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Salmonella Cases Decline, but Other Foodborne Illnesses Up

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There was little progress in reducing food poisoning rates in the U.S. last year, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although Salmonella infections decreased by 9 percent in 2013, illnesses caused by other foodborne bacteria rose by as much as 32 percent.

Each year, the most common foodborne illness - Salmonella - sickens about 1.2 million people in the U.S. and results in 450 deaths, according to the CDC. Recent efforts to lower that number seem to be working, but illnesses caused by contaminated food are still too common, say the report's authors.

"Progress in preventing foodborne illnesses has been limited in recent years," said senior author Olga L. Henao of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the CDC in Atlanta. "More can be done."

The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, a collaboration between federal health administrations and state health departments, monitors infections linked to food caused by nine common pathogens at 10 sites in the U.S. The new report includes 2013 infection data and trends since 2006.

In 2013, there were 19,056 lab-confirmed infections in the sample areas, which was not significantly different from 2006. More than 4,000 people were hospitalized and 80 died from foodborne illnesses.

The most common infections in 2013 were Salmonella, affecting 15 percent of the population; Campylobacter, affecting 14 percent and Shigella, affecting 5 percent, according to the results published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

All the bacterial infections can originate in contaminated food, including raw meat, especially if food handlers do not maintain strict hand hygiene.

Most of the bacteria are also found in human fecal matter, which explains why the infections are most common in children under five years old, including toddlers who are not fully toilet trained.       
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