, MERS-CoV is most similar to coronaviruses found in bats. CDC is still learning about MERS.

What are the symptoms of MERS?

Most people who got infected with MERS-CoV developed severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About half of them died. Some people were reported as having a mild respiratory illness.

Does MERS-CoV spread from person to person?

MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. Clusters of cases in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UK, France, Tunisia, and Italy are being investigated.

Is CDC concerned?

Yes, CDC is concerned about MERS-CoV. The virus has caused severe illness in most infected people, and about half of them have died. Also, the virus spreads from person to person and has spread between countries. CDC recognizes the potential for the virus to spread further and cause more cases and clusters globally, including in the United States.

Has anyone in the United States gotten infected?

So far, there are no reports of anyone in the United States getting infected with MERS-CoV.

What is CDC doing about MERS?

CDC works 24/7 to protect people’s health. It is the job of CDC to be concerned and move quickly whenever there is a potential public health problem. CDC is closely monitoring the MERS situation and working with WHO and other partners to understand the risks of this virus. CDC is engaged in the following ways:

  • CDC developed molecular diagnostics that will allow scientists to accurately identify MERS cases. CDC also developed assays to detect MERS-CoV antibodies. These lab tests will help scientists tell whether a person is, or has been, infected with MERS-CoV. CDC will evaluate genetic sequences as they are available, which will help scientists further describe the characteristics of MERS-CoV.
  • As part of routine public health preparedness in the United States, CDC is providing MERS-CoV testing kits to state health departments. CDC is also updating guidance for public health departments, healthcare providers, and laboratories.
  • CDC is offering recommendations to travelers when needed. CDC is also helping to assess ill travelers returning from affected areas.
  • In addition, CDC participated in international public health investigations of past MERS cases in Saudi Arabia (October 2012) and Jordan (May 2013). CDC continues to provide advice and laboratory diagnostic support to countries in the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding region.

Can I still travel to countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries where MERS cases have occurred?

Yes. WHO and CDC have not issued travel health warnings for any country related to MERS.

For more information, see CDC’s travel notice on A Novel Coronavirus Called “MERS-CoV” in the Arabian Peninsula.

What if I recently traveled to countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries and got sick?

If you develop a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after traveling from countries in the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries(1), you should see your healthcare provider and mention your recent travel.

How can I help protect myself?

CDC advises that people follow these tips to help prevent respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, or sharing cups or eating utensils, with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

Is there a vaccine?

No, but CDC is discussing with partners the possibility of developing one.

What are the treatments?

There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by MERS-CoV. Medical care is supportive and to help relieve symptoms.

Is there a lab test?

Lab tests (polymerase chain reaction or PCR) for MERS-CoV are available at state health departments, CDC, and some international labs. Otherwise, MERS-CoV tests are not routinely available. There are a limited number of commercial tests available, but these are not FDA-approved.

What should healthcare providers and health departments do?

For recommendations and guidance on the case definitions; infection control, including personal protective equipment guidance; case investigation; and specimen collection and shipment, see Update, Case Definitions, & Guidance.



Countries in the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring countries: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen.

Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Viral Diseases




What is H7N9?

“H7N9” is the designation for one subtype of influenza viruses that is sometimes found in birds, but that does not normally infect humans. Like all influenza A viruses, there also are different strains of H7N9. Beginning at the end of March 2013, China reported human and bird (poultry) infections with a new strain of H7N9 that is very different from previously seen H7N9 viruses.

Is this new strain of H7N9 infecting humans?

Yes. While H7N9 viruses had never before been detected in people, from March 31 through April 30, 2013, China reported more than 126 cases of human infection with this new H7N9 virus.

How are people getting infected?

This virus has been found in birds (poultry) in China in some of the same areas where human infections have happened. Available evidence suggests that most people have been infected with the virus after having contact with infected poultry or contaminated environments.

How do people get infected with bird flu viruses?

Human infections with bird flu viruses are rare, but have happened in the past, usually after close contact with infected birds (both live and dead) or environments contaminated with bird flu virus.

Infected birds can shed a lot of flu virus, for example, in their droppings or their mucus. If someone touches an infected bird or an environment contaminated with virus and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth, they may be infected with bird flu virus. There is some evidence that infection may also occur if the flu virus becomes airborne somehow, such as when an infected bird flaps it wings. If someone were to breathe in airborne virus, it’s possible they could get infected.

Is infection with this virus serious?

Most of the reported cases of human infection with this virus have had very serious illness. There also are reports of some milder illness and one possible report of a person who tested positive for the virus who did not have any symptoms.

What are the symptoms of illness with this virus?

Symptoms have started with high fever and cough. A lot of the cases have progressed to very serious illness, including severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), septic shock and multi-organ failure leading to death.

Is this virus spreading from person-to-person?

Chinese health authorities are investigating this situation very carefully. They are following up on close contacts of infected people to find out if they have gotten infected. This is important to find out whether there has been person-to-person spread of this virus. So far, hundreds of close contacts have been checked and there has not been any evidence of ongoing spread of this virus from person-to-person.

