Salmonella infections increase in U.S.

Salmonella infections in the U.S. have increased by 10 per cent in 15 years, according to a new report.

Salmonella infections in the U.S. have increased by 10 per cent in 15 years, according to a new report.

It comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vital Signs report on food safety.

"Although foodborne infections have decreased by nearly one-fourth in the past 15 years, more than 1 million people in this country become ill from salmonella each year," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Tuesday. 
More than a half-billion eggs from two Iowa farms linked to as many as 1,300 cases of salmonella illnesses were recalled last year. (M. Spencer Green/AP)

Last year, salmonella caused nearly 2,300 hospitalizations and 29 deaths.

More than 19,000 cases of food poisoning were reported in last year, up from 17,500 in 2009 and 18,500 in 2008, the CDC said.

The rate of reported cases of E. coli O157 was two cases per 100,000 people in 1997 and, by 2010, had decreased to 0.9 cases per 100,000 people. The bacteria became infamous in a 1993 outbreak linked to Jack in the Box hamburgers and in the 2000 outbreak caused by contaminated tap water in Walkerton, Ont.

Currently, officials in Europe are fighting an outbreak caused by a different strain of E. coli called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli or STEC known as O104:H4.

The CDC credits the reduction in E. coli to better detection and investigation of outbreaks, increased awareness by consumers and restaurants on the importance of properly cooking beef, and more regulation and testing of meat.

Last year, eggs tainted with salmonella may have sickened as many as 56,000, the CDC estimated. Those cases probably contributed to the 2010 increase, said Dr. Christopher Braden, a CDC epidemiologist.

Last summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started implementing new safety requirements for egg shells that will hopefully will reduce illnesses caused by Salmonella enteritidis in eggs, said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Other foodborne illnesses such as vibrio, which are associated with shellfish, also increased in the U.S.

There were just under 200 vibrio cases reported in 2010, more than double the numbers seen in the 1990s.

Flash-freezing and pasteurization of oysters could reduce the risk to consumers, Braden said.

The CDC tracks nine foodborne illnesses.

With files from The Associated Press