Monthly Archives: July 2017

Spike in salmonella cases

More than 1,100 people have contracted salmonella poisoning from chickens and ducks so far this year, with health officials pointing to an increase in backyard coops as the cause. At least one of the cases has resulted in death, with nearly 250 others requiring hospital care.

The cases span across 48 states, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the number to be far higher than what’s been reported.

“For one salmonella case we know of in an outbreak, there are up to 30 others that we don’t know about,” CDC veterinarian Megin Nichols said.

Nichols said many people raising chickens don’t understand the potential danger, and treat the birds like pets allowing close contact and access to the family home. But poultry can carry salmonella bacteria in their intestines that can be shed in their feces, which could attach to feathers and dust and brush off on shoes or clothing.

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While salmonella can be prevented with thorough handwashing and discarding shoes used in chicken coops outside, some have taken to snuggling or kissing the birds. Nichols said they view the uptick in cases as a preventable health problem, and that the best way to protect against infection is to assume all birds carry the bacteria.

Salmonella infection is more widely-known as a food-borne illness, with more than 1 million cases and 300 deaths due to contaminated food recorded each year.

There are no firm figures on how many households in the U.S. have backyard chickens, but a Department of Agriculture report in 2013 found a growing number of residents in Denver, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City expressed interest in getting them. Coops are now seen in even the smallest yards and densest urban neighborhoods.

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“I think it’s really important to know where your food comes from, but I do think they need to be educated on how to do it safely,” Dr. Stacene Maroushek, a pediatric infectious disease physician in Minneapolis, told the Associated Press. “There are things growing up as a farm kid you know instinctively, but city people don’t know.”

Salmonella can cause flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea, and can pose a more serious risk in children, pregnant women, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems.

“It gets into their blood and it can get into organs,” Maroushek said. “It can be much more significant in people with underlying health problems.”

Dangers amid spike in abuse calls

Part of his purchases included a brand called “Pure Evil,” which caused him to vomit blood and suffer five grand mal seizures that landed him in the hospital. Donovan was placed in a coma for five days and had no recollection of the events, Fox 9 reported.

“It’s been the worst experience I’ve ever had,” he told the news outlet. “Worst experience I’ve had in my whole life.”

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Donovan was told his kidneys stopped working, and he required physical therapy for his legs due to weakness.

“Think twice,” he told Fox 9. “Think about your family. You can very easily die from it. It’s not something to mess around with.”

His warning comes as the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office reported 50 K2 overdose calls in a span of less than two weeks.

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“Fortunately we have not experienced any deaths due to this recent series of K2 overdoses,” Sheriff Rich Stanek told Eden Prairie News. “The quick actions of first responders and proper medical care at area hospitals has no doubt played a role in making sure these victims are OK. Last year we experienced 153 opioid-related deaths in the county, so it is pretty frightening when you think about more than 50 overdoses occurring in less than two weeks.”

Synthetic marijuana, often marketed as K2, is a hallucinogen that can raise a person’s blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the chemical can cause kidney damage and seizures.

Resident who died during Hurricane Irma

The relatives of Albertina Vega, who was a resident at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, said they were shocked to see the bank withdrawal and subsequent overdraft fee on her account, The Sun Sentinel reported.

Vega, who was 99 at the time of her death, was charged $958 on what would have been her 100th birthday. Carmen Fernandez, a relative, said she saw the charge and fee when she went to close the woman’s account, the news outlet reported.

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“How are they going to charge a dead person?” Fernandez told The Sun Sentinel. “How is she going to pay that? I was enraged. They let her die and then they bill her. This was someone who was like a mother to me.”

Vega was one of the 14 residents who died when the facility’s central air conditioning failed during the hurricane. She was living on the second floor of the nursing home, which did not have air conditioning for three days, the news outlet reported. Hollywood police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement launched an investigation into the deaths, but Fernandez wonders if Medicaid has also been billed for Vega’s care, or if the other victims have received similar bills.

The state’s Agency for Health Care Administration would not comment on the incident, but said the facility was suspended from the Medicaid program in September, according to The Sun Sentinel.

Fernandez said she filed a complaint with the bank manager, while a spokeswoman for the nursing home said the billing was part of an automated system that was beyond the facility’s control.