U.S – Preliminary 2022 data from the U.S. Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) has revealed a concerning trend: enteric infections in the United States have either returned to or surpassed the levels observed before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2016-2018.

Incidence rates of reported infections per 100,000 people, tracked by FoodNet for eight pathogens, indicate that certain infections have seen an alarming rise. 

FoodNet is a collaborative effort involving the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ten state health departments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This network aims to monitor and combat foodborne diseases by collecting and analyzing comprehensive data.

Cyclospora, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Vibrio, and Yersinia infections have all experienced an increase compared to the average incidence in 2016-2018. 

Campylobacter and Salmonella, which have traditionally been the leading causes of enteric infections monitored by FoodNet, have maintained their prevalence in 2022, along with Listeria and Shigella.

The heightened detection of infections can be attributed, in part, to the expanded use of culture-independent diagnostic tests, enabling healthcare professionals to quickly identify the causative agent behind a patient’s illness.

Distressingly, the FoodNet data also highlight a lack of progress toward achieving the Healthy People 2030 goals for reducing foodborne illnesses during 2022. This calls for urgent action and better collaboration among public health agencies, regulatory bodies, industry stakeholders, and consumer groups to effectively prevent foodborne illnesses.

It is crucial to address the rising incidence of foodborne illnesses in the United States, as these infections can have severe consequences on public health. 

Contaminated food can lead to widespread outbreaks and pose significant risks, particularly to vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems.

To mitigate the increase in enteric infections, comprehensive measures are necessary. These include implementing stringent food safety regulations and guidelines, enhancing surveillance systems, promoting safe food handling practices, improving industry standards, and raising public awareness about the risks and preventive measures associated with foodborne illnesses.

It is important for individuals to practice proper food hygiene, such as thorough cooking, safe storage, and frequent handwashing, to minimize the risk of contracting and spreading foodborne infections. 

Additionally, seeking prompt medical attention when experiencing symptoms of a potential foodborne illness is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Contaminated papayas, pre-cut fruit products

In related news, the CDC has recently issued a warning regarding a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to fresh papayas imported from Mexico

Investigations are ongoing, and consumers are advised to avoid consuming these papayas until further notice. The CDC, in collaboration with state and federal agencies, is actively working to identify the source of contamination and prevent further infections.

Furthermore, the FDA has announced a recall of certain brands of pre-cut fruit products due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes

Consumers are urged to check the FDA’s website for specific product details and discard or return any affected items. The agency is closely monitoring the situation and working with manufacturers to ensure the safety of food products available to the public.

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