New stats: 1 in 6 get foodborne illnesses each year

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

More precise estimates than previously available find that one in six Americans suffer foodborne illnesses annually and that 3,000 die of such diseases.

The CDC says the newly released reports are the most accurate to date. They are “the first comprehensive estimates since 1999 and are CDC’s first to estimate illnesses caused solely by foods eaten in the United States.” According to the CDC’s release, these estimates are lower than those in the 1999 report, largely because of “improvements in the quality and quantity of the data used and new methods used to estimate foodborne-disease. ”

The articles are in the January 2011 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases:
Foodborne Illness Acquired in the United States—Major Pathogens (PDF)
Foodborne Illness Acquired in the United States—Unspecified Agents (PDF)

Other findings:

  • Salmonella was the leading cause of estimated hospitalizations and deaths
  • About 90 percent of estimated illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths were due to seven pathogens: Salmonella, norovirus, Campylobacter, Toxoplasma, E.coli O157, Listeria and Clostridium perfringens.
  • Nearly 60 percent of estimated illnesses, but a much smaller proportion of severe illness, was caused by norovirus.

The reports were the subject of a telebriefing this morning; the transcript should be available later.

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