Food-Borne Illnesses
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Food-borne illness outbreaks are underreported and the causes are often not identified, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Edward Hill takes a closer look at the CDCís conclusions in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Most food-borne illnesses are preventable and the toll could be reduced with better reporting and analysis by health officials.

The Centers for Disease Control reported in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that norovirus and salmonella were the leading causes of food-borne disease outbreaks in 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available.

Better surveillance and investigation could help control disease by pinpointing causes, such as improper food handling practices.

In 2006, there were 1,270 reported food-borne disease outbreaks, resulting in 27,000 illnesses and 11 deaths. Of the outbreaks, only half had a confirmed cause.

Most illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths caused by food-borne illnesses are not recorded. But the CDC estimates that such diseases sicken 76 million Americans per year, cause 300,000 hospitalizations, and cause 5,000 deaths.

Food-borne outbreaks of norovirus occur most often when infected food handlers fail to wash their hands well. Food-borne outbreaks of salmonella commonly occur when foods that have been contaminated with animal feces are eaten raw or insufficiently cooked.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.