CDC: E.coli food poisoning down last year

Apr 15, 2010 By MIKE STOBBE , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- Americans suffered a bit less food poisoning last year. There were significant drops in illnesses from shigella and the most dangerous form of E. coli, according to a government report released Thursday. But overall, food poisoning rates have been flat for more than five years.

The report is based on cases in 10 states that participate in a federally funded monitoring system of lab-confirmed infections that can be spread through food. They reported about 17,500 cases of the nine leading illnesses last year, down from about 18,500 in 2009.

More important to scientists are the rates of illness. The report from the noted a 12 percent decrease in the incidence rate for E. coli O157:H7 from 2008. The rate dropped to its lowest level since 2004.

That E. coli strain is a dangerous form of an ordinarily harmless family of bacteria that can cause abdominal cramps, fever, bloody diarrhea, , blindness, paralysis, even death. Cases occur in about 1 in every 100,000 people.

The decrease was probably due to better safety measures in the meat and produce industries, health officials said.

Shigella (shih-GEHL'-uh) is a that is about four times more common. It also declined significantly, about 40 percent. However, only about 20 percent of shigella cases are thought to be caused by food. It's usually spread by person-to-person contact, with day care centers a traditional hot spot for infections.

That decrease may have been driven by unusually high amounts of hand-washing and disinfection because of the that broke out last year, said Elliot Ryser, a professor of food science at Michigan State University, who was not involved in the study.

"You might kill two birds with one stone" by hand-washing, Ryser said, referring to swine flu and shigella.

For other illnesses, the CDC reported:

- Salmonella - the most common of the illnesses - was down slightly, despite a national outbreak of peanut-related salmonella at the beginning of 2009.

- Vibrio, a rare illness associated with shellfish, continued to rise.

- Listeria also rose, despite efforts by the packaged meats industry to prevent the illness.

Deaths from these bugs are unusual. In the 10 states last year, salmonella was the deadliest with 24 deaths attributed to it. Listeria was second with 20 deaths. Vibrio was blamed in seven deaths, the dangerous E. coli strain in two and one from shigella, according to CDC data.

The study is being published in a CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Explore further: Superbug in SE Michigan shows recent decline

More information: The CDC publication: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CDC: US food poisoning cases held steady in 2008

Apr 09, 2009

(AP) -- Americans didn't suffer more food poisoning last year despite high-profile outbreaks involving peppers, peanut butter and other foods, according to a government report released Thursday.

New info shows swine flu still hardest on young

Oct 20, 2009

(AP) -- Swine flu continues to be most dangerous to kids and younger adults and is largely bypassing the elderly, according to the latest and most solid government health information.

CDC study: Swine flu deaths higher in older kids

Sep 03, 2009

(AP) -- About one in 13 U.S. swine flu deaths have been children and most of the kids have been of school age, the federal government said Thursday in its first study of the new flu's youngest victims.

Recommended for you

Ebola isolation at US base 'pretty much vacation'

10 hours ago

With plenty of flat screen TVs, game nights and even an outdoor fire pit, life in isolation for members of the U.S. military who have returned from the Ebola mission in West Africa can look a lot like summer camp.

Chinese-built Ebola center dedicated in Liberia

13 hours ago

China, one of the first countries to send aid to battle Ebola in West Africa, ramped up the assistance significantly Tuesday by opening a 100-bed treatment center in Liberia as rows of uniformed Chinese army ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.