Bay Area Briefs

Friday April 05, 2002

Salmonella poisoning causes FDA warning on cheese 


SAN JOSE — More than 50 reported cases of salmonella poisoning since January have prompted state health officials to warn consumers to avoid an illegally produced cheese popular among Latinos. 

Many of the cases linked to the soft white cheese — queso fresco — occurred in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties. 

Of the 36 cases studied so far by health officials, 14 were hospitalized, including seven children, according to epidemiologist Dr. Michele Cheung, who is overseeing the investigation. 

Officials have been unable to identify the maker or distributor of the contaminated cheese. The strain of salmonella bacteria causing the outbreak, called Newport, worries epidemiologists because it is known to be resistant to certain antibiotics. 

The cheese is available at grocery stores, but also can be purchased from street vendors and homemakers in the Bay Area. Much of it is produced legally, using pasteurized milk, but some is made with unpasteurized milk that can contain salmonella and other bacteria. 

Symptoms in the recent outbreak include severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain, Cheung said. 




New bridge across Bay on I-238 could cost $8.2 billion  


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Skyrocketing cost estimates are making plans to build a new Southern Crossing span across the San Francisco Bay look more like fiction than fact. 

The cost of a new toll bridge between Interstate 238 in San Lorenzo and Interstate 380 in San Bruno is estimated at $8.2 billion, according to a report released to a regional panel studying the project. 

Two other potential projects also were given high price tags, according to the report prepared by Korve Engineering of Oakland. A proposed second transbay tube for Bay Area Rapid Transit is estimated at $10.3 billion, and a rail tunnel to handle commuter trains and high-speed rail is estimated at $11.8 billion. 

The transbay tunnel would swoop south of the Bay Bridge and end up in West Oakland, while the rail tunnel would begin at the Transbay Terminal, following the same route under the bay into West Oakland. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission also is studying less expensive alternatives, including a $2 billion expansion of the San Mateo Bridge or a $286 million project restoring the old Dumbarton railroad bridge and running Caltrain and Altamont Commuter Express trains across it. 




Woman dies in crash hours after getting marriage proposal  


SANTA CRUZ — A Modesto man faces a manslaughter charge for the death of his girlfriend in a car crash hours after he proposed to her. 

Shawn Bridgen Bruntmyer, 21, pleaded innocent Wednesday and was released on his own recognizance. 

Shannon Bartoni, 17, of Modesto was killed March 28 after a car driven by Bruntmyer drove into a 45-foot ravine in Santa Cruz. Bruntmyer suffered serious head and face injuries. Neither was wearing a seat belt. 

Police say Bruntmyer was under the influence of marijuana when the accident occurred. Several bags of the drug were found in the car, and Bruntmyer told officials he intended to take the drugs back to Modesto to sell, said prosecutor Ellen Campos. 

He also told investigators he had asked Bartoni to marry him just before the crash. The girl’s mother said her daughter never called to share the news before the accident. She said the two had been dating about two months. 

Bruntmyer was ordered to stay with his mother in Riverbank, northeast of Modesto. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 22.