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CDC: Food Handlers Cause Most Food-Poisoning Cases

Norovirus spread in restaurants accounts for two-thirds of all outbreaks, CDC says

WEDNESDAY, June 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Norovirus illness is more often caused by infected restaurant workers than outbreaks on cruise ships, U.S. health officials said Tuesday.

For the report, CDC researchers looked at norovirus outbreaks caused by contaminated food from 2009 to 2012 and included in the CDC's National Outbreak Reporting System.

Among 520 of the outbreaks, food workers were implicated in 70 percent of the cases. Of these, 54 percent involved food workers touching ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands, according to the report. Among 324 outbreaks in which a specific food was implicated, more than 90 percent of the contamination occurred during final preparation, such as making a sandwich with raw and already cooked ingredients. Another 75 percent occurred in foods eaten raw, such as leafy vegetables, fruits, and oysters.

The virus, the leading cause of food poisoning outbreaks in the United States, sickens at least 20 million Americans a year with vomiting and diarrhea. Aron Hall, D.V.M., M.S.P.H., who's with the CDC's division of viral diseases, said at a Tuesday news conference that probably many more cases of norovirus occur in the United States each year but go unreported.

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