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Foodborne illness takes a toll in U.S.

22 deaths in one year

BurgersA report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives new meaning to the idea that certain foods are bad for you.

The Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 2008 report in this week′s edition of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reveals that tens of thousand of people became ill from foodborne diseases 2008 -- the most recent year for which data is finalized. The 1,034 foodborne disease outbreaks that year caused 23,152 cases of illness, 1,276 hospitalizations and 22 deaths.

Although it’s difficult to determine the exact cause of outbreaks, state health officials say that the chief culprits in 218 of the outbreaks were poultry (15 percent), followed by beef (14 percent) and fish (14 percent). Fruits and nuts and vine vegetables also accounted for some of the outbreaks.

Norovirus was the most common known pathogen involved in the outbreaks (49  percent of outbreaks and 46 percent of illnesses) while Salmonella was the second most common agent (23 percent of outbreaks and 31 percent of illnesses). 

A full listing of the number of illnesses associated with each food category, additional details on the 2008 report, and the foodborne disease outbreak program at CDC are available at: www.cdc.gov/outbreaknet/surveillance_data.html. More information about the 2008 report is available at www.cdc.gov/outbreaknet/foodborne-surveillance-questions-and-answers.html.

To prevent foodborne illness, CDC recommends that consumers and food handlers use appropriate procedures when cleaning, cooking and chilling foods. For more details, visit www.foodsafety.gov.

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