Did You Know? is a weekly feature from the Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support to inform your prevention activities. We invite you to read, share, and take action!
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- When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne disease outbreak—learn what outbreaks are currently affecting multiple states.
- Local and state health departments, federal agencies, and the food industry are all key players in foodborne outbreak response, depending on the size and scope of the outbreak.
- Health department staff and healthcare professionals can help prevent, report, and tell the public about foodborne disease outbreaks.
- Campylobacter and Salmonella continue to be the most commonly reported foodborne bacteria, according to a new report from FoodNet—the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network.
- Targeted interventions to reduce contamination throughout the food production chain can lead to fewer foodborne illnesses.
- Health department laboratories can reduce foodborne illnesses by culturing specimens that have positive culture-independent diagnostic test results, providing critical information to detect outbreaks, inform treatment, and guide interventions.
- An estimated 48 million people in the US get sick each year from foodborne illnesses.
- Anyone can get food poisoning, but certain groups of people are more likely to get sick or have severe symptoms, including older adults, children younger than 5, people with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.
- Health departments can use and share social media messages, videos, and educational materials from CDC to help spread the word about food safety.
- Infected food workers cause about 70% of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food, often by touching ready-to-eat food with their bare hands.
- As of September 2014, 16 states and the District of Columbiaexternal icon had adopted four key Food Code provisions to prevent norovirus and other foodborne illnesses in restaurants and retail food settings.
- You can check your state’s status on Food Code provisions and other food safety measures in CDC’s Prevention Status Reports and explore CDC food safety resources.
- According to the latest Vital Signs, there were an average of 24 multistate foodborne illness outbreaks a year during 2010–2014, causing illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.
- Foodborne outbreak investigations should include using standard questions pdf icon[PDF-549KB] to interview sick people about what they ate, and testing the germs to learn whether others were sickened from the same germ.
- Government and food industries can jointly develop and implement effective ways to identify and trace contaminated foods linked to outbreaks.
- State and local health departments reported 818 foodborne illness outbreaks in 2013 alone; these outbreaks led to 13,360 illnesses, 1,062 hospitalizations, and 16 deaths.
- Consumers can help solve foodborne outbreaks; food receipts, labels, and shopper cards give investigators important clues about what made people sick.
- Health professionals can use CDC’s step-by-step guide to investigate outbreaks, along with a toolkit and tip sheets for effective interviewing and laboratory practices.
- At least 1,788 people got sick from contaminated pool, hot tub, lake, and ocean water in 90 separate outbreaks across 32 states and Puerto Rico over a two-year period.
- Cryptosporidium a diarrhea-causing parasite that is hard to kill with chlorine caused about half of these illnesses.
- Health professionals, aquatics staff, and swimmers can take easy and effective steps to help keep germs out of pools and hot tubs.
- You can get norovirus—a very contagious stomach bug—by swimming in water contaminated with poop or vomit.
- Recreational water illnesses, like those caused by norovirus, spread when an infected swimmer poops or vomits in the water and other swimmers swallow it.
- You can protect others from recreational water illnesses by getting the word out and sharing helpful CDC materials, including infographics, fact sheets, and posters.
- According to the new CDC Vital Signs report, infected food workers cause about 70% of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food, often by touching ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands.
- Norovirus is the leading cause of disease outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States. Outbreaks are most common in food service settings, such as restaurants.
- Health departments can help by adopting and enforcing FDA model Food Codeexternal icon provisions and more thoroughly investigating and reporting norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food.
- Foodborne illness is a significant problem in the United States, but addressing environmental causes can help prevent it.
- Each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases.
- You can take CDC’s free e-learning course on assessing environmental causes of foodborne illness outbreaks. States and localities can also register for CDC’s new surveillance system to collect data from environmental assessments.
- Listeria is the third leading cause of death from food poisoning, and almost all cases are among pregnant women and their newborns, people with weakened immune systems, and adults aged 65 years or older.
- Most people with Listeria infection require hospital care, and about 1 in 5 with the infection die.
- Local, state, and territorial public health professionals are encouraged to complete the Listeria Initiative pdf icon[PDF-618KB] questionnaire for all cases of laboratory-confirmed listeriosis.
- Salmonella infection causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any other type of germ found in food.
- The United States has seen a nearly 50% reduction in a serious food-borne illness caused by E. coli O157 in the last 15 years, although Salmonella infections remain steady.
- Health departments are the front line in foodborne outbreak investigations, but everyone has a critical role to play—from the farm to the table—to make our food safer to eat.
Did You Know? information and web links are current as of their publication date. They may become outdated over time.