Factors Contributing to Decline in Foodborne Disease Outbreak Reports, United States - Volume 20, Number 9—September 2014 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC
Volume 20, Number 9—September 2014
Factors Contributing to Decline in Foodborne Disease Outbreak Reports, United States
Since 1973, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has collected data on foodborne disease outbreaks submitted by all states, the District of Columbia, and US territories through the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System. In 2009, existing foodborne and waterborne disease outbreak surveillance systems were transitioned to an enhanced reporting platform, the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS), which also collects reports of enteric disease outbreaks transmitted through person-to-person contact, contact with animals, environmental contamination, and indeterminate means (1). A new electronic reporting form and data entry interface were also introduced. In 2009, the number of reported foodborne disease outbreaks declined 32% compared with the mean of the preceding 5 years (2); the number also remained below the pre-2009 average during 2010–2012 (2,3) (Figure). The decline was largely observed among outbreaks attributed to norovirus (Figure), which can be transmitted through many routes: in comparison, the number of outbreaks attributed to Salmonella spp., which is usually transmitted through food, remained relatively constant (1,2).
We considered 3 possible reasons for the decline in the number of reported foodborne disease outbreaks: 1) classification of some outbreaks that previously would have been reported as foodborne as caused by another modeof transmission; 2) technical issues associated with the introduction of the new system; and 3) staffing and resource limitations related to the influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus pandemic. Clarification of how these factors might have affected reporting would provide accurate conclusions about trends in foodborne disease outbreaks. In 2013, we conducted a survey to identify possible reasons for the decline in the number of foodborne disease outbreak reports that started in 2009.
At the time of the survey, Dr Imanishi was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC. Her research interests include epidemiology and control of foodborne diseases and zoonoses.
We would like to acknowledge state, local, and territorial health departments for contributing data to NORS. We also thank the NORS Foodborne, Waterborne, and Person-to-Person teams as well as the CDC Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foodborne Outbreak Online Database [cited 2014 Jan 7]. http://wwwn.cdc.gov/foodborneoutbreaks
- National Association of County and City Health Officials. Local health department job losses and program cuts: findings from January/February 2010 survey. Washington (DC): National Association of County and City Health Officials; 2012.
Suggested citation for this article: Imanishi M, Manikonda K, Murthy BP, Gould LH. Factors contributing to decline in foodborne disease outbreak reports, United States. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2014 Sep [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2009.140044