Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Social media, DNA typing help identify source of foodborne strep outbreak

Date:
July 18, 2013
Source:
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Summary:
Facebook posts helped alert public health officials to a strep throat outbreak among a high school dance team in 2012, and DNA fingerprinting led investigators to pasta prepared by a previously ill parent as the likely source. Although strep throat, or Group A Streptococcus pharyngitis, usually spreads from person to person by droplets, foodborne transmission is possible.

Facebook posts helped alert public health officials to a strep throat outbreak among a high school dance team in 2012, and DNA fingerprinting led investigators to pasta prepared by a previously ill parent as the likely source. Although strep throat, or Group A Streptococcus (GAS) pharyngitis, usually spreads from person to person by droplets, foodborne transmission is possible, as a report published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases found. The most common form of GAS illness is strep throat, but some cases can have more severe consequences.

Among 63 people who consumed food at a Minnesota high school dance team banquet, 18 came down with strep throat less than three days later. When multiple posts soon appeared on the team's Facebook page about ill dance team members and relatives, a parent contacted the state health department.

After interviewing approximately 100 people by telephone -- those who attended the banquet, household contacts of attendees, and those who did not attend but ate banquet leftovers -- and conducting DNA typing of bacterial strains isolated from those who became ill, lead report author Sarah Kemble, MD, and her team of investigators at the Minnesota Department of Health narrowed the possible source of the outbreak to cooked pasta served at the banquet.

The DNA fingerprints of the strep bacteria isolated from the throats of those who became ill matched those of the bacteria identified in the pasta. In addition, one person who became ill and did not attend the banquet, but who ate some of the leftover pasta brought home by family members who did attend, helped confirm how the bacteria was transmitted. This person had a laboratory-confirmed GAS infection that matched the same DNA fingerprint pattern. No one else in the household had symptoms of strep throat, and throat swabs on all the other household members were negative for the bacteria.

"We suspect cooked food was contaminated by respiratory droplets from a person who carried the strep bacteria in the throat when the food was cooling or reheating," Dr. Kemble said. "The food probably was not kept hot or cold enough to stop bacterial growth." Both the parent who prepared the pasta and a child in the same household reported having strep throat three weeks before the banquet."Foodborne illness is not limited to diseases that cause vomiting and diarrhea," Dr. Kemble noted.

The rapid communication possible within a large group using online social media played an important role in bringing this outbreak to the attention of a parent, who then contacted the health department, Dr. Kemble said. A more formalized use of social media for disease surveillance and outbreak investigations may have the potential to benefit public health in some circumstances, the authors noted.

Tips for Reducing the Spread of Foodborne Illness

  • Do not prepare food for others if you are ill, especially if you are experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, or have a respiratory infection and are coughing or sneezing. If you are receiving treatment for an illness, ask your doctor how long you should wait after treatment before preparing food for others.
  • When preparing food in large batches (e.g., for large groups of people), ensure the food is kept hot or cold. Disease-causing bacteria grow best in the "temperature danger zone" of 41 F to 140 F.
  • Use a thermometer to ensure that food items are meeting proper temperature requirements.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Infectious Diseases Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sarah K. Kemble, Amy Westbrook, Ruth Lynfield, April Bogard, Nicole Koktavy, Kelly Gall, Victoria Lappi, Aaron S. DeVries, Edward Kaplan, and Kirk E. Smith. Foodborne Outbreak of Group A Streptococcus Pharyngitis Associated With a High School Dance Team Banquet—Minnesota, 2012. Clin Infect Dis., July 17, 2013 DOI: 10.1093/cid/cit359

Cite This Page:

Infectious Diseases Society of America. "Social media, DNA typing help identify source of foodborne strep outbreak." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130718101240.htm>.
Infectious Diseases Society of America. (2013, July 18). Social media, DNA typing help identify source of foodborne strep outbreak. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130718101240.htm
Infectious Diseases Society of America. "Social media, DNA typing help identify source of foodborne strep outbreak." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130718101240.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins