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CDC: Campylobacter, Vibrio food borne infections increase in the US, Salmonella remains constant

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate  that about 48 million people, or one in six people in the United States, get sick from eating contaminated food.

During a CDC telebriefing today, Dr. Rob Tauxe, deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases and colleagues reported on the nation’s annual Food Safety Report Card based on data from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet).

Campylobacter is associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry, raw milk dairy products, contaminated produce and contaminated water.  Image/CDC

Campylobacter is associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry, raw milk dairy products, contaminated produce and contaminated water. Image/CDC

Dr. Tauxe says Salmonella still tops the list as the most common agent diagnosed of those tracked by FoodNet. However, Tauxe notes, “The frequency of Salmonella infections in general in the population that FoodNet follows has remained constant over time since 1996.  Now, that constancy masks some changes because the type of Salmonella that used to be the most common, which is called serotype Typhimurium has actually decreased substantially over time.

“Unfortunately, other types have increased, so the total number has not changed.  Perhaps this represents some success that Salmonella infections have not increased over time, but the fact that we’re still where we were a decade ago means that further efforts will be needed to prevent more Salmonella infections and bring that number of infections lower than they are now.”

While the occurrence of Salmonella has remained unchanged, other causes of food borne illness have increased, some dramatically.

The second  most common, Campylobacter, which is linked to many foods, including poultry, raw milk and produce – has risen up to 14 percent in 2012 compared to 2006-2008. They were at their highest level since 2000.

Another organism, usually related to eating oysters and other shellfish, increased dramatically according to CDC data. Vibrio infections, not Vibrio vulnificus,  as a whole were up 43 percent when compared with the rates observed in 2006-2008.

Concerning E. coli O157, Dr. Tauxe said, “The levels in 2012 are similar to those that were observed in 2006- 2008.  And past declines, substantial declines, in E.coli 0157 were observed following regulatory change and improvements in the food industry that particularly targeted ground beef, and it is still the case now that numbers are lower than they were back in the 1990s, but this — the recent modest increase in the last couple of years means that we’re right now just about where we were in 2006- 2008.”

 

Vibrio lives naturally in sea water and foodborne vibrio infection is most often linked to eating raw oysters. It is rare, but can cause serious, life-threatening infection, especially in people with liver disease.  Image/CDC

Vibrio lives naturally in sea water and foodborne vibrio infection is most often linked to eating raw oysters. It is rare, but can cause serious, life-threatening infection, especially in people with liver disease. Image/CDC

“The U.S. food supply remains one of the safest in the world,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “However, some foodborne diseases continue to pose a challenge. We have the ability, through investments in emerging technologies, to identify outbreaks even more quickly and implement interventions even faster to protect people from the dangers posed by contaminated food.”

What is FoodNet?

FoodNet collects information to track rates and determine trends in laboratory-confirmed illnesses caused by nine pathogens transmitted commonly by food: campylobacter, cryptosporidium, cyclospora, listeria, salmonella, STEC O157 and non-O157, shigella, vibrio and yersinia. Annual data are compared with data from a recent period (2006-2008) and with data from the first years of surveillance (1996-1998) to measure progress. FoodNet is a collaboration among CDC, ten state health departments, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the FDA. FoodNet covers 48 million people, encompassing about 15 percent of the American population. The sites are the states of Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Tennessee, and selected counties in California, Colorado, and New York.

In 2012, the FoodNet surveillance program identified about 19,500 infections, about 4,500 hospitalizations and 68 deaths.

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This year’s food safety report card shows that some germs spread commonly through food have increased while others have not changed.  Image/CDC

This year’s food safety report card shows that some germs spread commonly through food have increased while others have not changed. Image/CDC

 

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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