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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Foodborne Illness Rates Continue to Fall – And, that is a Good Thing

Work at Marler Clark has been a bit slower in both 2011 and 2012 – and, that really is a good thing.  Less work translates into less illnesses – and, that is even a better thing.  Kudos, to our regulators and producers of food for taking a chunk out of my workload.  The trends below are encouraging, yet there is still much to do.

Caveat: I hope that the downtrend in all FoodNet numbers (except Vibrio and Campylobacter) are real and not caused by a lack of surveillance due to cutbacks in Epi investigations and/or a failure to take stool cultures to PFGE.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published FoodNet data for 2012 today and the numbers are encouraging.  The number of infections and incidence per 100,000 population, by pathogen, were as follows: Salmonella (7,800; 16.42), Campylobacter (6,793; 14.30), Shigella (2,138; 4.50), Cryptosporidium (1,234; 2.60), STEC non-O157 (551; 1.16), STEC O157 (531; 1.12), Vibrio (193; 0.41), Yersinia (155; 0.33), Listeria (121; 0.25), and Cyclospora (15; 0.03).  Yes, Vibrio and Campylobacter are up – and, that is a bad thing.  We also need to pay more attention to antimicrobial resistance, and we have NARMS watching that.

The estimated incidence of infection was higher in 2012 compared with 2006–2008 for Campylobacter (14% increase; confidence interval [CI]: 7%–21%) and Vibrio (43% increase; CI: 16%–76%) and unchanged for other pathogens.  In comparison with 1996–1998, incidence of infection was significantly lower for Campylobacter, Listeria, Shigella, STEC O157, and Yersinia, whereas the incidence of Vibrio infection was higher.  The overall incidence of infection with six key pathogens, Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC O157, Vibrio, and Yersinia, transmitted commonly through food was lower in 2012 (22% decrease; CI: 11%–32%) compared with 1996–1998 and unchanged compared with 2006–2008.

Perhaps folks have been paying attention?