Salmonella atlas summarizes 40 years of outbreak data

CDC has released an atlas of salmonella surveillance data collected on 32 types of salmonella over 40 years.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has released a new report containing 40 years of data on salmonella, a top foodborne cause of hospitalizations in the U.S.

Available for hands-on web access for the first time, the "Atlas of Salmonella in the United States, 1968-2011" summarizes surveillance data collected by state and federal health officials on 32 types of salmonella isolates from people, animals and other sources. The information is organized by demographic, geographic and other categories.

"Salmonella causes a huge amount of illness and suffering each year in the U.S. We hope these data allow researchers and others to assess what has happened and think more about how we can reduce salmonella infections in the future," said Robert Tauxe, deputy director of CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne & Environmental Diseases. "The more we understand salmonella, the more we can make progress in fighting this threat all along the farm to table chain."

By providing data by age, sex, geography and season of the year in a downloadable format, the Atlas allows users to view national trends in reported cases of human salmonella infection over time, problems in specific geographic areas, sources of salmonella and the connection between animal and human health, CDC said.

In addition to reports of human infections, it includes reports of salmonella in animals, the environment and animal feeds, which can be sources of antibiotic-resistant strains, CDC said.

Serotyping has been the core of public health monitoring of salmonella infections for more than 50 years. Now, scientists use DNA testing to further divide each serotype into more subtypes and to detect more outbreaks. With the next generation of sequencing technology, advancements continue as laboratories can find information about the bacteria in just one test.

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

The Atlas can be accessed at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/reportspubs/salmonella-atlas/index.html.

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