Salmonella infections rise in US: study

US cases of salmonella have risen 10 percent in recent years, while other food-borne illnesses caused by E. coli and related bacteria have declined dramatically, the US government said on Tuesday.

Even as Germany grapples with a mysterious E. coli outbreak that has killed two dozen people, the United States has cut similar infections from serious Shiga toxin-producing E.coli O157 by nearly half in the past 15 years.

And overall rates of food-borne infection have declined by 23 percent in that time period, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But Salmonella, which can infect eggs, poultry, meat, vegetables or processed foods, remained the most common cause of food-borne illness and a stubborn foe.

"Although food-borne infections have decreased by nearly one-fourth in the past 15 years, more than one million people in this country become ill from Salmonella each year," said CDC director Thomas Frieden.

"Continued investments are essential to detect, investigate, and stop outbreaks promptly in order to protect our food supply."

Last year, Salmonella caused 54 percent of total hospitalizations (2,300 of the total 4,200 hospitalizations) for food illness and 43 percent of all such deaths (29 of the total 68 deaths), the CDC data said.

"The incidence of Salmonella infection in 2010 was not significantly different than during 1996-1998 but was significantly higher than during 2006-2008," a 10 percent increase, it noted.

Salmonella incurs $365 million in direct medical costs each year in the United States, the CDC said.

Pathogens included in the overall reduced level of infections compared to 1996-1998 included campylobacter, E. coli STEC O157, listeria, and yersinia.

However, vibrio infection rates, most often seen in raw seafood and shellfish, were 115 percent higher than in 1996-1998, and 39 percent higher than in 2006-2008.

"People who want to reduce their risk of food-borne illness should assume raw chicken and other meat carry bacteria that can cause illness and should not allow them to contaminate surfaces and other foods, such as produce," the CDC said.

ksh/ag

 

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