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Meningococcal Disease Outbreak in Florida Expands: CDC

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Meningococcal Disease Outbreak in Florida Expands: CDC

The CDC and Florida Department of Health are investigating a growing meningococcal disease outbreak in Florida, which the CDC called “one of the worst outbreaks” of the disease in U.S. history.

At least 24 cases and seven deaths have been reported, mostly among gay and bisexual men, the agency announced Wednesday. Recent data shows that about half of the cases linked to the outbreak are among Hispanic men.

The number of cases in Florida has surpassed the state’s 5-year average for meningitis. In response, the CDC says that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men should get a meningococcal vaccine if they live in Florida or talk with their doctor about getting the vaccine, known as MenACWY, if they are traveling to Florida.

In Florida, anyone can get a MenACWY vaccine for free at any county health department during the outbreak, the agency said. People should get vaccinated at least 2 weeks before traveling.

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“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” Jose Romero, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in the CDC announcement.

“Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine,” he said.

People living with HIV also face increased risks during this outbreak, the CDC said. The MenACWY vaccine is routinely recommended for all people with HIV in the U.S.

In an unrelated cluster of cases with a different subtype of meningococcal disease, college students face higher risks, the CDC said. Officials say college students in Leon County, FL, should get a different shot – the MenB vaccine series – particularly those who live on campus and those in a fraternity or sorority.

People can find a meningococcal vaccine by contacting their doctor’s office, pharmacy, community health center, or local health department. Insurance providers should pay for vaccination for those who are recommended to receive a shot during the outbreak, the CDC said.

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The CDC also says you should see a health provider right away if symptoms appear, such as a high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, or a dark purple rash. Symptoms can appear as a flu-like illness but “typically worsen very quickly,” the agency said.

People spread meningococcal bacteria through respiratory or throat droplets, like spit. Generally, you can get the disease from close contact, doing things like kissing or being near someone who is coughing, the CDC said.

The disease is caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, which can show up as meningitis, through inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, or septicemia, through infection of the bloodstream. The disease is rare and can be treated with antibiotics when caught early, though it “can be deadly,” the CDC warned.

“Anyone can get the disease, regardless of sexual orientation, age, race,” Sam Crowe, PhD, a CDC epidemiologist, told The New York Times .

New cases are still being reported, he said, and the outbreak is “very much ongoing.”

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“We want to make sure that gay and bisexual men are aware of the deadly outbreak in Florida and how easy it is to protect themselves – namely vaccination,” Crowe said.

SOURCES:

CDC: “CDC Assists with Meningococcal Disease Outbreak Investigation in Florida,” “Meningococcal Disease in Florida, 2022.”

The New York Times: “An Outbreak of Meningococcal Disease in Florida Is Growing, the CDC Says.”

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Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Passage of Keep Kids Fed Act

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Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Passage of Keep Kids Fed Act

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WASHINGTON, June 24, 2022 – “I am pleased to see that Congress has taken action to provide much needed support to help USDA’s child nutrition programs serve nutritious meals to America’s children. Throughout the pandemic, the school nutrition professionals who feed our children faced enormous challenges, which persist today, and they desperately need additional resources and continued flexibilities. The deal passed by Congress will ease some of the uncertainty and provide partial relief to our schools, summer sites and child care feeding programs. As I have said before, it is important to note that schools across the country will still face ongoing challenges and at USDA we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure kids get the nutritious meals they need and deserve.”

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Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Supreme Court Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

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Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Supreme Court Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

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WASHINGTON, June 24, 2022 – “There is no question that today’s Supreme Court decision will have a devastating impact on the health and autonomy of women in America. Yesterday, the right to privacy was secure, with fifty years of precedent behind it. Today, six Supreme Court Justices took that right away for millions, and jeopardized it for all Americans. I’m particularly concerned about what this will mean for women and families in rural America. Yesterday, their health care options were limited. Today, the hurdles they face in accessing reproductive care have grown taller. The Department stands ready to explore the tools at our disposal to support them.”

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470 illnesses and potential liver function issues reports linked to Daily Harvest product

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470 illnesses and potential liver function issues reports linked to Daily Harvest product

Daily Harvest has received approximately 470 reports of illness or adverse reactions to their products, specifically their “French Lentil + Leek Crumbles.”

In response to consumer reports of gastrointestinal illness and potential liver function issues, Daily Harvest has recalled all French Lentil + Leek Crumbles.

From April 28 to June 17, 2022, approximately 28,000 units of the recalled product were distributed to consumers in the United States through online sales and direct delivery, as well as through retail sales at the Daily Harvest store in Chicago, IL, and a “pop-up” store in Los Angeles, CA. 

Samples were also provided to a small number of consumers. Daily Harvest directly notified by email those consumers who were shipped the affected product, and other consumers for whom the company had contact information, and consumers were issued a credit for the recalled product.

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Recalled product:

French Lentil + Leek Crumbles is a frozen product packaged in a 12oz white pouch with the words “Daily Harvest” at the top, a large “CRUMBLES” immediately below the top and the words “French Lentil + Leek” in bold. All lot codes of the French Lentil + Leek Crumbles are affected.

The company says that no other Daily Harvest products are affected or part of this recall.

Consumers who may still have the recalled product in their freezers should immediately dispose of it. 

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here)

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