Oyster Harvesting Closed Along Portions of Texas Coast
October 29, 2015
The Texas Department of State Health Services announced today that commercial and recreational oyster harvesting in most areas of Texas coastal waters will be closed on Nov. 1 due to excessive rainfall or red tide, depending on the area. Normally, the public can harvest oysters from Nov. 1 through April 30.
Christmas Bay and certain areas of Galveston Bay will be open for oyster harvesting on Nov. 1. All other areas along the coast will be closed to commercial and recreational harvesting of oysters, clams and mussels until further notice.
Red tide has been detected along the Texas coastline from Matagorda Bay to South Padre Island. Elevated or excessive rainfall has also contributed to the closure of oyster harvesting in some of these areas and in portions of Galveston Bay.
DSHS is advising people not to harvest and eat oysters, clams, mussels or whelks taken from these waters. While visual signs of red tide have not been seen lately in some areas, the toxin produced by the red tide algae can remain in the edible tissue of shellfish for several weeks to several months. The toxins can cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, or NSP, in humans who consume them. NSP symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, dilated pupils and tingling sensations in the extremities.
Oysters taken from waters closed due to elevated or excessive rainfall can be contaminated with bacteria and viruses and consuming them can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Oysters being sold in the current market place are not affected. The warning does not apply to other types of seafood such as shrimp, finfish, crabs or to commercial seafood products from other states or countries.
DSHS will continue testing in the closed areas and will open areas to harvesting when it is safe to do so. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also has authority to close areas to oyster harvesting based on oyster size and availability. To determine the current status of shellfish harvesting areas call the DSHS 24-hour harvesting information line, 1-800-685-0361, for updates. Harvesters are encouraged to get shellfish harvesting maps from the nearest Texas Parks and Wildlife Department office or DSHS at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/shellfish-harvest-maps.aspx.
Se cierran partes de la costa de Texas a la pesca del ostión
29 de octubre de 2015
El Departamento Estatal de Servicios de Salud de Texas anunció hoy el cierre a la pesca comercial y recreativa del ostión en la mayoría de las áreas litorales de Texas a partir del 1 de noviembre debido al exceso de lluvia o a la presencia de marea roja, dependiendo del área. Normalmente, el público puede pescar ostión del 1 de noviembre al 30 de abril.
La Bahía de Navidad (Christmas Bay) y ciertas áreas de la Bahía de Galveston estarán abiertas a la pesca del ostión a partir del 1 de noviembre. Todas las demás áreas a lo largo de la costa estarán cerradas a la pesca comercial y recreativa del ostión, la almeja y el mejillón hasta nuevo aviso.
Se ha detectado marea roja a lo largo de la costa de Texas desde la Bahía de Matagorda hasta la Isla del Padre Sur. Las lluvias abundantes o excesivas también han contribuido al cierre de la pesca del ostión en algunas de estas áreas y en algunas partes de la Bahía de Galveston.
El DSHS aconseja a la gente que no pesque ni coma ostión, almeja, mejillón ni buccino de estas aguas. Si bien últimamente no se han detectado señales visuales de marea roja en algunas áreas, la toxina producida por las algas de la marea roja puede permanecer en el tejido comestible de los mariscos desde varias semanas a varios meses. Estas toxinas pueden causar intoxicación neurotóxica por mariscos, o NSP, en los humanos que los consumen. Los síntomas de NSP pueden incluir náusea, mareo, pupilas dilatadas y sensación de hormigueo en las extremidades.
El ostión obtenido de la pesca en aguas que hayan sido cerradas debido a la lluvia abundante o excesiva puede estar contaminado con bacterias y virus, y su consumo puede provocar síntomas gastrointestinales como diarrea, vómito y dolor abdominal.
Los ostiones que están a la venta habitualmente en el mercado no están afectados. La advertencia no se aplica a otros tipos de productos de mar como el camarón, el pescado, el cangrejo o los productos de mar comerciales de otros estados o países.
