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Foodborne illness cases getting tougher to solve

Foodborne illness cases getting tougher to solve

by Terri Gruca

Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on January 20, 2011 at 11:10 PM

A study out this week by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found it’s getting harder than ever for states to link food-borne illness cases and solve them.

And Texas was one of 14 states given an F in how it reports these illnesses.

The study looked at ten years worth of data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Here’s what the study found about Texas:

Over a ten-year period, Texas’s state and local health departments reported 201 outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the reported outbreaks, 56 were solved, including 48 outbreaks affecting only Texas residents. “Solved” outbreaks - those where both a pathogen and a food source are identified - represent a minority of most states’ reported outbreaks. Solved outbreaks are the most valuable in terms of providing information to help prevent future illnesses. Rapid identification of the contaminated food source can enable states to quickly alert consumers and implement a food recall, thereby decreasing the public health impact.                                                                                     

In Texas Salmonella outbreaks were the most common, followed by the Norovirus.

The study found the percentage of solved outbreaks across the country “declined over the ten year period, from a high of 44 percent in 2001 to 34 percent in 2007.”

And in some years 70 percent of the food-borne illness cases went unsolved. The study goes on to say, “These findings suggest that many states lack adequate funding for public health services, leading to health departments that are overburdened and understaffed.”

Bottom line if you believe you have been sickened by food you should contact your local health department even if you seek treatment somewhere else. Local health departments are supposed to track these illnesses along with the state to try to connect the dots.

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