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Feds use technology to track Dole listeria outbreak

Published: Monday, January 25, 2016 @ 5:18 PM
Updated: Monday, January 25, 2016 @ 6:17 PM

            Dole listeria outbreak still being investigated
Dole listeria outbreak still being investigated

Federal agencies are using a relatively new technology to track the recent listeria outbreak that was linked to Dole’s production facility in Springfield last week.

The CDC and FDA are using Pulsenet, a national laboratory network of public health and food regulatory agency labs, to track the outbreak, said to Kate Fowlie, a spokeswoman for the CDC.

The CDC used a technique called whole genome sequencing to link the outbreak to Springfield.

DNA fingerprints were pulled from samples of listeria from ill patients, Fowlie said. Public health labs across the U.S. upload the DNA fingerprints to Pulsenet, and the CDC can then review data to see if something unusual or unexpected is happening, indicating a possible outbreak, Fowlie said.

Whole genone sequencing shows the complete genetic makeup of an organism, said Lauren Kotwicki, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She likened it to a construction project. Instead of a building’s outline, the technique can show the building’s entire blueprint, Kotwicki said.

“Because the technology allows the FDA to identify the cause of an outbreak more quickly, the FDA is able to apply it in ways that have the potential to help reduce food-borne illnesses and deaths over the long term both in the U.S. and abroad,” Kotwicki said.

In this case, the listeria samples taken from sick patients were genetically similar, Fowlie said. The Ohio Department of Health later took samples of packaged salads produced in Springfield and found they shared many genetic traits with the samples from patients.

“Also, epidemiologic evidence showed of five people who were asked about eating packaged salad, all five had reported eating packaged salads in the month before their illness began, and two of two people who remembered the brand of packaged salad eaten said Dole brand,” Fowlie said. “This epidemiologic and lab information linked the illnesses to Dole brand packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio.”

Dole voluntarily closed its Springfield facility Thursday, after one death and 12 illnesses in several states. The CDC has been investigating the cases since September last year, but they were not linked to the Springfield production site until this month.

So far, no deaths or illnesses have been reported in Ohio, according to state and local health officials.

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4-year-old mistakes gun for toy, shoots, kills little brother

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 7:18 AM

4-Year-Old Shoots, Kills Little Brother After Mistaking Loaded Gun for Toy

A Virginia family is mourning the death of a 2-year-old boy after he was shot and killed by his 4-year-old brother.

Tyson Aponte was shot in the chest when his brother picked up what he thought was a toy. In reality it was a loaded gun, WTVR reported.

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The children’s mother was home when the shooting happened Tuesday morning.

Tyson was taken to the University of Virginia Health System where he died, WCAV reported.

“It’s of paramount importance to make sure your guns are secured and out of the reach of children and everything,” Major Donald Lowe told WTVR. “At least have them unloaded or a safety lock on them, whatever you have to do to keep them from being discharged accidentally.”

Police are investigating.

“Our heart breaks for this family ... they’re devastated, naturally, so we want to do everything we can to help them,” Lowe told WTVR.

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Man charged with murder in chase, crash that killed North Carolina trooper

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 6:30 AM

North Carolina Man Charged With Murder In Connection With Crash That Killed Trooper

A man wanted following a fatal crash involving a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper has been captured.

>> Shooter dead in Panama City, Florida standoff, reports say

Authorities had been looking for 22-year-old Dakota Kape Whitt after Trooper Samuel N. Bullard, 24, of Wilkes County, died late Monday in a crash along Interstate 77 in Yadkin County during a chase.

WGHP-TV reports that during the chase, one trooper noticed he did not see a second patrol car behind him. When his attempt at contacting the other trooper failed, he turned around and found the patrol car engulfed in flames.

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“Our SHP family is devastated by the loss of Trooper Bullard. We are struggling to find words that describe the hurting we feel right now,” said Col. Glenn M. McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol. “Trooper Bullard died as he was fulfilling his promise to the people of North Carolina, protecting and serving his community.” 

It happened around 11:30 p.m. on I-77 southbound near NC-67. The area is about 70 miles north of Charlotte and due west of Winston-Salem.

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Chris Knox with the NCSHP said Bullard was a three-year veteran assigned to Surry County.

Troopers said the incident started with a license check. A black BMW did not stop and troopers went after it. Trooper Bullard was involved in a collision at Mile Marker 80.

Whitt was taken into custody without incident around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. He's charged with murder, felony fleeing to elude arrest in a motor vehicle and driving with a revoked license. 

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Uber driver gets huge tip thanks to lottery ticket

Published: Friday, April 27, 2018 @ 2:56 PM

Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
(Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk)

A tip could have gone either way, but an Uber driver really lucked out.

A driver was given a $5 Super Special Ultimate Bingo ticket as part of a tip. That ticket netted the man, who was not identified by Colorado Lottery officials, $30, KDVR reported.

Instead of just walking away with the cash, he bought more tickets.

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At the end of six weeks of rolling over his winnings, he bought one with a huge payout --$140,000, KVDR reported.

He claimed his money this Thursday, but he’s not keeping it all for himself.

He’s giving his parents a large chunk, though it wasn’t specified just how much, for helping him with money a few times.

He’s also going to put some of the money back into his car to trick it out, as he plans to keep driving for Uber, KVDR reported.

And it wasn’t a chance meeting. The winner said the man who gave him the first ticket had been in his car before, but hasn’t been since the first lottery win.

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Woman Hits Jackpot On Scratch-Off Ticket While Evacuated For Irma

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North Carolina lottery winner walks away from fiery helicopter crash

Published: Thursday, May 10, 2018 @ 11:50 AM

A North Carolina man is OK after his small helicopter crashed and burst into flames in a Lincoln County neighborhood. (Photo by
A North Carolina man is OK after his small helicopter crashed and burst into flames in a Lincoln County neighborhood. (Photo by

A North Carolina man is OK after his small aircraft hit a tree and burst into flames Wednesday. 

Timothy Kneiss’ Mosquito XE mini-helicopter was hovering above private property in a Lincoln County neighborhood when the tail rotor hit a tree, causing the aircraft to catch fire, federal investigators said.

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Kneiss and his wife won $100,000 on a $10 scratch-off lottery ticket last fall, according to The Gaston Gazette.

Neighbors told WSOC that Kneiss just bought the helicopter a few weeks ago and struggled with it while practicing in his front yard, only getting it a few feet off the ground. 

“I knew it was going to go down,” neighbor John Aubery said. “You don’t see somebody bouncing a helicopter around the yard and think, ‘Oh, this guy is going to make it.’ ... If I had a helicopter, I wouldn’t fly it into a tree, myself, but he chose to and I respect his rights for his property.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the accident. 

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