Foodborne Illnesses in 2016

Foodborne illness remains a substantial public health concern in the United States. FoodNet is a collaboration among CDC, 10 state health departments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Food and Drug Administration. FoodNet conducts active, population-based surveillance for laboratory-diagnosed infections caused by nine enteric pathogens including; Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia. Surveillance covers 10 sites representing approximately 15% of the U.S. population.

During 2016, FoodNet identified 24,029 cases, 5,512 hospitalizations, and 98 deaths attributed to foodborne illness. Infections were detected by culture or culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDT). Parasitic infections were detected in clinical specimens by direct fluorescent antibody test, polymerase chain reaction, enzyme immunoassay, or light microscopy. CIDTs included tests for bacterial antigens, nucleic acid sequences, or Shiga toxin in a stool specimen or enrichment broth. The largest number of culture confirmed or CIDT positive–only infections in 2016 was reported for Campylobacter (8,547), followed by Salmonella (8,172), Shigella (2,913), STEC (1,845), Cryptosporidium (1,816), Yersinia (302), Vibrio (252), Listeria (127), and Cyclospora (55).

The number of infections detected by CIDT has been steadily increasing compared to culture. Increased use of CIDT may account for the increased incidence of Cryptosporidium, STEC, and Yersinia, and slight but not significant increases in incidence of Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and Vibrio. More widespread adoption of CIDT is likely to improve detection of foodborne illness.


Marder EP, Cieslak PR, Cronquist AB, et al. Incidence and Trends of Infections with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food and the Effect of Increasing Use of Culture-Independent Diagnostic Tests on Surveillance — Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, 10 U.S. Sites, 2013–2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:397–403. DOI:

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