CDC: Food sickens 48 million annually

Dec. 15, 2010 at 5:40 PM
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ATLANTA, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- About 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses each year, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year, U.S. health officials estimate.

Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta are published in two articles in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, says of the total estimate of 48 million illnesses annually, about 9.4 million are due to 31 known foodborne pathogens. Salmonella was the leading cause of estimated hospitalizations and deaths, responsible for about 28 percent of deaths and 35 percent of

hospitalizations due to known pathogens transmitted via food.

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, the studies say.

"We've made progress in better understanding the burden of foodborne illness and unfortunately, far too many people continue to get sick from the food they eat," Frieden says in a statement. "These estimates provide valuable information to help CDC and its partners set priorities and further reduce illnesses from food."

The new estimates are lower than in those provided in a 1999 report largely due to better quality data. For example, it is now known that most norovirus is not spread via food, which has reduced the estimate of foodborne norovirus from 9.2 million to about 5.5 million cases per year, the study says.

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