Foodborne Disease Incidence

Accurate estimates of the yearly incidence of foodborne disease are difficult and sometimes impossible, depending on the reporting systems in different countries.

Many countries have no system for collecting and reporting data on gastrointestinal infections and even where these exists the reported data is acknowledged to represent only a fraction of the true number of cases.

The true incidence of food borne infection is also difficult to determine since asymptomatic infection is common, because only a minority of people will seek medical treatment and because only a minority of patients will be investigated microbiologically.

Food borne disease statistics in some European countries and the Americas, where reporting systems are netter than some other regions, are dominated by cases of salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis.

While in other regions, however, foodborne disease statistics tend to rely on outbreak information only, and in some cases, other organism, are identified as leading causes of illness.

For example in Australia, of the 17,2 million cases of gastroenteritis each year in Australia, there are 5.4 million cases that are conservatively estimated to be due to contaminated food resulting in the loss of 6.5 million days of paid work.

In the US, it has been estimated that foodborne disease cause approximately 78 millions illnesses, 325,000 hospitalization and 5000 deaths each year, with known pathogens accounting for 14 millions illness, 60,000 hospitalizations and 1800 deaths.

The organism identified as causing the largest number of foodborne related cases of illness were Norwalk-like virus, followed by campylobacter, salmonellas, Clostridium perfringes, Giardia lamblia, staphylococci, Escherichia coli, and Toxoplasma gondii, respectively.

A number of well publicized outbreaks of food borne illness and recalls of meat and meat products have occurred during the past decade.

Many million of kilograms of ground beef and luncheon meat have been recalled because of potential contamination with E. coli o157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes, respectively.

A large outbreak in the early 1990s due to E. coli O157:H7 contaminated hamburgers resulted in four deaths and hundred of illnesses.
Foodborne Disease Incidence

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