El DSHS seguirá analizando el agua en las áreas cerradas e irá abriendo áreas a la pesca cuando ello no represente ningún riesgo. El Departamento de Parques y Vida Silvestre de Texas también tiene autoridad para cerrar áreas a la pesca del ostión con base en el tamaño y la disponibilidad de este marisco. Para determinar el estado actual de las áreas de pesca de mariscos llame a la línea telefónica del DSHS: 1-800-685-0361, la cual le ofrece información actualizada las 24 horas del día sobre la pesca. Se anima a los pescadores a que obtengan los mapas de pesca de mariscos en la oficina más cercana del Departamento de Parques y Vida Silvestre de Texas, o del sitio web del DSHS: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/shellfish-harvest-maps.aspx.
Back to School Food Safety Tips for Parents and Caregivers
August 19, 2015, 2015
Back to school, back to the books, back shuttling students to and from extracurricular activities. The new school year likely means back to packing lunches and afterschool snacks for students, scouts, athletes, dancers, and all the other children who carry these items to and from home. One "back" you do not want to reacquaint children with, however, is foodborne bacteria.
Bacteria that cause foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In this temperature range, these microorganisms can multiply to dangerous levels in just two hours, increasing the risk of foodborne illness. To make sure lunches and snacks are safe for those for whom you pack, you should follow the USDA’s four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
- If the lunch/snack contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two cold sources. Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly, so perishable food transported without an ice source will not stay safe long.
- Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze these items overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack. By lunchtime, the liquid should be thawed and ready to drink.
- Pack lunches containing perishable food in an insulated lunchbox or soft-sided lunch bag. Perishable food can be unsafe to eat by lunchtime if packed in a paper bag.
- If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot at 140 °F or above.
- If packing a child’s lunch the night before, parents should leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because everything will be refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.
- If you’re responsible for packing snacks for the team, troop, or group, keep perishable foods in a cooler with ice or cold packs until snack time. Pack snacks in individual bags or containers, rather than having children share food from one serving dish.
- If possible, a child's lunch should be stored in a refrigerator or cooler with ice upon arrival. Leave the lid of the lunchbox or bag open in the fridge so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.
Eating and Disposal Tips
- Pack disposable wipes for washing hands before and after eating.
- After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.
Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices at http://www.foodsafety.gov/, by following @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter, and by liking Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov. Consumers with questions about food safety, can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.
Kroger Recalls Four Seasonings Due to Possible Health Risk
July 25, 2015
The Kroger Co. said today it is recalling Kroger Ground Cinnamon, Kroger Garlic Powder, Kroger Coarse Ground Black Pepper and Kroger Bac'n Buds sold in its retail stores due to possible contamination from Salmonella.
A sample of Kroger Garlic Powder from a store in North Augusta, South Carolina was tested by the FDA and found to be contaminated with Salmonella. To date, no illnesses have been reported in connection with these products. Out of an abundance of caution, the company has recalled all four seasonings produced on the same equipment in the same facility.
Stores under the following names in the 31 states where Kroger operates are included in this recall: Kroger, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Foods Co., Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, City Market, Smith's, Dillons, Baker's, Gerbes, Jay C, Ruler Foods, Pay Less, Owen's, and Scott's.
Kroger has removed the potentially affected items from store shelves and initiated its customer recall notification system that alerts customers who may have purchased recalled Class 1 products through register receipt tape messages and phone calls.
Kroger is recalling the following items having the following product, UPC codes and size:
Kroger Ground Cinnamon 1111070034 Sell by: May 19 18PS4 18.3 ozKroger Garlic Powder 1111070039 Sell by: May 18 17PS4 24.7 ozKroger Coarse Ground Black Pepper 1111070041 Sell by: May 18 18PS4Sell by: May 19 18PS4 17.1 ozKroger Bac'n Buds 1111070025 Sell by: May 20 18PS4 12.0 oz
Customers who have purchased the above products should not consume them and should return them to a store for a full refund or replacement.
