(HealthDay News) – There were about 20,000 cases of foodborne infection in 2012, with the highest incidence among young children and the greatest proportion of hospitalizations and deaths among the elderly, according to research published in the April 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

Debra Gilliss, MD, from the California Department of Public Health in Baldwin Park, and colleagues analyzed preliminary 2012 data from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, which monitors all laboratory-confirmed infections caused by selected pathogens transmitted commonly through food.

The researchers found that there were 19,531 infections, 4,563 hospitalizations, and 68 deaths associated with foodborne diseases. For most infections, the incidence was highest for children <5 years old, while people ≥65 years had the highest percentages of hospitalizations and deaths. Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, and Cryptosporidium were the most common pathogens. Compared with the period from 2006–2008, the overall incidence of infection was similar, while the incidence of infections due to Campylobacter and Vibrio increased.

“These findings highlight the need to continue to identify and address food safety gaps that can be targeted for action by the food industry and regulatory authorities,” Gilliss and colleagues conclude.

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