Salmonella: No progress for 15 years

June 7, 2011 at 9:33 PM

ATLANTA, June 8 (UPI) -- Foodborne infections caused by Salmonella have decreased during the past 15 years but still affect about 1 million people each year, U.S. health officials say.

A Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that FoodNet sites, which provide active surveillance for foodborne diseases and include about 15 percent of the U.S. population, reported Salmonella caused more than 8,200 infections, nearly 2,300 hospitalizations and 29 deaths in 2010.

The CDC estimates there are 29 infections for every laboratory-confirmed Salmonella infection.

Salmonella causes an estimated $365 million in direct U.S. medical costs and can be challenging to address because it is carried in meat, eggs, produce and even processed foods.

"Although foodborne infections have decreased by nearly one-fourth in the past 15 years, more than 1 million people in this country become ill from Salmonella each year, and Salmonella accounts for about half of the hospitalizations and deaths among the nine foodborne illnesses CDC tracks through FoodNet," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, says in a statement.

The rate of E. coli O157 cases reported by FoodNet sites was 2 cases per 100,000 people in 1997. It decreased to .9 cases per 100,000 people by 2010, a 50 percent reduction, the report says.

The CDC credits the reduction in E. coli to improved detection and investigation by CDC's surveillance system, cleaner slaughter methods, testing of ground beef for E. coli, better inspections of ground beef processing plants, regulatory improvements and increased awareness of the importance of properly cooking beef.

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