Cases of E. Coli Food Poisoning Declined in 2009: CDC
The number of illnesses from E. coli food poisoning dropped 12% in 2009, dipping to a five year low according to newly released federal statistics.
The U.S. Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the decline in cases of E. coli on Thursday in a new report on 2009 food poisoning rates. The CDC said the drop brought E. coli poisoning incidents to their lowest numbers since 2004.
The CDC looked at nine different foodborne pathogens in the United States. While most remained flat, sickness from eating foods contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 dropped 12%. There was also a major drop in the number of illnesses caused by shigella bacteria, which is harder to track because it is believed that only about 20% of shigella illnesses are caused by contaminated food.
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Federal health officials tracked food poisoning cases through data from 10 states collected by the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, or Foodnet. The network has found that E. coli O157:H7 and Shigella illnesses have declined 41% and 55%, respectively, since it first started tracking foodborne illnesses in 1996. Salmonella food poisoning has only had a moderate decline of about 10% over the same time period.
CDC officials say that the decrease in E. coli illnesses is most likely due to improved safety measures in the meat and produce industries. E. coli O157:H7 is of particular concern because up to 10% of food poisoning from that particular strain of E. coli results in kidney failure.
E. coli O157:H7 is one of the more common causes of food poisoning in the United States. When left untreated, it can lead to dehydration and potentially life-threatening illness. While most healthy adults recover within a few week from E. coli food poisoning, young children and the elderly could be at risk for more severe illness. If the toxin enters the blood stream, E. coli could also lead to kidney failure known as Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome (HUS).
The CDC reports that there are about 76 million cases of food-related illnesses reported every year, with more than 300,000 people hospitalized and 5,000 deaths. There were at least nine major recalls of beef products in 2009.
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