Studies show that investing in public health can prevent foodborne disease outbreaks

A new study from the Colorado School of Public Health shows that investing in public health programs helps prevent the spread of foodborne illness.

The study, publish in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, assessed structural and outbreak factors associated with reporting foodborne outbreaks. The study found that the number and types of reported foodborne outbreaks varied widely from state to state. Reporting states high fin our time more epidemics than low ratio states.

Outbreaks reported to national surveillance provide important information about foods associated with disease and can help improve food safety.

Alice White, senior research professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, said: “Investments in public health programs yield great benefits, including increasing the number of foodborne outbreaks reported to national surveillance. This helps officials better identify foodborne illness patterns across the country, which is important so that action can be taken to help prevent the spread of disease. Our results revealed that per capita infectious disease funding was associated with increased reporting, indicating that investments in state public health programs measurably affect outbreak reporting.

This study was conducted using results recorded by the CDC’s Foodborne Illness Outbreak Reporting Surveillance System from 2009 to 2018.

According to the document, states with less funding reported fewer foodborne disease outbreaks.

This indicates that some regions do not have enough resources to detect and investigate every potential foodborne outbreak.

White says investments in public health programs, particularly in state and local public health agencies, should continue and increase to improve reporting to national surveillance of outbreaks.

To learn more, the researchers’ next step is to dive into the available data and analyze whether states that increased their funding over the 10-year period 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 a rapid response to foodborne disease outbreaks can save lives and money.

The study, led by CDC health scientist Bradford Greening, looked at the response of a 2018 Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak associated with packaged chicken salad. The study authors estimated that managers were able to avoid 106 cases and $715,458 in medical costs and lost productivity.

According to the study, in 2018, the University of Iowa State Hygiene Laboratory noticed a significant increase in Salmonella in stool samples. The Iowa Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) Foodborne Rapid Response Team was then able to identify the source of the outbreak as a pre-packaged chicken salad sold by a grocery chain in the Midwest.

In total, the outbreak has been reported in 8 states, with 265 cases of illness. In Iowa, there have been 240 cases, including one death and 94 hospitalizations.

Use of “cost of illness” estimates for people without typhoid Salmonella Generated by the United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, the study estimated the economic costs to society averted by responding quickly to this outbreak.

Quantifying and communicating effects such as the number of illnesses and economic costs averted by response and prevention efforts to policy makers and other appropriate audiences using a clear and systematic approach helps show the value of invest in a robust, responsive and collaborative public health infrastructure.

The full study can be found here.

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