Food-Borne Illness In North Carolina

Jan 20, 2011

Salmonella, magnified 15,000X
Credit CDC/ Janice Haney Carr

Many cases of food-borne illness go unreported and undetected - that's according to a new report.

The report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest looks at food borne disease around the country. It says North Carolina reported 156 outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over a decade, and solved about half of them.

State epidemiologist Megan Davies says most cases of food-borne illness never get solved. That's in part because people often don't report it when they get gastroenteritis... And if they do go to the doctor, usually the doctor treats the symptoms without looking for the source of the problem.

"They're not then going to have a diagnosis that they're going to report to public health as this was a case of salmonellosis. The person is going to go home, they're going to get better, we'll never know about it and we won't have the opportunity to detect the source."

Davies says it would be helpful if people suffering from a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea told a health professional - that way more outbreaks could get detected.

Report: All Over The Map (PDF)