Foodborne Illness in the United States

3% Increase In Reports Of Salmonella

-Dr.Dianne McCallister, Chief Medical Officer at Porter Adventist Hospital

Smoked salmon tainted with salmonella bacteria has sickened hundreds of people in the Netherlands and more than 100 people in the United States.

Health officials in the Netherlands said the salmon has been traced to the Dutch company Foppen.

That has sparked major recalls in the Netherlands and in the U.S, where more than 100 people have been sickened.

The strain of bacteria is being called Salmonella Thompson. In the U.S., Foppen sells only through Costco. The wholesale club has pulled the items from shelves and blocked products from scanning at registers. Customers who bought the product will be contacted.

What Is Salmonella?

Salmonella is a bacteria that infects the gut and causes frequent, bloody small stools, fever and fatigue. In infants, and adults with immune deficiency, it can get into the blood stream, but this is rare. It is commonly associated with poultry and eggs, but as we have seen, it can contaminate other foods. There are several antibiotics that are effective in treating this bacteria.

Frequency Of Foodborne Illnesses

The Centers for Disease Control looks at the frequency of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella. In fact, in 2011, there was a 3 percent increase in reports of Salmonella than there were in 2010 - but there is estimated to have been a 10 precent decrease in Salmonella since 1999.

All other foodborne illnesses decreased from 2010 to 2011 - which is good news.

But there is a long way to go - 1351 people died in the United States died last year from foodborne illnesses.

Norovirus is the cause of 58% of deaths from foodborne illness, followed by Salmonella. Other causes of illness from food borne illness included Listeria, Clostridium, Campylobacter and Toxoplasma.

Precautions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made food borne illness one of the winnable battles because it is preventable. Precautions to take:

  1. Always wash hands before preparing food. Keep raw meats separate from all other foods. Wash hands after preparing meat
  2. Do not allow foods with eggs, meat, mayonnaise to sit out at room temperature for too long.
  3. Keep all foods appropriately refrigerated
  4. Non-pasteurized dairy products are associated with a much greater incidence of foodborne illness
  5. Pay attention to health inspection reports when choosing places to dine.

Dr. McCallister is on 7NEWS at 11 a.m. every Wednesday. If you have a topic or question you would like her to discuss, email 11am@thedenverchannel.com.