Saving lives is worth celebrating, CDC Reports Sharp Decline in Foodborne Illnesses
Foodborne illnesses are defined as the illnesses caused by pathogens that enter the human body where food is the carrier. They may be transmitted via close contact with an infected person or ingestion of contaminated foods. The epidemic nature of food borne diseases is a known cause of concern amongst the respective regulatory and compliance authorities. However according to the CDC’s (‘Centers of Disease Control’ in the United States) most recent report released on 25th January, 2013, a sharp decline in the number of deaths and reported cases of foodborne illnesses have been observed.
In the fields of science and technology, facts and figures are known to speak for themselves. Thus, a 1% decline in the number of reported cases may not seem much, but it accounts for roughly 200 individuals prevented from infection, and 12 from hospitalization. Additionally, there is a 32% decline compared with the mean off the last five years that the CDC report reflects. Since foodborne diseases spread rapidly through close contact and ingestion of contaminated food, or from infected persons, the decrease observed is definitely worth a celebration for industry and regulators alike.
At first glance, the CDC report would not enable an individual to realize the stark decrease or significance of 32% in cases reported. However, a closer examination and evaluation of the report will shed light on the subject. The bi yearly nature of the current report does not help one realize the facts and figures as they may appear to be elevated, but that is certainly not the case.
The facts and figures presented in the report are as follows:
|Latest Report:Illnesses: 29,444Hospitalizations: 1,184Deaths: 23||Previous report:Illnesses: 23,152Hospitalizations: 1,276Deaths: 22|
The above figures might indicate an elevation but CDC used the new procedure named ‘new reporting form and online data’. This new method may not display results in black and white but this does not mean they are incorrect. A detailed study of the report helps shed light on the underlining cases and its contents.
It must be kept in mind that change of technology cannot change the figures of results, as so is also admitted by CDC. The organization, nonetheless, is unsure about the reasons of the turndown in the outbreak reports.
Some trends are worth nothing in the current report:
- Among the 790 outbreaks with a laboratory-confirmed illness, norovirus was the most commonly reported infection, accounting for 42% of outbreaks; followed by Salmonella, with 30% of outbreaks.
- Of the 29,444 outbreak-related illnesses, 1,184 (4%) resulted in hospitalization.Salmonella caused the most outbreak-related hospitalizations (49%), followed by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (16%), and norovirus (9%).
- Outbreaks caused by some pathogens were particularly severe. For example, Listeriaoutbreaks resulted in the highest proportion of persons hospitalized (82%), followed byClostridium botulinum (67%), and paralytic shellfish poisoning (67%).
- Among the 23 deaths, 22 were linked to bacteria (9 Listeria, 5 Salmonella, E. coli O157, 3Clostridium perfringens, and 1 Shigella), and 1 was linked to norovirus.
The report also hypothesizes the decline observed in food borne diseases is mostly in regards to non-virus outbreaks. These are normally transmitted through a variety of routes, mainly via close contact with the pathogen or infected persons. Furthermore, through the introduction of ‘National Outbreak Reporting System’, the electronic reporting of cases of foodborne illnesses has been enabled and allows for greater . Although no conventional reasoning has been put forth, this new technique is rather a commendable success. Thus, saving lives is as good a reason as any for celebration.