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Food Poisoning Hits 1 in 6 Americans Each Year: CDC
Date:12/15/2010

ible for about 28 percent of deaths and 35 percent of hospitalizations.
  • Seven pathogens accounted for about 90 percent of estimated illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths: Salmonella, norovirus, Campylobacter, Toxoplasma, E. coli O157, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens.
  • Almost 60 percent of less severe illnesses were caused by one pathogen: norovirus.
  • The two 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 new estimates of deaths and hospitalizations are lower than in the 1999 report, probably because the amount and quality of data has improved and experts now have better methods to gauge foodborne disease, Braden said.

    He noted that data from CDC's FoodNet surveillance system, which tracks trends of common foodborne pathogens, has shown a 20 percent decrease in illnesses from key pathogens during the past 10 years. However, the FoodNet pathogens account for only a small number of the illnesses included in the new estimates, Braden added.

    For these and other reasons, one cannot compare the 1999 report with the new reports or FoodNet data to really determine whether or not there is more or less foodborne illness today than 10 years ago, or what pathogens are involved in all cases, he said.

    Commenting on the reports, infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, associate professor of medicine at New York University in New York City, said that "it's important that most of foodborne illness is due to norovirus. That's what a lot of us believed and it's one of the reasons we don't put people on antibiotics when they come in with diarrhea or vomiting -- because there is no treatment for norovirus."

    In addition, because so many illnesses are being caused by unidentified pathogens, "that really ramps up the need for better scrutiny, better surveillance and better preventi
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