Foodborne illness hits 1 in 6 Americans- CDC report


Foodborne disease is caused by consuming contaminated foods or beverages.  Many different disease-causing microbes, or pathogens, can contaminate foods, so there are many different foodborne infections.  In addition, poisonous chemicals, or other harmful substances can cause foodborne diseases if they are present in food.  According to the 2010 FoodNet surveillance report issued by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – every year 48 million people in America or one in every six Americans are sickened by the food they eat and about 3,000 die from those illnesses. The report has updated the estimates of food-borne illnesses after a decade.

Major highlights of the CDC report
Previous estimates which were released in 1999, showed that 76 million, or one in four Americans, got sick each year, 325,000 people were hospitalized, and 5,000 people died because of food poisoning. Compared to that data the number of foodborne illness has decreased now, but according to CDC, these improvements are most likely due to improvement in the quality and quantity of data used and new methods performed to estimated foodborne illness.

Dr. Chris Braden, acting director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases said during a morning press conference- These illnesses are associated with billions in health care costs, and have a substantial human cost in severe illnesses and, in some cases, long-term health effects. 


The most commonly recognized foodborne infections are those caused by the seven pathogens that accounted about 90% of estimated illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths. These pathogens include Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, norovirus, Toxoplasma, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens.

justify;">Salmonella -The illness it causes, salmonellosis, typically includes fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.  Among seven pathogens responsible for causing majority of foodborne illness, the leader is salmonella, which causes 28% of deaths and 35% of hospitalizations. It was salmonella that led to the massive recall earlier this year of millions of suspect eggs.

Campylobacter is a bacterial pathogen that causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps and the most commonly identified bacterial cause of diarrheal illness in the world. 

E. coli O157:H7 – The illness it causes is often a severe and bloody diarrhea and painful abdominal cramps, without much fever.  The infection has gone down quite a bit in recent because of a lot of the work that industry and regulators are doing in beef processing plants.

The reports are published in the Dec. 15 online edition of the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, and update the last report on foodborne illness issued in 1999.

The report reveals various affirmative developments happened towards controlling the food borne illnesses, however, better scrutiny, better surveillance and better prevention techniques are still required to control these deadly pathogens.

Source: Businessweek

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