Uptick in Foodborne Infection

Food poisoning from campylobacter and vibrio bacteria on the increase

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) When it comes to episodes of food poisoning in the US, there is good news and there is bad news.

A new report estimated that infections caused by two specific pathogens associated with chicken, raw dairy and raw oysters have increased.

However, rates of other major food-borne infections have stayed fairly level, according to the report.

"Take caution when eating raw foods."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released results of a survey involving 2012 preliminary surveillance data and comparing it to previous years, going back to 1996.

The data was obtained from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), which monitors infections at ten sites in different US states.

In 2012, 19,531 infections were observed, including 4,563 hospitalizations and 68 deaths.

“In 2012, compared with the 2006–2008 period, the overall incidence of infection was unchanged, and the estimated incidence of infections caused by Campylobacter and Vibrio increased,” the CDC reported.

Campylobacter, a bacteria associated with poultry, unpasteurized dairy products, untreated water and contact with animals, saw a 14 percent increase in 2012, as compared to the 2006-2008 period. Of the infections observed, 6,793 were due to Campylobacter.

Vibrio, a bacteria associated with seafood from warm coastal areas (particularly raw oysters), saw a 43 percent increase. Of the infections observed, 193 were due to Vibrio. The CDC stressed that while this represented a significant increase, it remained a low number of Vibrio infections.

Overall, when looking at six key pathogens (including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Vibrio and Listeria), the CDC reported a 22 percent decrease in 2012 as compared to 1996-1998 and no change compared to 2006-2008.

According to the CDC, the incidence of most of these infections was highest in children under the age of 5. The percentage of both hospitalizations and deaths from infections was highest in people aged 65 years or older.

“These findings highlight the need to continue to identify and address food safety gaps that can be targeted for action by the food industry and regulatory authorities,” reported the CDC.

However, the CDC also stressed that individuals play a role, and continued, “Because consumers can bring an added measure of safety during food storage, handling and preparation, they are advised to seek out food safety information, which is available online.”

The team involved with this report included a variety of public health officials from a number of different states across the nation. FoodNet has been tracking foodborne infections since 1996 and is a joint effort from the CDC, ten state health departments and a number of federal government departments.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 19, 2013
Last Updated:
December 4, 2013