A new study from the Colorado School of Public Health shows that investments in public health programs help prevent the spread of food-borne illnesses.
I study, publication in Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, assessed the structural and outbreak factors associated with the reporting of food-borne outbreaks. The study found that the number and types of food-borne outbreaks reported varied substantially between states. Higher reporting states reported four times more outbreaks than in low-signaling states.
Outbreaks reported to national surveillance provide important information on disease-associated foods and can help improve food safety.
Alice White, Senior Research Instructor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Anschutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado, said, “Investments in public health planning yield great benefits, including increasing the number of food-borne outbreaks reported to national surveillance. This helps officials better identify patterns of food-borne illness across the country, which is important so that action can be taken to help stop the spread of disease. Our findings found that funding per capita infectious disease has been associated with an increase in reporting, indicating that investments in state public health planning have a measurable impact on outbreak reporting. “
This study was conducted using results recorded by the CDC’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System from 2009 to 2018.
According to the document, states with less funding have reported fewer food-borne disease outbreaks.
This indicates that some areas do not have sufficient resources to detect and investigate every potential food-borne outbreak.
White says investment in public health planning, particularly at state and local public health agencies, should continue and increase to improve reporting to national outbreak surveillance.
To learn more, the researchers’ next step is to delve into the available data and analyze whether states that have grown in funding over the 10-year period have also increased their ability to report outbreaks.
The full study can be found here.
Rapid Response Study
Another related study in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseasesshows how responding quickly to foodborne disease epidemics can save lives and money.
The study, led by CDC health scientist Bradford Greening, looked at the response from a 2018 Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak associated with packaged chicken salad. The study authors estimated that officials were able to avoid 106 cases and $ 715,458 in medical bills and productivity losses.
According to the study, the University of Iowa State Hygiene Laboratory noted a significant increase in 2018 Salmonella in stool samples. The Foodborne Rapid Response team from the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) was then able to identify the source of the outbreak as prepackaged chicken salad sold by a Midwestern grocery chain.
In total, the outbreak was reported in 8 states, with 265 cases of the disease. There were 240 cases in Iowa, including one death and 94 hospitalizations.
Use of “cost of disease” estimates for non-typhoids Salmonella generated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture / Economic Research Service, the study estimated the economic costs to society avoided by responding quickly to this outbreak.
Quantifying and communicating effects such as the amount of disease and economic costs prevented by response and prevention efforts to policy makers and other appropriate recipients using a clear and systematic approach helps show the value of investing in a public health infrastructure solid, responsive and collaborative.
The full study can be found here.
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