Surveillance for foodborne-disease outbreaks, United States, 1993-1997
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      Foodborne-disease outbreaks, United States, 1993-1997
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      PROBLEM/CONDITION: Since 1973, CDC has maintained a collaborative surveillance program for collection and periodic reporting of data on the occurrence and causes of foodborne-disease outbreaks (FBDOs) in the United States. REPORTING PERIOD COVERED: This summary reviews data from January 1993 through December 1997. DESCRIPTION OF SYSTEM: The Foodborne-Disease Outbreak Surveillance System reviews data concerning FBDOs, defined as the occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food. State and local public health departments have primary responsibility for identifying and investigating FBDOs. State, local, and territorial health departments use a standard form to report these outbreaks to CDC. RESULTS: During 1993-1997, a total of 2,751 outbreaks of foodborne disease were reported (489 in 1993, 653 in 1994, 628 in 1995, 477 in 1996, and 504 in 1997). These outbreaks caused a reported 86,058 persons to become ill. Among outbreaks for which the etiology was determined, bacterial pathogens caused the largest percentage of outbreaks (75%) and the largest percentage of cases (86%). Salmonella serotype Enteritidis accounted for the largest number of outbreaks, cases, and deaths; most of these outbreaks were attributed to eating eggs. Chemical agents caused 17% of outbreaks and 1% of cases; viruses, 6% of outbreaks and 8% of cases; and parasites, 2% of outbreaks and 5% of cases. INTERPRETATION: The annual number of FBDOs reported to CDC did not change substantially during this period or from previous years. During this reporting period, S. Enteritidis continued to be a major cause of illness and death. In addition, multistate outbreaks caused by contaminated produce and outbreaks caused by Escherichia coli O157:H7 remained prominent. ACTIONS TAKEN: Current methods to detect FBDOs are improving, and several changes to improve the ease and timeliness of reporting FBDO data are occurring (e.g., a revised form to simplify FBDO reporting by state health departments and electronic reporting methods). State and local health departments continue to investigate and report FBDOs as part of efforts to better understand and define the epidemiology of foodborne disease in the United States. At the regional and national levels, surveillance data provide an indication of the etiologic agents, vehicles of transmission, and contributing factors associated with FBDOs and help direct public health actions to reduce illness and death caused by FBDOs.
    • Content Notes:
      Sonja J. Olsen, Linda C. MacKinon, Joy S. Goulding, Nancy H. Bean, Laurence Slutsker, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases. Includes bibliographical references (p. 7).
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