Customers who have questions may contact Kroger at 1-800-KROGERS.
Health Related Precautions Due to Heavy Rain and Flooding
June 15, 2015
The City of Pasadena Health Department has issued the linked health related precautions for citizens to ensure their safety during and after heavy rains and flooding.
Texas Reports Year’s First West Nile Case
May 21, 2015
The Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting the state’s first case of West Nile illness this year and reminding people how to protect themselves from the mosquito-borne virus that causes it.
A patient in Harris County has been diagnosed with West Nile neuroinvasive disease, the more serious form of illness. DSHS won’t release additional personal details in order to protect the patient’s identity. To reduce the chances of a mosquito bite that can transmit West Nile virus, people should
- Use an approved insect repellent every time they go outside and follow the instructions on the label. Among the EPA-approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus/para-menthane-diol.
- Regularly drain standing water, including water collecting in empty cans, tires, buckets, clogged rain gutters and saucers under potted plants. Mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus breed in stagnant water.
- Wear long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
“Up to 80 percent of people who contract the virus don’t get symptoms and won’t even know they have it,” said Dr. Tom Sidwa, state public health veterinarian and manager of DSHS’s zoonosis control branch. “But those who do get sick can experience very serious effects ranging from fever to substantial neurological symptoms and even death.”
Symptoms of the milder form of illness, West Nile fever, can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. People with West Nile fever typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for weeks to months. Symptoms of West Nile neuroinvasive disease can include those of West Nile fever plus neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile virus infection. People over 50 years old and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying when they become infected with the virus. If people have symptoms and suspect West Nile virus infection, they should contact their healthcare provider.
Health officials are also monitoring cases of another mosquito-borne virus, chikungunya. Seven Texas residents have been diagnosed with chikungunya this year. So far, all Texas cases have been acquired by people travelling abroad in areas where the virus is more common, particularly Central and South America. The same precautions apply, and DSHS encourages travelers to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.
Last year, there were 379 human cases of West Nile illness in Texas, including six deaths. DSHS will regularly update case counts at www.dshs.state.tx.us/news/updates.shtm.
Keep Our Air Clean
May 5, 2015
Ozone is a gas that is formed in the atmosphere when three atoms of oxygen combine. Ozone is found high in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight.
Ground-level ozone, sometimes referred to as smog, mainly forms the highest concentrations on sunny days with slow wind speeds, which allow pollutants to accumulate. Summer days in Texas can be conducive for ozone formation as high-pressure systems dominate our local weather patterns, giving us clear skies and stagnant winds. Ozone season has begun in Texas, but there are many things you can do to limit ozone formation.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Outbreaks: Key Facts
April 23, 2015
Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi Flyways (migratory paths for birds). The disease has been found in wild birds, as well as in some backyard and commercial poultry flocks.
There are three important things that you need to know about this situation:
- Our food supply is safe. Food is safe because the United States has the strongest AI surveillance system in the world. We actively look for the disease, educate the public and producers on the most appropriate practices to ensure their health and safety, as well as provide compensation to affected producers to encourage disease reporting.
- The risk to humans is low. No human infections with these viruses have been detected, and the CDC considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks, and commercial poultry to be low.
- USDA will continue to do everything it can to support states and producers. We are coordinating closely with State officials and other Federal departments on rigorous surveillance, reporting, and control efforts. At the same time, USDA will continue to work with Congress to ensure that we are able to provide a much-needed safety net to the poultry producers who are experiencing economic hardships as a result of losses due to the disease.
Along with industry, USDA and its Federal and State partners are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks. You can learn more about the situation and USDA’s response by listening to a recording of the press conference: http://www.usda.gov/documents/usda-cdc-media-call.mp3.
You too can help by continuing to practice good biosecurity if you own birds. All birds owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds and report sick birds or unusual birds deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.
Learn more about biosecurity for backyard flocks at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov. More information about USDA avian influenza efforts is available at http://www.usda.gov/avian_influenza.html.