Foodborne illnesses from E. coli on the decline, CDC says

Foodborne illnesses from E. coli on the decline, CDC says
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A decline in infections from foodborne illnesses could point to successes in food safety practices, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.   

The nation’s health protection agency released new numbers that show a decrease in the number of infections caused by certain strains of E. coli and salmonella in 2014 when compared to numbers from the 2006 to 2008 time period.

Though rates of infection from two kinds of bacteria - campylobacter and vibrio - increased in 2014, infections from E. coli O157, which can lead to kidney failure, decreased by 32 percent when compared with 2006 to 2008 numbers and 19 percent when compared with numbers from the last three years.

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These types of E. coli infections, the CDC, said are often linked to the consumption of undercooked ground beef and raw leafy vegetables.

Infections from salmonella typhimurium, which has been linked to poultry, beef and other foods, was 27 percent lower than it was in 2006 to 2008, continuing a downward trend that started in the mid-1980s.

The CDC, however, said infections from two other less common types of Salmonella, javiana and infantis, more than doubled — and it’s not sure why.

The data come from FoodNet, the CDC's active surveillance system that tracks nine common food-borne pathogens in 10 states and monitors trends in food-borne illnesses in about 15 percent of the U.S. population.

Overall in 2014, FoodNet logged just over 19,000 infections, 4,400 hospitalizations and 71 deaths from the nine food-borne germs it tracks. Salmonella and campylobacter, the CDC said, were by far the most common, accounting for about 14,000 of the 19,000 infections reported.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that changes in food safety practice are having an impact in decreasing E.coli and we know that without all the food safety work to fight Salmonella that more people would be getting sick with Salmonella than we are seeing now,” Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC’s Division of Foodborne Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, said in a news release.