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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released the report, "Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks United States, 2008" in this weeks edition of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report states that during 2008, the most recent year for which foodborne outbreak data are finalized, 1,034 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported.
These outbreaks resulted in 23,152 cases of illness, 1,276 hospitalizations, and 22 deaths. The foodborne agent responsible for the outbreak was confirmed by state health officials in 497 (or 45 percent) of the outbreaks. Among outbreaks with known pathogens, norovirus was the most common agent (49 percent of outbreaks and 46 percent of illnesses) and Salmonella was the second most common (23 percent of outbreaks and 31 percent of illnesses).
Although the cause of an outbreak cannot always be determined or confirmed, state health officials reported specific food groups associated with 218 of these outbreaks. The top food groups to which the 218 outbreaks were attributed were poultry (15 percent), beef (14 percent), and fish (14 percent). Among the 7,177 illnesses in these 218 outbreaks, the food groups associated with the most illnesses were fruits and nuts (24 percent), vine vegetables (23 percent), and beef (13 percent).
A full listing of the number of illnesses associated with each food category, additional details on the 2008 report, and the foodborne disease outbreak program at CDC are available at: http://www.cdc.gov/outbreaknet/surveillance_data.html.
To prevent foodborne illness, CDC recommends that consumers and food handlers appropriately clean, separate, cook and chill foods. For more details, visit www.foodsafety.gov.
Direct access to the Foodborne Outbreak Online Database (FOOD), a searchable database of outbreaks reported to CDC between 1998 and 2009 is available at http://www.cdc.gov/foodborneoutbreaks/.
Foodborne agents cause an estimated 48 million illnesses annually in the United States, including 9.4 million illnesses from known pathogens. CDC collects data on foodborne disease outbreaks submitted from all states and territories through the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System. Outbreak surveillance provides insights into the agents that cause foodborne illness, types of implicated foods, and settings where transmission occurs. Public health, regulatory, and food industry professionals can use this information to continue to target pathogens and foods that cause the most foodborne disease outbreaks.