ATLANTA — Campylobacter and Salmonella were the two leading causes of reported foodborne illnesses in 2016, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on April 20. Cases of infection associated with Campylobacter totaled 8,547 during the year and for Salmonella it was 8,172.
The newly released data was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and was sourced from the agency’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, also known as FoodNet. During the year there were 24,029 reported foodborne infections, with 5,512 resulting in hospitalization and 98 cases resulting in death.
Following Campylobacter and Salmonella, the other leading causes of reported illnesses were Shigella at 2,913, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (1,845), Cryptosporidium (1,816), Yersina (302), Vibrio (252) and Listeria (127).
The CDC noted that 2016 was the first year its data included in the total number of cases those foodborne bacterial infections diagnosed only by rapid diagnostic tests in FoodNet sites. Previously, the report counted foodborne bacterial infections confirmed only by traditional culture-based methods in the total numbers.
As a result, reported cases of Yersinia, Cryptosporidium and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections increased. The increases were likely due to newly available rapid tests that make infections easier to diagnose, rather than to a true increase in illness, the agency said.
Salmonella Typhimurium infections, which are often linked to beef and poultry, decreased 18 percent in 2016 compared with the average for 2013-2015, according to the FoodNet data. The continuing decreases in Salmonella Typhimurium may be due to regulatory action to reduce Salmonella contamination in poultry and vaccination of chicken flocks by producers.
“This report provides important information about which food borne germs are making people sick in the United States,” said Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H, director of the CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases. “It also points out changes in the ways clinicians are testing for foodborne illness and gaps in information as a result.”
In 2015, Salmonella was the leading laboratory-confirmed bacterial infection with 7,719 cases, according to the FoodNet 2015 annual report. Campylobacter was second with 6,289 cases and Shigella was third with 2,645.