Is it possible that this virus will spread from person-to-person?

Yes. Based on what we know about human infections with other bird flu viruses, it’s possible and even likely that there will be some limited person-to-person spread with this virus. The important factor will be to determine whether this virus gains the ability to spread easily from one person to another. Sustainable human to human spread is needed for a pandemic to start. Health officials are watching the situation closely for this.

Is there a vaccine to protect against this new H7N9 virus?

No, right now there is no vaccine to protect against this virus. CDC and others are working to develop a vaccine candidate virus that could be used to make a vaccine if it is needed.

Are there medicines to treat illness associated with this virus?

CDC recommends oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®) for treatment of H7N9. Most of the H7N9 viruses that have been studied are likely susceptible (sensitive) to the two influenza antiviral drugs that are used to treat seasonal flu. Those drugs are oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®) (neuraminidase inhibitors). Like seasonal influenza viruses, avian A(H7N9) viruses are resistant to the influenza antiviral drugs known as the adamantanes.

It’s important to note that influenza viruses may acquire genetic changes which can make one or more influenza antiviral drugs less effective. This happens with seasonal influenza viruses and could happen with H7N9 viruses found in China. As new H7N9 virus isolates are received, CDC will conduct ongoing testing to determine the susceptibility of other H7N9 viruses to existing antiviral drugs. More information about antiviral resistance is available at Influenza Antiviral Drug Resistance: Questions & Answers.

What is the risk from this virus in the United States right now?

No cases of human or bird infection with this H7N9 virus have been detected in the United States. At this time, the risk to people in the United States is considered to be low.

Is it possible that human cases of H7N9 flu will be found in the United States?

Yes. The most likely scenario for this right now would be H7N9 infection in a traveler from China. Many people travel between China and the United States. CDC issued a health alert for public health officials and clinicians in the United States to be on the look-out for flu symptoms in travelers who are returning from countries with bird flu. CDC has issued guidance for isolating, testing, and treating such patients. However, since this virus does not seem to be spreading easily from person-to-person, a few cases in the United States with travel links to China would not change the risk of infection for the general public in the United States.

How are H7N9 virus infections diagnosed in people?

There are currently no tests available over the counter or at a doctor’s office that can quickly detect and distinguish between the H7N9 virus and other flu viruses. However, a more sophisticated test that specifically detects H7N9 virus has been developed by CDC for use by qualified public health laboratories in the United States and internationally. This test involves collecting a respiratory tract (i.e., nose, throat, lung) sample from a sick patient. The sample is then sent to a public health laboratory where a procedure known as rRT-PCR (real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction) is conducted. rRT-PCR is very accurate and sensitive at detecting flu viruses. This procedure typically provides results within 4 hours; however, the time involved in processing and reporting results may vary depending on the laboratory.

Does CDC recommend that people delay or cancel trips to China because of H7N9 flu?

Since H7N9 is not spreading easily from person-to-person at this time, CDC does not recommend that people delay or cancel trips to China. The World Health Organization also is watching this situation closely and does not recommend any travel restrictions.

What advice does CDC have for people traveling to China?

CDC advises travelers to China to take some common sense precautions, like not touching birds or other animals and washing hands often. Poultry and poultry products should be fully cooked. CDC will update its advice for travelers if the situation in China changes. This guidance is available at Avian Flu (H7N9) in China.

Should travelers to China get a prescription for antivirals before their trip?

At this time, CDC does not recommend prescribing antiviral drugs for prevention or self-treatment of H7N9 flu. CDC recommends that travelers to China follow common sense precautions to protect themselves and monitor their health during and after their trip. Anyone with fever, coughing, or shortness of breath within 10 days of traveling to China should see a doctor and tell the doctor about the recent travel to China.

What does CDC advise for people in the United States with regard to H7N9?

CDC does not have any new or special recommendations for the U.S. public at this time regarding H7N9.

Is CDC worried that an H7N9 pandemic will start?

This is a serious public health situation and it’s possible that a pandemic could start if this virus were to change to spread easily between people. CDC is preparing for that possibility.

What is CDC doing in response to H7N9?

CDC is following this situation closely and coordinating with domestic and international partners, including China CDC and the World Health Organization. On April 8, 2013 CDC activated the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) at Level 2 (limited activation) to support the management of the emerging H7N9 situation in China. CDC also is sending a team to China to support the domestic outbreak response.

In addition, CDC is taking routine preparedness measures, including:

  • Developing a candidate vaccine virus that could be used to make vaccine if it becomes necessary.
  • Distributing a new test kit developed by CDC that can detect this virus and which can be used by other public health laboratories.
  • Conducting animal studies to learn more about the severity of disease associated with this virus and how the virus spreads.
  • Conducting studies on blood samples to see whether there is any existing immunity to this virus in the population.
  • Conducting ongoing testing to determine H7N9 susceptibility to the licensed influenza antiviral drugs, oseltamivir (commercially known as Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®) as well as investigational antiviral drugs.
  • CDC also is gathering more information to make a more thorough public health risk assessment. This is an evolving situation and there is still much to learn.

Content sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)

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