The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, foodborne diseases cause illness in 1 in 6 Americans (or about 48 million people) resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
Foodborne Diseases Centers for Outbreak Response Enhancement (FoodCORE) centers work together to develop new and better methods to detect, investigate, respond to, and control multistate outbreaks of foodborne diseases. Efforts are primarily focused on outbreaks caused by bacteria, including Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, and Listeria. The ability to detect and investigate viral and parasitic foodborne disease outbreaks will also be strengthened.
Recent Highlights and Successes
Local health departments detect many foodborne outbreaks through illness complaint systems. The public, however, may not use or be aware of these systems. Staff at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) collaborated with Columbia University and Yelp, an online review site, to identify foodborne outbreaks that may go undetected through traditional complaint systems.
DOHMH’s academic partners at Columbia University developed software to search for reviews related to food and sickness. Researchers used the program to analyze nearly 300,000 reviews from which DOHMH staff identified 129 that needed further investigation. Three outbreaks were identified through this project that had not been detected through traditional outbreak detection methods. DOHMH potentially prevented further illnesses by identifying and responding to these three outbreaks.