CDC Issues Report on Food Poisoning

Most <"">food poisoning outbreaks, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC) report, are not only preventable, but could be minimized with better analysis and reporting, said WebMD Health News. Yet outbreaks of food-borne illnesses continue to sicken millions and kill thousands of Americans every year.

In today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC writes that norovirus and Salmonella were the leading causes of food-borne disease outbreaks in 2006, which is the most current year in which statistics are available, reported WebMD, which noted that improved oversight and review could help isolate causes, citing the report.

Another You hd

Also long suspected, most food borne illnesses are either not reported or not recognized. Ian Williams, PhD, chief of the CDC’s OutbreakNet team concurred, telling WebMD, “Most cases are not associated with outbreaks, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. The interesting thing is that most cases are sporadic and aren’t part of outbreaks. So what outbreaks do is provide a window in, to see what’s going on in the larger picture. With most sporadic cases, we never figure out what causes them, that’s why we need more emphasis on identification and analysis.”

Local health officials need to better identify causes, said Williams. “In order to track this we need the infrastructure at the state level to investigate and find out causes of outbreaks … the regulatory structure needs to be put in place to find out the causes and put programs in place to prevent the outbreaks to begin with,” Williams told WebMD.

The X Files full

Salmonella can cause serious, sometimes fatal Salmonellosis infections in young children; weak or elderly people; and those with weakened immune systems. Healthy people may experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, if infected. Without treatment, severe cases can result in arterial infections—such as infected aneurysms—endocarditis, arthritis, and death; however, some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics.

Thelma & Louise release

Norovirus, a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis are not helped with antibiotics. People become infected by eating food or drinking liquids contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; and having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms. People may feel very sick and vomit many times a day. Sometimes people are unable to drink enough liquids to replenish the liquids lost due to vomiting and diarrhea and can become dehydrated and require special medical attention.

Feces contamination is at the root of both illnesses. Food borne norovirus outbreaks generally occur, explained WebMD, when infected food handlers do not their hands well after using the toilet, citing a CDC news release. Salmonella outbreaks linked to food borne illness generally occur when feces-contaminated foods are eaten raw or are inadequately cooked, WebMD, added.

In 2006, there were 1,270 reported food-borne disease outbreaks, leading to 27,634 illnesses and 11 deaths; of these, 624 had a confirmed cause: 54 percent were norovirus and 18 percent, Salmonella, reported WebMD, citing the CDC. Because most cases of illness, death, and hospitalizations go unreported, the CDC believes about 76 million Americans, with 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths occur annually.

Speed release

Patricia M. Griffin, MD, chief of the CDC’s Enteric Diseases Branch, said in a news release, only a small percentage of food borne illnesses are recognized outbreaks with some never detected, investigated, or reported due to lacking state resources, causing those outbreaks to go unrecognized by health officials, noted WebMD.

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