Two pathogens overwhelmingly associated with reported foodborne illnesses

by Keith Nunes
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C.D.C. foodborne illness
FoodNet data shows Campylobacter and Salmonella to be the cause of the most reported cases of foodborne illness.

ATLANTA Campylobacter and Salmonella were the two leading causes of reported foodborne illnesses in 2016, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 20. Cases of infection associated with Campylobacter totaled 8,547 during the year, and for Salmonella it was 8,172.

The newly released data was published in the C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and was sourced from the agency’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, also known as FoodNet. During the year there were 24,029 reported foodborne infections, with 5,512 resulting in hospitalization and 98 cases resulting in death.

Following Campylobacter and Salmonella, the other leading causes of reported illnesses were Shigella at 2,913, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (1,845), Cryptosporidium (1,816), Yersina (302), Vibrio (252) and Listeria (127).

The C.D.C. noted that 2016 was the first year its data included in the total number of cases those foodborne bacterial infections diagnosed only by rapid diagnostic tests in FoodNet sites. Previously, the report counted foodborne bacterial infections confirmed only by traditional culture-based methods in the total numbers.

As a result, reported cases of Yersinia, Cryptosporidium, and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections increased. The increases were likely due to newly available rapid tests that make infections easier to diagnose, rather than to a true increase in illness, the agency said.

Salmonella Typhimurium infections, which are often linked to beef and poultry, decreased 18% in 2016 compared with the average for 2013-2015, according to the FoodNet data. The continuing decreases in Salmonella Typhimurium may be due to regulatory action to reduce Salmonella contamination in poultry and vaccination of chicken flocks by producers.

Robert Tauxe, C.D.C.
Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H, director of the C.D.C.’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases

“This report provides important information about which foodborne germs are making people sick in the United States,” said Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H, director of the C.D.C.’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. “It also points out changes in the ways clinicians are testing for foodborne illness and gaps in information as a result.”

In 2015, Salmonella was the leading laboratory-confirmed bacterial infection with 7,719 cases, according to the FoodNet 2015 annual report. Campylobacter was second with 6,289 cases and Shigella was third with 2,645.
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READER COMMENTS (2)

By Lisa Pitzer 5/5/2017 1:28:32 PM
Producers are turning to High Pressure Processing (HPP) to increase food safety. HPP is cold pasteurization in pure water; it uses ultra-high pressure purified water to keep packaged food pathogen-free to stay fresh longer. At very high pressures bacteria such as Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella are inactivated. Foods using HPP include ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook meats, ready-meals, fruits and vegetables, juices and smoothies, soups and sauces, wet salads and dips, dairy products, seafood and shellfish. HPP helps producers increase food safety and extend shelf-life while providing consumers with nutritious, natural, flavorful food.

By Karen Davis 5/4/2017 12:32:35 PM
Poultry products are the primary source of Salmonella and Campylobacter poisoning of consumers and handlers of animal products. Other transmittable bacterial infections such as E. coli and Listeria also derive from poultry products. This article slides over the extent to which the poultry & egg industries contribute to human gastrointestinal disease outbreaks - a connection that has been publicly documented in many publications at least since the 1970s. Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns http://www.upc-online.org