FoodNet Surveys and Studies
FoodNet determines the incidence of laboratory-diagnosed infections for bacterial pathogens transmitted commonly through food. However, these reports represent only a subset of the true number of cases of diarrheal illness that occur in the community; most diarrheal illnesses are undiagnosed and, therefore, not reported. To more precisely estimate the burden of acute diarrheal illness and to describe the frequency of exposures linked to diarrheal illness, FoodNet conducts population-based surveys of people residing in the surveillance area.
More than 700 clinical laboratories in the FoodNet surveillance area test specimens from ill people. These laboratories differ in their routine testing practices for foodborne pathogens and in methods they use. Such differences may contribute to variation in the incidence rate of reported infections among FoodNet sites. To understand current practices and to monitor changes in practices over time, FoodNet conducts periodic surveys of all clinical laboratories within the surveillance area.
Identification of enteric infections depend on accurate diagnosis by a healthcare provider. To understand knowledge, attitudes, and practices of physicians, FoodNet conducted surveys of physicians practicing within the surveillance area.
Although foodborne outbreaks are common, about 95% of foodborne infections occur as sporadic (non-outbreak) cases. Determining what specific exposure caused a person with a sporadic infection to become ill can be difficult; however, risk factors can be explored through population-based studies. FoodNet conducts studies to examine the importance of various possible exposures (such as specific foods) and practices (such as food preparation and handling practices) as contributors to illness caused by specific pathogens.