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Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks—United States, 1988–1992

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Data collected by the CDC through a collaborative surveillance program for collection and periodic reporting of data concerning the occurrence and causes of foodborne disease outbreaks (FBDOs) are reviewed for the period from January 1988 through December 1992. An FBDO is defined as the occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food. Before 1992 only one case of intoxication by chemical or other nonbacterial toxin, marine toxin, or Clostridium botulinum toxin as a result of the ingestion of food was required to constitute an FBDO. Since 1992 two or more cases have been required. State and local public health departments have primary responsibility for identifying and investigating FBDOs. State and territorial health departments report these outbreaks to CDC on a standard form. During the 1988-1992 period a total of 2,423 outbreaks of foodborne disease were reported (451 in 1988, 505 in 1989, 532 in 1990, 528 in 1991, and 407 in 1992). These outbreaks caused a reported 77,373 persons to become ill. Among outbreaks for which the etiology was determined, bacterial pathogens caused the largest percentage of outbreaks (79%) and the largest percentage of cases (90%). Salmonella serotype Enteritidis accounted for the largest number of outbreaks, cases, and deaths; most of these outbreaks were attributed to eating undercooked, infected eggs. Chemical and other nonbacterial agents caused 14% of outbreaks and 2% of cases; parasites, 2% of outbreaks and 1% of cases; and viruses, 4% of outbreaks and 6% of cases. The number of FBDOs reported per year did not change substantially during the first four years but declined in 1992 as a result of the revised definition of an outbreak. During this reporting period S. Enteritidis continued to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality. In addition, multistate outbreaks caused by contaminated produce and outbreaks caused byEscherichia coli O157:H7 became more prominent.


Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA

Publication date: October 1, 1997

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