Social Media Helps Pin Down Source of Foodborne Strep Throat Outbreak07/18/13
THURSDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Social media played an
important role in helping identify the source of a foodborne strep
throat outbreak among people who attended a Minnesota high school
dance team banquet, a case report says.
Of the 63 people who attended the banquet, 18 developed strep
throat less than three days later. When multiple posts appeared on
the dance team's Facebook page about ill team members and
relatives, a parent got in touch with the state health
Health officials interviewed about 100 people by telephone,
including those who attended the banquet, people in the homes of
attendees and those who did not attend but ate banquet
Investigators also conducted DNA analysis of strep bacteria
samples taken from the throats of people who became ill. These
steps narrowed the possible source of the outbreak to cooked pasta
served at the banquet, according to the report published online
July 18 in the journal
Clinical Infectious Diseases.
"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," lead author Dr. Sarah Kemble, of the Minnesota Department of Health, said in a journal news release. "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
"Foodborne illness is not limited to diseases that cause vomiting and diarrhea," Kemble noted.
The rapid communication possible among a large group of people
using social media played an important role in the investigation. A
more formalized use of social media for disease surveillance and
outbreak investigations could benefit public health in some cases,
the authors said.
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
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