FoodNet Fast: Pathogen Surveillance Tool FAQ

FoodNet Fast’s Pathogen Surveillance Tool lets you to see how rates of illness have changed since 1996 for nine pathogens transmitted commonly through food: Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium*, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia.

* As of January 1, 2018, FoodNet no longer conducts active surveillance for Cryptosporidium.

FoodNet Fast
Pathogen Surveillance Tool link

Information About Data

FoodNet Fast has information on cases of infection reported to FoodNet from 1996 through the most recent year of finalized data. Data for the most recent year may be preliminary. The program lets you search by pathogen, year, age group, sex, race, and FoodNet site. FoodNet Fast also provides information on ethnicity, seasonality, hospitalizations, deaths, travel-associated cases, and outbreak-associated cases. You can see species or serotype information when viewing a single pathogen. Click here to see Tips and Tricks for using FoodNet Fast.

For bacterial infections, FoodNet Fast includes information on confirmed cases and, from 2012 forward, cases diagnosed with a culture-independent diagnostic test (CIDT). FoodNet Fast also has data on confirmed cases of parasitic infections.

Currently, FoodNet Fast includes information only on confirmed cases. For Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, Listeria, Vibrio, and Yersinia bacteria, a confirmed infection means that the bacterium was isolated (through culture) from a patient’s specimen. For Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora parasites, a confirmed infection means that a laboratory test performed on the patient’s specimen was positive for the parasite.

In the future, FoodNet Fast will include information on probable cases (cases with positive laboratory results from culture-independent diagnostic tests, such as antigen-based and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, without culture confirmation.

No. FoodNet Fast includes information on cases among people who reside in FoodNet’s surveillance area. FoodNet does not receive information on cases of illness among people who do not have a positive laboratory test, such as patients associated with an outbreak who do not submit a specimen for testing.

In addition, not all cases of illness are identified. Many ill people do not seek medical care. For those who do, a specimen may not be obtained or it may not be tested for the pathogen that caused the illness.

Preliminary data from the previous year are published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) each spring. Final data are summarized in the FoodNet Annual Report, which is released later, after updated census information becomes available. Read the reports >

It takes time for public health authorities to complete their case investigations and then to report the results to CDC. CDC reviews the reports for missing information in key data fields and works with state and local health departments to correct errors. CDC updates FoodNet Fast after finalizing the reported information.

Using the Pathogen Surveillance Tool

Incidence refers to the occurrence of new cases of disease in a population over a specified period of time. Incidence rates in FoodNet Fast are calculated by dividing the number of cases by the number of people in the population under surveillance and multiplying by 100,000. Standardizing the rate by multiplying by 100,000 allows direct comparisons among categories. The rate is the number of illnesses per 100,000 people. For example, a rate of 15.9 per 100,000 for Salmonella infection means that there are 15.9 cases of Salmonella infection for every 100,000 people in the population under surveillance.

Yes. FoodNet’s surveillance area includes the states of Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, and selected counties in California, Colorado, and New York.

You can specify one of these geographic areas in your search. Keep in mind that information may not be available for some areas prior to 2004. Learn more >

This is a case of illness in a person who traveled outside of the United States (international travel) in a specified time period before the illness was diagnosed, meaning the infection likely was acquired abroad. Travel is assessed within 30 days before illness began for Listeria, Salmonella Typhi, and Salmonella Paratyphi A, B, C infections; within 15 days before illness began for Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora infections; and within 7 days before illness began for Campylobacter, Salmonella serotypes other than Typhi and Paratyphi A, B, and C, Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia infections.

This is a case of illness linked to an outbreak, as defined by the occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from a common exposure.

Tips and Tricks

The default view for FoodNet Fast includes data for all pathogens from 1996 through the most current year of finalized data. You can customize your search using the following options:

  • Pathogen: You can select one or more pathogens and associated subgroups (available when only one pathogen is selected). For example, you can choose to have FoodNet Fast display information on Campylobacter, Listeria, and Salmonella or on specific Salmonella serotypes, e.g., Montevideo and Muenchen
  • Year: You can specify a date range
  • Age Group: You can specify one or more age groups
  • Sex: You can specify male, female, or both
  • Race: You can specify one or more races

If you do not select anything in the filter, all data for that category will be included.

Dashboard view displays information in a custom array of interactive graphs and charts. Tabular view displays information in a table. Both views show the search box, Quick Stats, and links to download data.

When you select a single pathogen, you will see:

  • A line graph showing incidence of infections by year
  • A line graph showing percentage of infections by month
  • A pie chart showing the percentage of infections by subgroup (species or subtype)
  • Four separate bar charts for age group, sex, race, and ethnicity showing incidence of infections
  • A bar graph showing incidence of infection by state

If you select a filter for CIDT-positive cases, you will see two lines in the incidence by year and incidence by month graphs (one line for confirmed cases and one for confirmed or CIDT-positive cases), an additional “CIDT” slice in the pie chart, and stacked “CIDT” bars in the bar charts.

A drop-down menu on the upper right of each item allows you to switch between the graph and tabular view.  The tabular view provides the data used to create each graph.

The demographic charts (age group, sex, race, and ethnicity) also have the following menu options:

  • Infections: Shows incidence rate for all infections of the pathogen selected
  • Hospitalizations: Shows incidence rate of hospitalizations
  • Deaths: Shows incidence rate of deaths
  • Outbreak-associated: Shows incidence rate of outbreak-associated infections
  • Travel-associated: Shows incidence rate of international travel-associated infections

When you select more than one pathogen, you will see:

  • A line graph showing incidence of infection by year
  • A line graph showing percentage of infections by month
  • A bar graph showing number of infections by pathogen

A drop-down menu on the upper right side of each item allows you to switch between the graph and tabular view. The tabular view provides the data used to create each graph.

The CIDT-positive case filter is not available when selecting multiple pathogens.

To remove a pathogen from all graphs and charts, uncheck the box next to its name in the search box.

To remove a pathogen from an individual graph or chart, click on its name in the legend. The pathogen name in the legend will then have a line drawn through it indicating you have removed it. To add the pathogen back to the graph or chart, click on its name again. It will appear on the graph or chart and the line through its name in the legend will disappear.

“Quick Stats” provides the number of cases of illness, average incidence rate, and percentage of cases that resulted in hospitalization or death, or were associated with an outbreak or international travel. “Quick Stats” is available when you select a subgroup within a single pathogen or when you add the CIDT-positive case filter to a single pathogen.

When selecting a subspecies within a single pathogen, “Quick Stats: Overall” displays statistics for all cases of illnesses caused by that pathogen. “Quick Stats: Current Search” displays statistics based on the subspecies that you selected. For example, if you create a search for Salmonella Enteritidis, “Quick Stats: Current Search” will display statistics for Salmonella Enteritidis and “Quick Stats: Overall” will display statistics for all cases of Salmonella.

When adding the CIDT-positive case filter to your pathogen selection, “Quick Stats: Confirmed or CIDT-positive” will display statistics for all confirmed or CIDT-positive cases of the selected pathogen, and “Quick Stats: Confirmed” will display statistics for only confirmed cases of that pathogen.

Start exploring FoodNet Fast now – or click the boxes below for more information.

FoodNet Fast Background Information
Read background information about FoodNet Fast
Laboratory Practices Tool FAQ
Visit the Laboratory Practices Tool FAQ page
HUS Surveillance Tool FAQ
Visit the HUS Surveillance Tool FAQ page