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E. coli Declines, but Other Foodborne Illnesses a Worry
Date:4/15/2010

Oyster-related infections up, while Salmonella plateaus, says CDC report

THURSDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. officials report a continuing decline in food-related illnesses caused by several common bacteria, including the most virulent form of E. coli.

But Vibrio, a pathogen most often acquired from oysters which can cause severe illness or even death, is on the rise, while rates of Salmonella infection have remained flat in recent years.

"Overall, this year's report shows a reduction in the number of illnesses due to many of these important pathogens over the past 10 to 15 years," said Dr. Chris Braden, acting director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"This reflects the impact of measures to prevent foodborne illness, but additional measures are needed," he said at a Thursday press conference.

The preliminary 2009 data comes from the interagency FoodNet system, which tracks laboratory-confirmed illness from nine bacteria in 10 states. The findings are published in the April 16 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Infections caused by Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) 0157, Shigella and Yersinia, have declined overall since 1996.

But decreases in the incidence of infections caused by Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter have essentially plateaued since 2004, causing some concern.

"Salmonella continues to be a challenge. It is the most commonly diagnosed foodborne illness," Braden said. "Its incidence has declined by 10 percent since 1996, but it is the furthest of any of the pathogens for the goals we have set for reduction."

Not all Salmonella infections are transmitted by food. Some occur from direct contact with baby chicks, turtle
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