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Food Poisoning Strikes 1 in 6 Americans Yearly

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 20, 2010

The CDC reports are first national estimates that focus solely on illnesses caused by foods eaten in the United States.

The 31 known foodborne pathogens are believed to cause 9.4 million of the 48 million illnesses, the CDC says. Braden said that Salmonella leads the list because it is responsible for "about 28% of deaths and 35% of hospitalizations."

The next top four foodborne pathogens leading to hospitalization are norovirus, Campylobacter, Toxoplasma gondii and Escherichia coli 0157. After Salmonella, the pathogens that cause the greatest percentage of deaths are Toxoplasma gondii, Listeria monocytogenes, norovirus and Campylobacter.

Braden said that in addition to hospitalization and death, many illnesses caused by foodborne pathogens produce "long-term health effects that linger after the initial illness subsides. With this many illnesses affecting Americans each year, prevention and interventions to address these diseases are vitally important."

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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