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CDC collects 40 years’ worth of Salmonella data

By Joe Whitworth+

07-Apr-2014

3D computer-generated image of Salmonella serotype Typhi bacteria. Photo: CDC
3D computer-generated image of Salmonella serotype Typhi bacteria. Photo: CDC

Salmonella data spanning 40 years has been put together in the hope of finding ways to reduce infections in the future.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiled the report and said the more that is understood about Salmonella, the more progress that can be made in fighting it along the farm to table chain.

Data includes 32 types of Salmonella isolates from people, animals, and other sources, organized by demographics and geographies from 1968-2011.

Salmonellosis is estimated to cause more than 1.2 million illnesses each year in the US, with more than 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths.

Serotyping methods

Serotyping had been the tool for public health monitoring of Salmonella infections for 50 years but scientists are using DNA testing to further divide each serotype into more subtypes and detect more outbreaks.

With the next generation of sequencing technology, advancements continue as the laboratory can find information about the bacteria in just one test.

Figures for the report were generated using data from 1968 to 2011, for the top 30 serotypes.

The data allows users to view national trends in reported cases of human Salmonella infection over time, problems in specific geographic areas, sources and the connection between animal and human health.

Data limitations

A major limitation of the data is that many cases are not diagnosed and reported to the state health department; because the ill person does not seek medical care, the health care provider does not obtain a stool culture, or the culture results are not reported to public health officials.

These factors lead to underreporting; it is estimated that 29.3 cases of salmonellosis occur for every one that is laboratory-confirmed and reported.

The Salmonella group of bacteria has more than 2,500 different serotypes, but fewer than 100 cause the vast majority of infections in people.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

An Atlas of Salmonella in the United States, 1968-2011: Laboratory-based Enteric Disease Sur­veillance. Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services.”

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