Limitations to Successful Investigation and Reporting of Foodborne Outbreaks: An Analysis of Foodborne Disease Outbreaks in FoodNet Catchment Areas, 1998--1999

Jones, Timothy F.; Imhoff, Beth; Samuel, Michael; Mshar, Patricia; McCombs, Katherine Gibbs; Hawkins, Marguerite; Deneen, Valerie; Cambridge, Michael; Olsen, Sonja J.
April 2004
Clinical Infectious Diseases;4/15/2004 Supplement, Vol. 38, pS297
Academic Journal
To better understand factors associated with confirming the etiologic organism and identifying the food vehicle responsible for foodborne-disease outbreaks, we examined data from outbreaks reported in 1998 and 1999 through active surveillance by Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) surveillance areas in 7 states. In 71% of these outbreaks, no confirmed etiology was identified, and in 46%, no suspected food vehicle was identified. Outbreaks involving ≥10 cases were significantly more likely to have their etiology identified than were smaller outbreaks. In two-thirds of outbreaks in which an etiology was not confirmed, no stool specimens were collected for laboratory testing; in 55% of these outbreaks, neither clinical specimens nor food samples were tested. If the etiology of and factors contributing to foodborne-disease outbreaks are to be understood, adequate resources must be available to allow specimens to be collected and tested and epidemiologic investigations to be conducted appropriately.


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